Think that cycling to school might be in your child’s future but need a bit of extra help, or reassurance, that your child has the skills and confidence to ride? It’s a great idea to take a Can-Bike program that will introduce your child to bike safety and the rules of the road. Once everyone has the basics, gather the neighbours together to practice their new skills at the ultimate summer bike rodeo.
What you’ll need
- Find an open space – check out places like church or school parking lots in the evening.
- Some friends, who also would like to ride to school, with tuned-up bikes (check out 3 steps to prep your child for back-to-school bicycling) and properly fitted helmets. This rodeo group can become the neighbourhood bike-to-school gang once everyone is comfortable on two wheels.
- Some way to create a bike course (chalk, pylons, etc).
What to do
- Start the rodeo by dividing up the kids and having them visit different stations to learn some basic bike skills: hand signals, starting, stopping, dismounting, and walking with their bikes, and checking for traffic.
- Once the kids have visited the stations and learned the skills it’s time to put them into practice.
Create a bike course for them to ride, mark it out with chalk or using pylons, with adults spread out along the course to supervise and watch for vehicle traffic.
Your bike rodeo course should include left and right hand turns so they have to use their hand signals, places where they have to stop and dismount to walk their bike (like they would at a crosswalk), as well as fun elements like weaving through cones, a chance to ride as fast as they can, maybe even a chance to see if they can “pop-a-wheelie”.
Getting to school on bikes
At the end of the bike rodeo, kids should be feeling confident in their skills. And parents will know they are better prepared to navigate the trails and roads that lead to school.
The next step is to practice the route to school together. Try it during times of the day and week when traffic is calmer so kids can get a feel for the route.
Start by leading the way and once they are comfortable, let them be the leader. Observe your child’s behaviour on the bike including, signaling, riding in a straight line, jumping off the bike at crosswalks etc. If you see anything that concerns you now is the time to review the rules of the road.
Fun extras make biking even more exciting for some kids– let your child pick out a couple of things that will help them personalize their bike like a colourful basket, a new bell, or even some cool bike gloves. Also make sure to have a good lock, and an extra key or two!