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23 Things to Know about Biking With Kids, on Babble.com.

23 Things to Know about Biking With Kids

How to choose your gear, stay safe and have fun.

by Sierra Black

September 16, 2009

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Biking with kids can be a blast. For a lot of families, it’s also their main form of transportation to do everything from commuting to grocery shopping. A green alternative to cars, bikes are gaining in popularity. But it can be intimidating to get started, especially with little ones in tow. Here’s what you really need to know to have a safe, fun ride with your kids. – Sierra Black

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Why would you want to bike with your kids?

Psych yourself up with these stats: One family, riding 20 miles per week, saves $720, 52 gallons of gasoline and 1,009 pounds of C02 annually.

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In addition to being good for the planet, biking is great for your body.

You’ll burn about 700 calories an hour on a bicycle.

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Biking might make kids smarter.

Shane Jordan, the Director of Education and Outreach for the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, says that recent research shows kids who get regular exercise have higher grades and fewer discipline problems in school.

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Biking is safer than you think.

The British Medical Association reports that, “Even in the current cycle hostile environment, the benefits in terms of life years gained, outweigh life years lost in cycling fatalities by a factor of around 20 to 1.” And by taking to the streets on your bike, you make the roads a little bit safer for every cyclist out there.

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To get started, you’ll need a kid who’s at least a year old.

The baby needs to be able to hold her head up while wearing a helmet and sit independently before being strapped into a bike seat.

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Next, you’ll need a bicycle.

The key thing you’re looking for in an adult bike is fit. Even if you’re buying a used bike, get a bike mechanic to help you find the right fit for you.

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Finding a used bicycle.

Craigslist+patience = a very fine bicycle at a fraction of the cost you’d pay in a shop. Buy a brand name like Trek, Bianchi or Cannondale. Avoid Huffy or anything from a department store; these might have unsafe parts. Scratches in the paint don’t matter, but steer clear of bikes with more than a spot or two of rust. On a test ride, pay close attention to the brakes and the gears. Finally, talk to the owner about the bike’s history and make sure it hasn’t been in a crash.

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Finding the right kid carrier.

When you’re biking with a young child (under age six or so), you’ll want to carry the little one along on your bike. The two classic ways to do this are with a seat that sits over the rear wheel of the bicycle and with a bike trailer.

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If you have slightly deeper pockets…

Darrah Bowden, sales manager at Bikes Not Bombs, suggests looking into the Xtracycle, a kit that expands your bike into a “family van on two wheels, with room for cargo, more than one kid, or even an adult passenger.” This is the cutting edge of kid seats, Bowden says.

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For a luxury ride, there’s the Dutch Bakfiets.

These bikes have a built in bucket seat that holds several children, a large grocery order, or small pieces of furniture. They’re built to carry this extra weight and look good doing it. They cost as much as a used car, but many people use them to replace the family auto.

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Big kid options.

Slightly older kids may want to pedal like Mom and Dad, but probably aren’t up for riding independently. For these kids, consider a tag-a-long bike that attaches to your bike, turning it into a child-size tandem.

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To teach your child to ride on his own, get him a balance bike instead of one with training wheels.

A balance bike is just like a regular bike, but has no pedals. The child sits on it and uses his feet to scoot along. Don’t want to buy a balance bike? You can take the pedals off any bike to get the same results.

How to choose your gear, stay safe and have fun.

by Sierra Black

September 16, 2009

400x236.jpg

8

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Getting their own ride.

Once your child reaches about six years old, she will probably want her own bike. Again, fit is important. Many parents buy bikes that are too big for their kids, hoping the kids will “grow into them” and get more bang for those bucks. If you’re concerned about cost, try finding a used bike for your child.

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You need a helmet and so does your child. Even as a passenger.

Don’t use a helmet that’s been left in the attic for ten years, or one that has visible dings in it. Replace your helmet and your child’s every two years.

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Safety yellow is the new black.

“Dress up like you’re a disco ball and go to town on that,” Jordan says. Stick reflectors to clothes, helmets, backpacks and bicycles. You can buy reflective tape to make your own funky designs. For a little more cash, you can get yourself and your little ones bright yellow safety jackets that can be seen from space (or at least the driver’s seat of any cars in the vicinity).

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Remember to take care of the bodies underneath the gear.

Do you need sunscreen? Snacks? Are your water bottles full? All the questions you’d ask before any outing are just as important on a bike. If your kid is pedaling along on a tag-along bike or his own wheels, remember that he’ll need to stop for snacks and water before you do.

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Keep your expectations low.

