Parents who have bought their children new bicycles for Christmas are being encouraged to make sure they teach them to ride correctly and that the bikes are properly adjusted.
“Even in these days of high-tech gadgets and gizmos, the traditional Christmas gift of a brand-new bike is still very popular,” says Tracy Graham, Nottinghamshire County Council’s principal road safety officer.
“But parents should make sure that, not only is the bike correctly adjusted for height and comfort, but that their child is shown the correct way to ride a bike safely and confidently.”
Tracy suggests the following techniques:
Try to avoid using stabilisers as they can be relied upon too heavily and the child will be more likely to become nervous if they are removed
Adjust the seat, so that the child can put both feet flat to the floor
Initially remove the pedals from the bicycle and let your child use it like a hobby horse until they can glide for some distance, to gain balance and confidence. This can be started on the flat moving on to a slight decline.
Pedals now back on. Stand in front of the bike and hold on to the handlebars (if necessary), walking backwards in a straight line. This involves minimum physical contact between trainer and trainee. Make sure your child looks at you (chin up) and not at their feet.
Use lots of praise and encouragement and plenty of patience. Make small advances, keeping the bicycle straight. Walk backwards slowly and be ready to hold the handlebars steady if necessary; gradually create a greater distance between you and the child and start to walk back a little quicker.
The trainee will cycle with control longer distances. Repeat this exercise. Introduce the use of both brakes to control speed as they start to ride around in a circle.
Do a little each day. As your child gains confidence and stays at a slow pace, greater balance and control is achieved. Remember to reinforce keeping the head up, looking ahead and pedal slowly, using the brakes when needed.
More information is available by visiting www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/travelling/roads/roadsafety/roadsafety-cyclists/how-to-teach-a-child-to-ride-a-bike