Should parents be training children to ride bikes?

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billynibbles
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Re: Should parents be training children to ride bikes?

Postby billynibbles » 18 Sep 2012, 7:59am

As an instructor directly employed by a relatively well-off London borough*, I run the gauntlet of all kinds of comments on the street, especially from 'asset-rich, income-poor' types who think that the council tax should be pared down to the exact services that they alone require (no doubt, just road sweeping and refuse collection). I've even had one old git tell me that I should be ashamed to be taking the council's money for such elementary work, followed by the usual old 'in my day, we taught our own kids to ride' swaddling. Sadly, there are some councillors of the same opinion.

*Not the one I live in, I might add!

However, I feel they're missing the point.

Yes, my own parents taught me how to ride a bike,(I am now 62 and therefore, an old git myself!) but not the road skills so necessary these days.

In my experience, there is also a very large percentage of the children we teach whose parents can't even do that, preferring to deliver the bike to school in the back of Mummy's BMW X5, quite happy that we 'do it all' for them.

Given the number that send non-riders along to our level 2 courses, and with brakeless bikes, I'm wondering if they ever read anything, let alone ride anything.
National Standard Cycling Instructor. Brompton 16" folder, Dahon Matrix 26" folder, Ridgeback 700C Hybrid, Moulton De-Luxe 'doer-upper' project

Michael R
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Re: Should parents be training children to ride bikes?

Postby Michael R » 18 Sep 2012, 8:13am

I don't know who taught me. I was 8 1/2 when I got my first bike. I had two older brothers so whether it was them or my mother I can't remember. I soon had my first puncture and my mother taugght me to fix it , with the warning you will have to learn!

end of instruction!!!!!

xpc316e
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Re: Should parents be training children to ride bikes?

Postby xpc316e » 24 Sep 2012, 12:02pm

dalifnei wrote:My wife the great trainer taught me to swim when we were courting, I was about 25.

Our children have all had the "balance bike". Recently our eldest (5) wanted to graduate to a lovely pink and purple pedal bike. I duly ran out and bought stabilisers (just like I had). Dear wife refused to allow me to fit them - otherwise what would have been the point of the balance bike... I had my doubts as it took me years to get the hang of it.

A week later our daughter was confidently riding around our little estate and now goes out every night with the other children.

Though that is just the 'riding' part. Hopefully she'll pick up the road sense when out with us - I'm planning to take her to one of the local parks that has a whole mini town laid out with mini roads to practice cycling on. But I'm conscious that, despite my best intentions, I must have serious flaws that I don't want to pass on so in good time she will enjoy and benefit from some structured training.

There must be a big difference for kids who live in very quiet estates like ours where the children own the road and cars tend to be slow and safe, and those in busy urban streets where they don't have time to learn where to be on the road in their own time.


What a sensible wife you have! Stabilisers are the work of the Devil: they may help when a child hasn't quite cracked the pedalling motion of their legs, but the rest of the time they hinder children. Bikes with stabilisers steer in a completely different fashion from normal and as such they encourage the formation of useless methods of control.
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stork
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Re: Should parents be training children to ride bikes?

Postby stork » 7 Oct 2012, 9:30pm

Vorpal wrote:
Si's suggestion of teaching parents to teach their children is an excellent one. It encourages parental involvement, and should improve the parents' cycling as well as the children's. It also might improve the chances that parents won't undo the good the Bikeability does.

But I think that relatively small numbers of families would be interested. Most families who want to cycle together already know how. Put all the bikes on the car, drive to the country park...


I agree. I would always be concerned that, even where children are being trained properly, parents might well undo a lot of the good. Whatever the input of the professional trainers (which I think is worthwhile, where done properly, e.g. Bikeability), the simple fact is that children will get much of their (informal) 'training' from parents. Even where parents do cycle, they are still likely to have been taught old-style cycle proficiency.

I don't think that it would be reasonable to expect all parents to read Cyclecraft or to take training themselves (although I would hope that many will), but might it be a good idea to provide some printed material for the parents of young Bikeability trainees? Something short, explaining that current training may differ from what they'd been taught, explaining the principles of positioning, observation and communication, etc.?

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pjclinch
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Re: Should parents be training children to ride bikes?

