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Cycling to School

Discussion in 'Family and Recreational Cycling' started by huggy, 20 Sep 2016.

  1. huggy

    huggy Senior Member

    mjr likes this.
  2. DCLane

    DCLane Found in the Yorkshire hills ...

    With him or him on his own?

    My now 12 year-old rides 7 miles each way to school and has done for the past few months. However I'd have been riding with him before he went to secondary school.
    huggy likes this.
  3. Jimidh

    Jimidh Über Member

    I suppose you know the risks better than us looking at one picture.

    If the roads are quiet then I can't see the problem but ultimately you are the parent who has to make that decision.
    400bhp and huggy like this.
  4. I like Skol

    I like Skol Hold my beer and watch this..........

    It's a tricky one and local knowledge would play a big part in the decision. On the face of it the road does look very rural and should be quiet but if it is in reality a rat run for idiot commuters then maybe best not to contemplate it. Have you been able to ride alone along the road at the times you will be riding with Jnr? If you can ride it by yourself a few times and gauge what the traffic conditions are like on various days of the week then that would probably be more useful than any advice given by third parties on this forum. I am not one to advocate cycling PPE in normal circumsrtances but in this case I would think some hi-viz vests printed with the words CHILD CYCLIST, worn by both of you might make any drivers you encounter engage their brains a bit more than otherwise?

    EDIT: Just to lighten things a little bit, I have cycled to school with both my children since the age of 6 or 7 and it is massively rewarding and beneficial. We also have to travel around 2.5 miles each way but it is in an urban environment so much greater use of cycle lanes and trails than in your case. We don't do it more than maybe once a week but when the sun shines and I suggest getting the bikes out for the trip the answer is rarely no.
    Last edited: 20 Sep 2016
    huggy likes this.
  5. OP

    huggy Senior Member

    With, him without a doubt, little sister in a trailer.

    It's not a rat run (no one would use it as a short cut), but one of the 2 roads out of the village with 450 houses so at that time of day I would expect some traffic including the school traffic and bus.

    Riding it at the time of day could be the key, but difficult to organise (without kids). I ride it at times as part of a loop training ride and its quiet in the evening.

    If we did it regularly we would become known.

    Others views are interesting/important I have no reference as what would be considered by wider society as bonkers.
  6. Shaun

    Shaun Founder Staff Member

    Too many people have the misconception that cycling is more dangerous than it really is. You are thinking about it before diving in, planning it and canvasing opinion and ideas, and you're taking a positive and thoughtful approach - you're being plenty sensible. But what's also great is that you want your kids to enjoy the freedom and independence of cycling, which they'll definitely benefit from.

    Perhaps pick a day over the weekend, or evening (or early morning) when you know the traffic will be lighter than usual and give it a try to see how it works out?

    You could even do the route a few times this way around so you are not under any time pressure, and you can take note of any points where you might need to look out for oncoming or passing vehicles; between you both you should be able to work out what you feel is the safest position (in front / behind - both at different points along the route) for you to be in, and when you do start the school run it will be familiar and you'll be a bit more prepared for some of the points on the route that might need a bit more care or thought as you approach them.

    Imagine how chuffed he'll be when he gets to school under his own power ... ^_^
    coffeejo, 400bhp, Pat "5mph" and 4 others like this.
  7. I like Skol

    I like Skol Hold my beer and watch this..........

    I would do (would have done) it, I am not mad and I don't think you are either.

    As Shaun has said, he will be chuffed when he does it and you are teaching him an important life skill with many, many implications (Fitness, health, confidence, independence, awareness, self sufficiency, etc).

    My oldest son rode the Manchester to Blackpool 60 mile ride when he was aged 11 and the younger one is keen to do the same next year when he is also 11. I have no doubt he will do it and probably find it a bit easier than his brother as he has more stamina and determination.
    ransos, raleighnut, coffeejo and 2 others like this.
  8. 400bhp

    400bhp Guru

    I'd echo the above. I note (from a 10 second scan of your google maps link) there's pavement. Consider using that as much as possible initially before moving to the road. Indeed, ride the road yourself next to him.

    The one thing to remember is how little road sense he will have at that age. I cycle a lot with my 7 year old daughter and do the roads too, however i'll use pavements where convenient/possible. She can get a little too cocky on the roads sometimes as she doesn't want pappa alongside her and certain manouvers (in particular turning right) need to be planned well in advance.

