Hot on the wheels of the story of the Schonrocks, who allowed their five and eight-year-olds to cycle to school on their own, we have some tips on how to keep your children safe when cyclng.
It's up to every parent to decide the best time to allow their child to cycle unsupervised, based on their ability and cycling environment, but whenever you decide, it's important to make sure they know how to be safe on the roads.
Here are a few top tips to help keep them safe and build their confidence on two wheels.
1. Go on a a cycle training course before allowing him on the road.
Experts recommend a minimum age of ten years for on-road cycle training courses - below this age children are less likely to be able to successfully cope with the joint tasks of managing a bicycle and negotiating traffic situations.
To find out more about local cycling courses for your child, you can:
log on to www.streetwise.org.uk;
contact your local council's Road Safety Team.
2. Ensure your child wears a cycle helmet at all times.
According to the cycling charity LV= Streetwise, less than half of children are asked to wear a cycling helmet by their parents.
3. Pavement practice.
If you feel your child is too young to cycle safely on the road, ask them to ride on the pavement (with care and consideration for pedestrians).
Although pavement cycling is technically illegal unless on a cycle path, the police are likely to show discretion to young children for whom cycling on the road would not be a safe option.
4. Be seen.
Cyclists should always wear light coloured, fluorescent and reflective clothing to help them be seen, as well as having lights on their bike.
5. Check the route.
Be aware of the density of the traffic and any problems on the route before thinking about letting your child out unsupervised. Before they set off, travel the route with them a few times so that they are confident and familiar with where they'll be going. You may wish to cycle behind them for a few weeks to build their confidence;
6. Prepare for accidents.
Accidents do happen and it's important to be prepared, so ensure your child is able to respond in an emergency. Make sure they know how to make a 999 call, know their home telephone number and know their own address.
7. Cycle together.
There is safety in numbers, so where possible ensure your child has a sensible cycling 'buddy' whenever they're out– such as a friend or older sibling.
8. Be expected.
If your child is cycling to school or to a friend's house, let another adult (e.g. teacher, friend's parent, babysitter) know and provide them with an idea of when they can expect your child to arrive.
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