Children on roads.

Mystique

New Member
Has anyone got an opinion on when it's ok to allow your children to ride with you on roads?

My daughter is 7 and I have just started allowing her to follow me on residential roads which she's coping with fine so far. I have found that most drivers are very thoughtful when it comes to passing her as they offer a lot more room than they have ever done for me.

Does anyone think that I'm putting too much pressure on her too soon or do any of you guys allow your children on the roads that are about her age? Do you let them lead or follow?

Cheers,
Mark
 

fossyant

Ride It Like You Stole It!
Location
South Manchester
I usually follow, and started with my son about 7. My daughter isn't ready yet though, and she's just turned 7 now.

When riding with small kids, I have found drivers very thoughtful in my local area. The other week, my son was riding, and daughter scooting on the pavement on the way to school (this was rush hour on a narrow main road with trucks) - Despite the kids being on the pavement and me tailing on the road, two HGV's slowed and held back - seeing they did this I stopped and let them past - big thumbs up from all...

Front or back - neither is wrong. You being in front, she can see what you do, from behind you can offer a little more protection, but it's harder issuing advice.
 

Banjo

Fuelled with Jelly Babies
Location
South Wales
Children

If she enjoys it then go for it.I think the tiny risk of an accident is more than offset by encouraging her to take exercise and be healthy .

If she is not enjoying it then dont force her or you will put her off for good.

I was criticized by some people for allowing (encouraging) my kids to walk the half mile to school on their own at an early age.I made sure they were safe at crossing the roads first obviously.Personally I think the more you let them do things on their own the safer they are as they arent depending on you to look out for them all the time.Even though you are following behind she is much more in control than if you were in the car or walking.

My own preference when riding with the kids is to follow as I can see them without looking around and feel better with me between them and overtaking cars.
 

gps315

Über Member
I like to follow, acting as a back stop while making progress on a road, when it comes to junctions i move up along side and slightly in front to act as a block / decision maker for moving off then drop back behind when safely under way

I found the hardest part building up their awareness and acceptance of consequences if they don't look to see what's going on around them

Good luck with the riding
 
gps315 said:
I like to follow, acting as a back stop while making progress on a road, when it comes to junctions i move up along side and slightly in front to act as a block / decision maker for moving off then drop back behind when safely under way

I found the hardest part building up their awareness and acceptance of consequences if they don't look to see what's going on around them

Good luck with the riding
Exactly that! I started riding on quiet residential roads with my eldest when he was 5 or 6 - and since he was 7 the rule is on the road or off your bike (although I do plan routes quite carefully!). In town and on busy roads I ride behind and outside of him but tend to go ahead at junctions, on cycle paths and quiet lanes he can choose. He's allowed to ride ahead up to certain (out of sight) points on the school run if I have a pushchair and am walking - in fact, he's done that for a couple of years.

He's now 8, heading towards 9 and copes with York traffic OK, although I still let him choose whether we get off and walk for the trickier junctions. He's getting better at the observation and awareness but is a long way off good at it.
 

shouldbeinbed

Rollin' along
Location
Manchester way
gps315 said:
I like to follow, acting as a back stop while making progress on a road, when it comes to junctions i move up along side and slightly in front to act as a block / decision maker for moving off then drop back behind when safely under way

I found the hardest part building up their awareness and acceptance of consequences if they don't look to see what's going on around them

Good luck with the riding
me too.

If you and they are confident they'll be safe and sensible then go for it, I'd trust my kids on the roads more than a lot of the adults I see weaving, wobbling about the place
Hopefully the more kids get road practiced the less planks riding on pavements there'll be (yeah right)
 

Moodyman

Guru
Like Fossy, I rode behind my 8 year old son on several occasions last year. Drivers were very considerate. But son didn't like sound of large vehicles coming from behind. Now he rides on pavement, with me on roads. Find drivers very considerate at side roads.

On a another note, I got told off by a lady last week.

Was riding to town with my 4 year sitting on my pannier rack (I padded it for her). Riding in a nice cycle lane, lady slows down car, downs her left window, and says that's very irresponsible of me, 'You shouldn't riding on the road with a little girl on the back'. I thanked her, and carried on.

Gotta appreciate her concern haven't you.
 

Arch

Married to Night Train
Location
Salford, UK
Moodyman said:
On a another note, I got told off by a lady last week.

Was riding to town with my 4 year sitting on my pannier rack (I padded it for her). Riding in a nice cycle lane, lady slows down car, downs her left window, and says that's very irresponsible of me, 'You shouldn't riding on the road with a little girl on the back'. I thanked her, and carried on.

Gotta appreciate her concern haven't you.

Unless your bike is specifically adapted, and I don't think padding counts, she was right - legally you were wrong. I've got a feeling you need footrests and/or handlebars to be legally adapted.

It's one of those laws that seems daft, because it can be done safely (look at Holland, they all do it over there) - but there'll always be someone who does it badly and ends up damaging their passenger.

