When it comes questions about trikes, bikes, and the kids that ride ’em, who better to ask than someone who gets littles rolling on the regular? We caught up with Shane MacRhodes, founder of Kidical Mass, for insider tips to help get the family changing gears before you can say go!
Photo: SLO County Bicycle Coalition via flickr creative commons
Do Your Homework
Before you hit the pavement, be sure to check out the Family Bicycling Guide from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition or the Portland Bureau of Transportation for tips and tricks tailored to different stages of riding with kids from pregnancy to biking sans Mom and Dad.
Go Tandem with Teeny Tots
Start out riding with the kiddos attached, whether in a trailer, bike seat, or on a cargo bike. Not only will it get your blood pumping but the littles will get a first-hand experience at what it’s like to be out biking around.
Begin with a Balance Bike
Start kids out on a balance bike; unlike training wheels, it teaches them what really matters, balance! Worried about transition? It’s actually easier to go from balance bike to pedal bike. Balance bikes are also lighter so when beginning riders decide they’ve had enough scooting for the day, the long haul back home (think: you carrying the bike) doesn’t seem so far.
Size It Right
Thinking of getting a bike that grows with your baby biker? Well, think again. If toes are even just this far off the ground, or the pedals aren’t quite so push-friendly and the handlebars are too much to handle—yup, not so fun—kids are less likely to want to ride as often.
The Price is (Also) Right
Picking a quality bike also makes a difference in how kids enjoy the ride. Pricier versions are built for bumps in the road (both real and emotional!) and for all you bargain buyers and sellers—the better bike has a higher resale value, every time.
Bonus Tip: Speaking of resale, be sure to scour handy sites like Craigslist in order to score fab deals on kid bikes, trailers, seats and cargo bikes. Find a great bike but it’s the wrong color? Decorate! Feel free to go crazy with stickers, colorful tape, straws, pipe cleaners and plastic flowers to make the bike all their own—just make sure nothing can get caught in the wheels or chain.
Go Back to School
Try and find a family biking class in your area. If you can’t find one, look for an adult class like the League of American Bicyclists “Traffic Skills 101,” it’s a crash course in the basics of confident, safe cycling techniques. Read: it will help you model better riding for your kids. Other routes including checking in with your local Safe Routes to School program for resources.
Know the Route
Start out on the multi-use paths but don’t be limited by them. Pinpoint the quiet neighborhood streets that connect riders to where they need to go because these are the roads less traveled (handy when starting with beginner bikers). Find out if your community has a bike map and route out a good ride. You can even try out Google Maps bike directions. Start out short and simple and build up to longer, more complex rides.
Get Out and About
Participate in your communities Kidical Mass, Open Streets, or other events aimed to get you biking together with other families. If there isn’t an event in your community, help start one!
Bonus Tip: A nationwide “Kidical Massive” event is happening on Sept. 19th, 2015 and communities around the country are encouraged to participate in one massive family bike ride. Click here for more info about the event and how to start your own bike group.
Whatever you do, make sure everyone is having a blast. Give Littles the freedom to explore and experience life on the open road, you’ll remember what biking was like when you were a kid!
How do you get your kids rolling around? Share with us in the Comments below!