© 2024 Hoop Health Ltd. All rights reserved.
Background image
Background jagged scribble
Background swirly scribble

Should I Let my Child Cycle on the Road?

28 February 2023

Being able to take their bikes out on the road by themselves gives children freedom to go on adventures or to visit friends. They might want to use their bike to get to school but at what age should you let them out on the roads? Traffic awareness doesn’t develop until age 8-10 and varies from child to child. Every kid is different and you will need to judge each one individually. It also depends on what the traffic is like where you live. 

Preparing for the Road

Children need to be adept at handling a bike. They must be adept at steering and braking. You can teach them road signals and to look back before doing so, so they know what is behind them. Make sure they have a well-fitting helmet and fluorescent clothing. Teach them which roads are safe to go on and which ones to avoid. It is illegal to ride on the pavement from age 10. Even on cycle lanes children need to be taught that there is a blind spot for drivers. They need to ride in a position where they can see and be seen.

Take Them Out for Practice

Take them out with you to see how aware they are and help their confidence. You can ride out behind your child so they get used to riding on roads while you are watching them. See if they can ride one-handed and look behind without veering off course. Can they communicate their intentions to slow down or change position on the carriageway clearly? Practice negotiating junctions and encourage them to get off and push their bike on the pavement if necessary.

Check Their Bike

The bike needs to be in good condition with enough air in the tires and good brakes. Is the steering reliable with tightly fixed handlebars? Has the chain been oiled recently? Is the seat adjusted to the right height? You do not want your child struggling to reach the pedals. You should be able to rest the tips of your toes on the ground for safety and confidence. Cycle shops will look over a bike for you if you are not sure.

Bikeability is a scheme to encourage enjoyment of safe cycling. It is taught in primary schools. Children learn to manoeuvre bikes around a course and perform hand signals amongst other skills.

Riding at night is a whole other ball game and needs extra careful consideration. You must have lights for the bike and wear reflective clothing. The routes your child takes and whether there is rush hour traffic needs to be considered.

Being able to take their bike out alone gives a child freedom and confidence. They learn a sense of direction and independence. They can go on adventures with others. It gives them exercise and fun so it shouldn’t be denied. Just take the time to teach your child the basics of road safety and judge for yourself when they are ready. 

Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

Find fun, healthy activities for kids on the Hoop app