Cadel Evans of Medibank, an Australian private health insurance provider, perceives cycling as an important skill for children to learn. He acknowledged that children may experience “a few wobbles and scrapped knees” at first, but cycling will remain with them for life as soon as they mastered it.
Cycling is beneficial to improve your child’s physical health. Further, cycling can also be your child’s favorite healthy pastime that can never be outgrown, said parenting website Parents. Cycling symbolizes a rite of passage for your child, as it can serve as a vessel to help them explore new places outside of their homes or neighborhood.
Surveys About Cycling Programs and the Benefits of Cycling to Mental Health
As part of the Our Bikes Our Adventure campaign, the Bikeability Parents Survey involving 1,000 participants was commissioned to show the benefits of cycling to their mental health, according to Bikeability, a cycle training program. In the survey, 37% of parents said their child feels less stressed and more relaxed from cycling together with their family.
71% of parents whose child has completed Bikeability courses agreed that it has encouraged their family to cycle together more. Further, 67% of parents whose kids have done Bikeability training said cycling with their children is their favorite family activity unlike 22% of those who have not done the said training.
60% said cycling as a family makes their child happy while 47% said cycling as a family makes their child physically fitter and stronger. 63% reported cycling as an easy way to increase their child’s physical activity levels and 60% enjoyed cycling as a family knowing that they spend quality time together outdoors. Nearly 45% said they most enjoy the sense of freedom and adventure when cycling as a family.
Dea van Lierop and colleagues of Transportation Research at McGill (TRAM), a transport research group, said a total of 130-pre-CCA (Certificat Cycliste Averti or Certificate Aware Cyclist) program and 75 post-program were used for the 2015 study.
93% of children who participated in the survey before (b) the program had access to a bicycle, but the figure rose to 98% after (a) the program. Most kids learn to cycle from a family member (b= 79% versus a=80%). After they completed the CCA program, the percentage of children who said they learned how to cycle at school skyrocketed from 6% to 16% after the CCA program.
Prior to the program, 6% said riding a bike to school was “a lot” like them, but after the program, the number increased to 12%. Meanwhile, 13% of adults agreed that cycling to school was “a lot” like their child before the program and after the program, it was 29%. Prior to the program, 75% of children said riding a bike was not difficult for them, increasing to 92% after they completed the program.
62% of adults said riding a bike was not difficult for their child, but after the CCA program, 92% said cycling was not difficult for their child. When asked why the parents would not allow their kids to cycle to school, they cited worries about their children’s safety with regard to traffic (37%), the volume of traffic between their home location and the school (22%), and the concern that their child’s bicycle might be stolen (20%).
What Are the Benefits of Cycling?
Cycling also helps improve your child’s mental health, as physical activity is correlated with increased happiness and the opportunity to establish social connections. It is also an activity that your family can enjoy together and share some quality time. Hence, it is recommended to start slow and take breaks to give your child ample time to rest. Unlike driving, cycling is also environment-friendly as it minimizes carbon emissions, reduces traffic congestion, and addresses problems in parking. Most importantly, it is a simple and rewarding activity that your child can enjoy with their friends and loved ones.
How to Help Your Child Learn to Ride A Bike
1. Purchase a bike
You need to find a bike that suits your child’s needs and personal taste. Be aware that cheaper models tend to be heavier and more susceptible to mechanical problems, warned Jay Townley, executive director of the Bicycle Council, a Wisconsin-based biking-industry association. Opt to purchase a bicycle from bike shops as they offer more personalized service than general department stores.
If you are buying one from a discount store, you will have to find a bike that is the right size for your child. While seated, ensure that your child’s feet can touch the ground when the bike’s seat is in its lowest position. If necessary, adjust the seat so their legs are slightly bent at the bottom of each revolution when pedaling. If a bike is too small, your child will be forced to pedal with bent knees, causing knee pain and making their legs tire quickly.
2. Start Slow and Easy
Balance bikes have no pedals, making them a good starting tool to teach your child balance and confidence, suggested Ariel Brewster of Today’s Parent, a Canadian bi-monthly magazine. You can also remove pedals from a regular bike. Opt to let your child cycle with training wheels for a few weeks, but don’t let them get too comfortable with it. Your child may get frustrated because the training wheels will hinder their progress or develop habits that will have to be eliminated once the wheels are taken off.
3. Find a Safe, Open Space
When it’s time for your child to transition to two wheels, you have to find an open space like a school playground or a flat, well-trimmed field. Narrow sidewalks and nearby traffic on neighborhood streets can make your child nervous. To help your child learn how to ride on two wheels, tell them to push the pedals backwards when practicing how to stop. Tell your child to put their feet down when you are holding the bike upright.
4. Practice (Until Your Child Has Mastered It)
To steady your child, you can either hold the bike seat or place your hand on the back of their neck. Tell them to start pedaling and to look ahead instead of at the ground to help them steer straight. Run alongside until your child learns to balance and move. Let go and if your child falls, comfort and encourage them to try again. Teach your child the “ready position” once they have learned how to cycle. The “ready position” is when “one pedal is up and a little bit forward.” Tell them to step on the pedal to get their bicycle moving.
Mastering the art of cycling may take weeks or months. Parents should exercise patience and not turn it into a big issue. They should also purchase protective gear to reduce the likelihood of injuries. For children, learning how to ride a bicycle is an achievement no matter how long it takes.