keeping "control" of children whilst cycling

martinn
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keeping "control" of children whilst cycling

Postby martinn » 23 Nov 2017, 12:58pm

Hi all,

I take two of my children to school a couple of days per week, all three of us by bike. Their ages are 9 and 6. Both can ride quite well, the 9 year old is quite quick and keen, and has a Tandem 100Km under her belt.
I currently ride at the back with the 9 year old in the front (On road). The 6 year old is probably typical for a 6 year old, and needs prompting. I normally use my rather loud voice to let her each one know what I want them to do, as I need to watch out for other road users for all three of us.

The other day, whilst concentrating on the road ahead, we needed to do a right turn, the eldest had turned and the other one wants to turn, road position is good, but there is now a car, so I tell her very firmly "Don't cross don't cross", and then the car lets us go...(It had nowhere to go due to the parked cars). I then look to my left and saw a Mum with her child dutifully waiting at the Kerb to cross the road thinking I was speaking to her! I apologised and all was well.

So those that ride with children, or teach, how do you make sure all the children are safe, and what sort of max ratio of kids to adults is advised?
Bikability is taught at the school, but not until next year.

Many thanks

Martin

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Cunobelin
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Re: keeping "control" of children whilst cycling

Postby Cunobelin » 23 Nov 2017, 1:19pm

Apparently the answer is helmets, and numberplates


.... or at least according to some headmasters

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Cunobelin
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Re: keeping "control" of children whilst cycling

Postby Cunobelin » 23 Nov 2017, 1:20pm

You know your children and the routes, so I see nothing wrong with doing what you are doing

Ruadh495
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Re: keeping "control" of children whilst cycling

Postby Ruadh495 » 23 Nov 2017, 1:38pm

I wish mine (8 and 9) were that good on the road. My older one tends to wander and doesn't always listen to direction. He really needs someone to follow, but I can't trust him behind where I can't see him. Found that out the hard way.

I'm afraid I tend to control them by keeping them inside a big metal box on the road and only letting them cycle off-road. Not good, but I haven't found anything else which works. If only I could afford a triplet...

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Re: keeping "control" of children whilst cycling

Postby JohnI » 23 Nov 2017, 2:01pm

We have a ten year old, and for us it's normally one child to one or two adults. She's done Bikeability now so she could cycle completely on her own, but I'm still a bit uneasy about that.

One point is that I also prefer to cycle behind and call out instructions, but maybe going alongside at junctions (not turning right off a main road though). The ideal is one adult in front, one behind, but if I'm the only adult I prefer to be behind rather than go in front and then keep on having to look behind and/or wait for them to close the gap. The flip side is that in the situation you describe you need to be able to trust the child to listen to you and do what you say.

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Re: keeping "control" of children whilst cycling

Postby Vorpal » 23 Nov 2017, 2:03pm

martinn wrote:Hi all,

I take two of my children to school a couple of days per week, all three of us by bike. Their ages are 9 and 6. Both can ride quite well, the 9 year old is quite quick and keen, and has a Tandem 100Km under her belt.
I currently ride at the back with the 9 year old in the front (On road). The 6 year old is probably typical for a 6 year old, and needs prompting. I normally use my rather loud voice to let her each one know what I want them to do, as I need to watch out for other road users for all three of us.

The other day, whilst concentrating on the road ahead, we needed to do a right turn, the eldest had turned and the other one wants to turn, road position is good, but there is now a car, so I tell her very firmly "Don't cross don't cross", and then the car lets us go...(It had nowhere to go due to the parked cars). I then look to my left and saw a Mum with her child dutifully waiting at the Kerb to cross the road thinking I was speaking to her! I apologised and all was well.

So those that ride with children, or teach, how do you make sure all the children are safe, and what sort of max ratio of kids to adults is advised?
Bikability is taught at the school, but not until next year.

Many thanks

Martin


That doesn't sound too different from what I do. Mine are now 11 and 8, and the 11 year cycles to school on her own with a friend, weather permitting (she doesn't like cycling in the cold).

When they were 6 & 9, though, Littlest still preferred the back of the tandem to his own bike, and I think it's much easier to manage that way.