Whether Junior is pedaling himself or just along for the ride, he’s probably not up for a fifty-mile jaunt his first time out. Choose a low-traffic route, and lower your speed. Be prepared to take frequent breaks.

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Play by the rules to keep yourself and your kid safe.

More than 80% of fatalities for kids under fourteen on bicycles are caused by unsafe riding practices: Kids riding the wrong way on one way streets, riding at night without a light, not wearing a properly fitted helmet, etc.

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Help your kid learn the rules of the road.

Little kids, especially third and fourth graders, are just starting to develop their peripheral vision. “They have a hard time seeing stop signs and lights,” Jordan says. “That part of the world just doesn’t exist for them.”

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Crashing into stationary objects is the number one way kids get hurt on bikes.

Your child may say the tree jumped out in front of him. Don’t believe him, but do try to help him learn to steer and brake properly. Practicing together in an empty lot can be valuable for kids under ten.

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Put an adult in front of the pack.

This creates a cushion of safety for the kids during your family ride. All they have to do is follow the leader.

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Stay off the sidewalks.

Many parents will ride on the sidewalk, or encourage their kids to do so, because they think it’s safer. The opposite is true. It can be much more dangerous to ride your bike on the sidewalk. Dangers include hitting a pothole, a stroller or an opening door.

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Expect the kids to love it!

Biking, especially in urban traffic, might seem terrifying to you, but your toddler will think it’s a thrill. “Most little kids have, like, zero fear of death,” Jordan says. “They’ll love it.”

23 Things to Know about Biking With Kids

How to choose your gear, stay safe and have fun.

by Sierra Black

September 16, 2009

400x236.jpg

8

13.jpg

Getting their own ride.

Once your child reaches about six years old, she will probably want her own bike. Again, fit is important. Many parents buy bikes that are too big for their kids, hoping the kids will “grow into them” and get more bang for those bucks. If you’re concerned about cost, try finding a used bike for your child.

14.jpg

You need a helmet and so does your child. Even as a passenger.

Don’t use a helmet that’s been left in the attic for ten years, or one that has visible dings in it. Replace your helmet and your child’s every two years.

15.jpg

Safety yellow is the new black.

“Dress up like you’re a disco ball and go to town on that,” Jordan says. Stick reflectors to clothes, helmets, backpacks and bicycles. You can buy reflective tape to make your own funky designs. For a little more cash, you can get yourself and your little ones bright yellow safety jackets that can be seen from space (or at least the driver’s seat of any cars in the vicinity).

16.jpg

Remember to take care of the bodies underneath the gear.

Do you need sunscreen? Snacks? Are your water bottles full? All the questions you’d ask before any outing are just as important on a bike. If your kid is pedaling along on a tag-along bike or his own wheels, remember that he’ll need to stop for snacks and water before you do.

17.jpg

Keep your expectations low.

Whether Junior is pedaling himself or just along for the ride, he’s probably not up for a fifty-mile jaunt his first time out. Choose a low-traffic route, and lower your speed. Be prepared to take frequent breaks.

18.jpg

Play by the rules to keep yourself and your kid safe.

More than 80% of fatalities for kids under fourteen on bicycles are caused by unsafe riding practices: Kids riding the wrong way on one way streets, riding at night without a light, not wearing a properly fitted helmet, etc.

23 Things to Know about Biking With Kids

How to choose your gear, stay safe and have fun.

by Sierra Black

September 16, 2009

400x236.jpg

8

19.jpg

Help your kid learn the rules of the road.

Little kids, especially third and fourth graders, are just starting to develop their peripheral vision. “They have a hard time seeing stop signs and lights,” Jordan says. “That part of the world just doesn’t exist for them.”

20.jpg

Crashing into stationary objects is the number one way kids get hurt on bikes.

Your child may say the tree jumped out in front of him. Don’t believe him, but do try to help him learn to steer and brake properly. Practicing together in an empty lot can be valuable for kids under ten.

21.jpg

Put an adult in front of the pack.

This creates a cushion of safety for the kids during your family ride. All they have to do is follow the leader.

22.jpg

Stay off the sidewalks.

Many parents will ride on the sidewalk, or encourage their kids to do so, because they think it’s safer. The opposite is true. It can be much more dangerous to ride your bike on the sidewalk. Dangers include hitting a pothole, a stroller or an opening door.

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Expect the kids to love it!

Biking, especially in urban traffic, might seem terrifying to you, but your toddler will think it’s a thrill. “Most little kids have, like, zero fear of death,” Jordan says. “They’ll love it.”

Article Posted 6 years Ago
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