    Do it, in my view you are insitilling a load of positive messages to your child. He will also become generally better at sporting activities and competition too. My daughter boasts about being the fastest girl in class when they do their cross country run (4 x round the school field). I've told her to up her game to being the fastest overall^_^ I explained to her the benefits cycling (and lots of walking too) will have on her being "the bestest". She now seems to get it.:okay:
  9. summerdays

    summerdays Cycling in the sun Staff Member

    Only with an adult and if you talk through what he should do, including not getting ahead of you to any extent. I went on holiday near there a year ago.... Lovely place near Cosheston, and we were were on a narrow rural road. I would say that we found some of the locals who seemed to know the roads drove faster than we did.

    Know all the spots that you can pull over in and have lights on both yours and his bikes when the weather is bad.

    I cycled with mine to school from about the age of 5 on city roads - though suburban ones... And some of the parents where the worst.... poor parking and trying to barge through small spaces past a child... Be prepared to stand your ground.
  10. coffeejo

    coffeejo Ælfrēd

    West Somerset
    Love seeing the kids round here or on their bikes on the rural roads or going to the shops and cycling home with the milk and bread they've been sent out to get.

    Just need more parents to teach their kids to not be so smug when they scalp overweight and unfit adults trying to get their heavy bike and heavier panniers up what seems like a mountain. :blush:
    Ajax Bay, 400bhp, Shaun and 3 others like this.
  11. amasidlover

    amasidlover Über Member

    I was doing the school run with both boys (3 and 6 - now 7) in a trailer up until this January; there is a short but sharp hill on the commute which was getting to be a major struggle. We upgraded Ben to a Frog 52 with gears in January and he sped up considerably; at that point I put him on his own bike for the school run.

    I modified the route slightly at that point so we do around 1.5km on 20mph limit roads and 1.5km on shared paths.

    I cycle behind him and in primary rather than secondary for most of the time.

    My feeling before I started was that with the trailer, motorists usually behave pretty well, I was nervous that they wouldn't see both of us and pull in too soon after passing.

    In practice we've been doing this 3 times a week for the last 9 months (inc. a similar journey to holiday clubs over the summer break) and I've found; the vast, vast majority of drivers have been very patient and my presence with a trailer has meant that they generally see us in plenty of time to slow down/manoeuvre appropriately. He has taken instruction very well and is generally more cautious than me, the first few months we did more or less continuous commentary on road positioning and observations of hazards - this does seem to be sticking and I now quiz him occasionally on whether he spotted a hazard and occasionally tell him to correct his road position.

    We've also done a little bit of cycle touring together and this is where I'd advise caution; on national speed limit roads (and even 40 limits) drivers have a lot less patience for a cyclist only doing 7-8 mph; he can get his speed up to 10-15mph for brief periods and we do this where necessary.

    Our biggest issue is crossing side roads on the shared path as we have to look in multiple directions at once...

    He has started to get a little 'laid-back' about things now so I'm having to point out that he needs to watch what he's doing more (maybe once a week) - and, as with everything in life (and cycling in particular), it only takes one idiot in a ton or more of motor-vehicle or one lapse of concentration from Ben or I for a serious incident to occur...

    Overall though, I think its the right decision; despite it being slightly more risky (for us) than driving him to school it should teach him that motor-vehicles don't have to be the default choice and may thus improve his health and life-span and it means he'll have had years of on-road experience before suddenly being allowed off on his own as a teenager...
    400bhp, Shaun, summerdays and 2 others like this.
  12. I like Skol

    I like Skol Hold my beer and watch this..........

    This is important. Once these kids are let loose in cars they will have had years of being the vulnerable road user and will know all the stupid moves, nasty tricks and bad parking so they will know not to do them themselves.
    400bhp, summerdays and amasidlover like this.
  13. mjr

    mjr Wanting to Keep My EU Citizenship

    Good point. I don't think the cyclists I knew were the ones who wrapped their cars around lampposts and so on. Although I do know one drove off with a door open, hitting a post with it, so it doesn't make them invulnerable. ;)
  14. amasidlover

    amasidlover Über Member

    One other point which I forgot... He loves doing it, if he's in a bad mood then 5 minutes into the journey he'll have cheered up and be singing to himself. All his friends seem pretty in awe of him doing it too; plus another 2 families (at least) have started doing it this year too...
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  15. I like Skol

    I like Skol Hold my beer and watch this..........

    It has been quite encouraging over the last couple of years. With my oldest son there was maybe one other occasional cyclist up to about 3yrs ago. The school has since been replaced with a new build on the same site and it has been quite messy at times but we soldiered on as the lone diehards, locking the bikes to builders railings wherever we could. Now the build is complete they have included some proper bicycle stands and I am really chuffed that even though there are eight of these, so room for 16 bikes, we still sometimes can't get a spot and have to lock up to the fence nearby when the weather is really nice.

    I still tell my son he should be really proud because all these new cyclists live within half-a-mile of the school while his commute is a round trip of 5 miles :okay:
    400bhp, Shaun, coffeejo and 2 others like this.