I once saw four lads on one BMX - one pedalling standing up, one sitting on the saddle, one standing on the rear stunt pegs and one sitting on the handlebars....
 

summerdays

Cycling in the sun
Location
Bristol
It depends on the child and their road sense. Middle child we still have issues with and she is now 13 ... and we have to assume she will do something daft that will cause us to get cross/heart go faster on any ride. Youngest has cycled to school since 4 - and probably on the road for the last 1 and half years - he is now 9. For me the change was partly to do with bike size ... when he was on a 16" bike I felt he was too low down to be seen by car drivers, now he is on a 24" bike I feel he is far more visible. I also started by doing it by doing the journey home first as it is less manic than people rushing off to work after dropping their kids at school.

As others have said - he is in front and I'm behind and out further to prevent daft overtakes. I'm close enough to be able to talk and I keep a running commentry about a car coming that maybe he can't see (as he won't be looking as far ahead) and whether we should pull over or they should stop and where... I would say he is more confident on the road that the average child 2 or 3 years older than him but I don't expect him to make the choices on his own - often he is already doing the right thing though.

He doesn't bother signalling on the way to school as I don't mostly... I'm afraid I have taught him some bad habits... that's not to say he can't as he will do on longer more unfamiliar rides.
 

Rebel Ian

Well-Known Member
Location
Berkshire
I take my four year old out on his tag-a-long often and purposely use the roads. I either stick to quiet back roads or where we do go on major roads my eldest son cycles behind him. I'd rather he got used to the roads and wasn't scared of them but learned that cars need to respected but not necessarily feared.
 

Norm

Guest
gps315 said:
I like to follow, acting as a back stop while making progress on a road, when it comes to junctions i move up along side and slightly in front to act as a block / decision maker for moving off then drop back behind when safely under way

I found the hardest part building up their awareness and acceptance of consequences if they don't look to see what's going on around them

Good luck with the riding
Yup, that's generally it for me too.

On the main drag outside our house, they'll use the cycle path (which is shared use) and I'll ride beside or in front when we approach junctions.

Once we get away from there, though, they ride on the road with me behind. Mine are a little older now (10 and 12) but my daughter was 8 when we first did the ride home from school, which is about 8 miles, mostly on NSL roads.
 
OP
M

Mystique

New Member
Thanks for all the feedback it's been very helpful. :laugh:

Since my original post I have also contacted the Cycle Training Co-ordinator for Essex Council with an enquiry about the availability of the Bikeability scheme in my home town of Harlow. The scheme has 3 stages and ranges from basic maneuvers to negotiating busy roads. These stages are restricted by age group and at 7 my daughter will only be able to complete the first stage.

I was told that Harlow is due to receive a funding boost to help promote cycling within the town and that a larger roll out of the Bikeability scheme to our local schools is in the offing.

Has anyone on here had any experience with the Bikeability scheme?
 

ChrisKH

Veteran
Location
Essex
Mystique said:
Thanks for all the feedback it's been very helpful. :laugh:

Since my original post I have also contacted the Cycle Training Co-ordinator for Essex Council with an enquiry about the availability of the Bikeability scheme in my home town of Harlow. The scheme has 3 stages and ranges from basic maneuvers to negotiating busy roads. These stages are restricted by age group and at 7 my daughter will only be able to complete the first stage.

I was told that Harlow is due to receive a funding boost to help promote cycling within the town and that a larger roll out of the Bikeability scheme to our local schools is in the offing.

Has anyone on here had any experience with the Bikeability scheme?
Yes. I managed to persuade a local inter-school charity to fund Bikeability training in the school holidays (actually it was government funded and they just applied for funding) two years ago and then I just badgered all the parents I knew until I got 16 kids to go on two consecutive Saturdays. Meant my son trained to Level 2 by the time he was 8.

His school is now doing it for age 10-11 year olds and I thought it wouldn't hurt for him to do it again as a refresher. Talking to other parents of other schools they tend to offer the training to junior school kids who are just about to leave or are one year off leaving. In retrospect, whilst it's never too early, age 7-8 is a little bit too young as the majority of kids aren't road aware. Some of them couldn't even cycle to a proficient standard and had to pull out until they were older/more proficient in handling their bike.
 

summerdays

Cycling in the sun
Location
Bristol
Bikeability Level 1 is aimed at younger kids - my youngest has done it when he was in year 3 through school, but they don't do the Level 2 stuff until year 6 unfortunately at his school. My other 2 have done their level 2 (though who knows how the middle one passed it with her road sense at that age). Level 3 is generally aimed at secondary school kids - my older two haven't done it as they can't be bothered and they are girls. I do know that some schools locally are offering female only courses to try and get teenage girls more interested in cycling - a friend's daughter is doing next week I believe.

At age 7 or 8 most kids haven't yet developed their road sense for judging car speeds accurately. Therefore they shouldn't really be cycling on the road without an adult.
 
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