Postby pjclinch » 15 Oct 2012, 1:39pm

but might it be a good idea to provide some printed material for the parents of young Bikeability trainees?


Cycling Scotland have a parents' leaflet that goes out with their Bikeability training (see http://cyclingscotland.msol.org.uk/Uploads/1330446154_ParentGuide2012.pdf, so clearly someone recognises that's a good idea. My feelings on the CS one are "two cheers" for good basic idea but could use some work.

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Bikecat
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Re: Should parents be training children to ride bikes?

Postby Bikecat » 15 Oct 2012, 5:08pm

The Cycle leaflet mentioned is great but does nothing to tell parents exactly what their kids have been taught! This might cover road positions at junctions, not hugging the kerb, looking behind and only signalling if someone somewhere needs to know, coming out early to pass a parked car and passing a parked car away from the door zone.

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Re: Should parents be training children to ride bikes?

Postby pjclinch » 16 Oct 2012, 9:29am

No, it doesn't do that directly but it does say parents can help by (amongst other things) reading and talking about the “Cyclist’s Guide”. This has excellent advice about keeping safe through defensive cycling techniques such as good observation and road positioning. And there's the recommendation at the end for Cyclecraft.

As I said before, it could do with some more work but it's a fair start.
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keepontriking
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Re: Should parents be training children to ride bikes?

Postby keepontriking » 16 Oct 2012, 12:14pm

In nearly all training I undertake with children, parents are actively encouraged to be involved in the actual sessions.
They are encouraged to participate, as in effect it is they who will become 'instructors' after the sessions.
Feedback has been wholly positive, with many of them taking it even further with many responses that it should be included as part of the driving test :D

http://www.hampshirecycletraining.org.uk/

Elizabethsdad
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Re: Should parents be training children to ride bikes?

Postby Elizabethsdad » 5 Nov 2012, 7:01am

keepontriking wrote:In nearly all training I undertake with children, parents are actively encouraged to be involved in the actual sessions.
They are encouraged to participate, as in effect it is they who will become 'instructors' after the sessions.
Feedback has been wholly positive, with many of them taking it even further with many responses that it should be included as part of the driving test :D

http://www.hampshirecycletraining.org.uk/

I have just submitted a query on your website about helping us teach our five year old daughter to start cycling. We have had almost no success in doing this ourselves, some things you just need to get the professionals in for - over to you Bodie and Doyle :-)
I do agree though that even if you can't teach your child to ride yourself you should still be involved.

landsurfer
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Re: Should parents be training children to ride bikes?

Postby landsurfer » 5 Nov 2012, 9:48am

I taught my 3 children to ride their bicycles, and to swim, and fish, and climb mountains and read maps and climb trees, ride motorbikes and on and on ... its called parenthood.
Now starting the whole process again with the grandkids.
Teaching your childern yourself is a basic parental task, one that is a joy.
Dont get hung up on doing it perfectly just start the process off...............!!!
Be More Mike.
The Road Goes On Forever

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pjclinch
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Re: Should parents be training children to ride bikes?

Postby pjclinch » 5 Nov 2012, 9:49am

WaterLab Rat wrote:I have just submitted a query on your website about helping us teach our five year old daughter to start cycling. We have had almost no success in doing this ourselves, some things you just need to get the professionals in for - over to you Bodie and Doyle :-)
I do agree though that even if you can't teach your child to ride yourself you should still be involved.


I suspect different things are being discussed here. Starting cycling, as in learning how to ride a bike, is something parents should be able to teach. Where it may be time for the professionals is teaching how to mix it with traffic on Real Roads.

http://rethinkingchildhood.com/2012/10/02/child-learn-ride-bike/ shows a typical learning process, moving from getting nowhere much with stabilisers for the first 25 seconds or so to making real progress quite fast on just two wheels. Note how wobbling and the odd crash are entirely normal. This shouldn't be considered a "how to" video, but simply a reference that it's quite easy, anyone can do it, and the child generally has a bit of frustration leading to a lot of fun.

Key points are getting rid of stabilisers, providing enough propulsion (by hand or with a little help from gravity on a gentle slope, or the child scooting a bike with the pedals removed) to get the bike fast enough for balance and steering to be responsive and relatively easy, and making sure the child looks where they want to go rather than at what they're doing.

