Photo by Rob WorshamAll over the country, cities, towns and companies are encouraging bike commuting as part of National Bike to Work Day today.
For many, bike commuting is a green way of getting a lot of exercise and also -- for those of us who live in big cities -- a way to avoid congestion and traffic.
Of course, nothing is ever as simple as it seems and bike commuting has its detractors as well. Cars are not always willing to share the roads with cyclists, cyclists themselves get into trouble for not obeying traffic laws and many are concerned with the danger factor for all involved.
But biking can be a great way to get to work, run errands and more. In fact, biking is a great family activity that allows parents and children to get a good workout in and model healthy behaviors for children. But bike safety starts from birth.
Here are a few tips by age:
- (Ages 1-3): At this age, try a tricycle or balance bike for them to get a feel for the road themselves. For long trips, try a trailer or a bike seat. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, a trailer is a much safer means of bike transport since a large majority of bike accidents happen not from cars but by bike error and falls. If this happens, the children stay safe in a trailer.
- (Ages 3-5): At this age, kids can start to explore a small bike with training wheels in addition to still riding in the trailer or the bike seat.
- (Ages 5-7): Children this age may be able to remove the training wheels or even sit on the back of a tandem bicycle that is lower to the ground and extends from a parent's bike.
- (Ages 7+): At this age, children can take short (sometimes even long) bike jaunts alongside mom or dad.
Safety tips: From the first time children ride a tricycle or scooter or are a passenger, insist on helmets. My children know that if they want to ride even a big wheel, they have to wear a helmet. It looks silly at the park, but it does build it into the routine and I deal with less protest when they really need them. Read books about children biking with helmets. Point them out when you see them on bikers.
Do you bike with your children? How do you teach safety?