Most of cycle steering is about leaning the bike, and that's what makes stabilisers a Work Of Stan: a stabilised bike is effectively a trike and can be turned with the handlebars alone, but that doesn't work with a bike. Getting a child who is used to trike-like steering to save a lean on a bike turning in to a fall can be aided by getting them to try and steer in the same direction they're falling, so if it starts to lean to the left steer the bars to the left. My daughter couldn't quite get the hang at first, though she could use a scooter okay. We got the scooter out and got her cruising around on that and then told her to do exactly the same on a bike with the pedals removed and seat lowered so both feet could go down easily, and that was steering sorted. Once steering is there then pedaling is generally pretty trivial, though if you've put the seat down for scooting remember to put it back up for pedalling.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRk1xZbahf0 has a short video of the pedals-off method.

You can hand this over to pros, but you really can do it yourself.

Pete.
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...

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Re: Should parents be training children to ride bikes?

Postby Vorpal » 5 Nov 2012, 7:06pm

I find that some children don't take very well to the 'hanging on and pushing' method. Most of the children whom I've taught successfully, learned to propel themselves from the start.

I just have them set the right foot at about 2 o'clock and the left foot on the ground. Then I tell them to push the right pedal down at the same as they push off with the left foot. I often show them what I mean with my own bike. I instruct them to just let the bike go as far as they can (straight) and to put their feet down when it slows to a stop. Then I ask them to repeat it (maybe several times), and when I think they're ready, I ask them to push a bit harder, then put the left foot on the left pedal, then try and go around (just once :)) and so on. Each step may take some practice before going on to the next. Most children will get it this way, however slowly it has to go.

I think that balance bikes (or bikes with the pedals removed & saddle lowered) are much more useful than stabilisers for teaching people how to ride. Being a tandem stoker is also helpful, but possibly only a bit more than just learning to pedal things (bike with stabilisers, trike, etc.)

And some children just aren't ready at 5 to ride a pedal bike independently. I've met some children who really had to work to get it at 8 or 9, and others who took to it like ducks to water at 4. It's hard to say how it will go for any particular child.
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Bikecat
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Re: Should parents be training children to ride bikes?

Postby Bikecat » 5 Nov 2012, 8:34pm

Always the right foot? I let them decide which foot as some people are left footed. I then tell them to steer towards the lean and most get it with a bit of help on the back of the saddle and the handlebars, in a few minutes - or mostly within half an hour.
I am left footed by the way!

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Re: Should parents be training children to ride bikes?

Postby Vorpal » 5 Nov 2012, 8:50pm

I said the right foot mainly just to set the stage for Bikeability, or at least riding on the road. Now, I'm living in Norway, I guess I'd suggest the left foot, anyway. If I came across someone who had trouble with learning with one, I'd have them try the other. It hasn't been necessary.

I use whichever foot is convenient; I had to think about it when teaching Bikeability.

Mini V, and a few other children I taught got it in just a few minutes. A couple of kids I taught took quite a bit longer. They seemd to be inhibited more by their belief that they couldn't do it than any physical or coordination issues. Most were somewhere in between; as Bikecat said, within a half hour.
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Elizabethsdad
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Re: Should parents be training children to ride bikes?

Postby Elizabethsdad » 6 Nov 2012, 10:21pm

WaterLab Rat wrote:
keepontriking wrote:In nearly all training I undertake with children, parents are actively encouraged to be involved in the actual sessions.
They are encouraged to participate, as in effect it is they who will become 'instructors' after the sessions.
Feedback has been wholly positive, with many of them taking it even further with many responses that it should be included as part of the driving test :D

http://www.hampshirecycletraining.org.uk/

I have just submitted a query on your website about helping us teach our five year old daughter to start cycling. We have had almost no success in doing this ourselves, some things you just need to get the professionals in for - over to you Bodie and Doyle :-)
I do agree though that even if you can't teach your child to ride yourself you should still be involved.

Of course, if the professional cycle trainers don't respond to on line querries submitted on their websites about providing cycle training parents are just going to have to do the best they can on their own - which in my case isn't really working. So that will be on less cyclist then, best I can hope for then is that when my daughter is older and starts to learn to drive I can at least find a driving instructor who will teach her respect for all other road users.