I did make a point of (as much as possible) explaining things to the kids on the road. We also have had our own lessons, on a playground or quiet road to practice looking behind, handling, and road position.
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Si
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Re: keeping "control" of children whilst cycling

Postby Si » 23 Nov 2017, 3:41pm

what sort of max ratio of kids to adults is advised?


Bikeability doesn't have a set ratio as such because it also depends upon how much time you are spending with the children: thus ratio is a combination of safety and effective teaching.

For the situation you describe, I would say that it varies depending on the children concerned. For instance, I've had Y6s who worry me when it's 1 to 1, whereas I've had others who are better than many adults.

But for L2 bikeability, when we do the free ride element where the kids lead and we observe from behind, 1 to 2 is the ideal. 1 to 1 doesn't work because of safeguarding issues, 1 to 3 is doable if the kids are OK but not ideal.

As for how I do it....I either have both in front, or one behind and one in front. Depends on the ability of the kids and the kind of road, but for L2 I tend to have one each end, and L3 two in front.

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Re: keeping "control" of children whilst cycling

Postby Vorpal » 23 Nov 2017, 6:32pm

When I was teaching Bikeability, and we went out for on-road instruction, we 'snaked' with up to 12 kids and only two instructors. Six-to-one is the maximum ratio allowed by Essex CC. We didn't usually have that many, and we didn't usually ride very far that way.

As Si said, it depends alot on the capability of the children.
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Re: keeping "control" of children whilst cycling

Postby pjclinch » 24 Nov 2017, 10:01am

It sounds to me like you've got the salient points well covered. It's usually best to "lead from the rear" as you're doing if it's just the one of you in charge as this lets you keep an eye on everything (and if you ride a little further out you can shield them from the unpleasantness of close passes).

There are occasionally times when a follow-the-leader works best, typically if you're doing something where they won't have a good fail-safe default and there wouldn't be time for explaining. But those should be exceptions rather than rules, generally forced on you by (dare I suggest it) UK road layouts not being up to snuff for inexperienced cyclists.

As Vorpal mentions, "snaking" will work with quite a lot of children, but it doesn't give any chance to comment to your charges so while they'll get from A to B they won't learn very much about how to do it by themselves.

Bikeability manuals can be downloaded, and the National Standards for cycle training can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-standard-for-cycle-training-outcomes. They're based on Cyclecraft for the most part. I don't see much reason why a cycling parent can't impart them to a keen cycling child at least as well as most instructors, because you don't have the burden of lots more people of varying abilities and attention spans to deal with at the same time.

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Re: keeping "control" of children whilst cycling

Postby brynpoeth » 24 Nov 2017, 10:21am

Vorpal wrote:When I was teaching Bikeability, and we went out for on-road instruction, we 'snaked' with up to 12 kids and only two instructors. Six-to-one is the maximum ratio allowed by Essex CC. We didn't usually have that many, and we didn't usually ride very far that way.

As Si said, it depends alot on the capability of the children.


What is snaking?
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Si
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Re: keeping "control" of children whilst cycling

Postby Si » 24 Nov 2017, 11:06am

What is snaking?


It's a technique for moving a group around under control, used in bikeability, and led rides for fairly new riders.

Very roughly speaking: one leader at the front, one at the rear, line of riders between. At junctions the rear leader overtakes the group and controls them at the junction, only allowing each rider to cross if it is safe.

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Re: keeping "control" of children whilst cycling

Postby Vorpal » 24 Nov 2017, 12:25pm

I have used some snaking techniques riding with my own kids (and their friends) I sometimes take up to three kids (mine, 8 & 11, plus an 8 year old neighbor boy) to the swimming pool about 2 miles away.

They have strict instructions to wait for me at junctions, then I surpervise their crossing/turning decisions. My oldest goes in front, and younger kids in between her and me. The neighbor boy who goes swimming with us comes from a cycling family (they don't have a car). He is skilled (his handling skills are better than my son's) but has a bit of a tendancy to hop on and off the pavement, or do stuff without looking, so I make sure he's last, where he can hear me, and I can keep a closer eye on him.

My oldest, I trust to cycle by herself and help with the younger ones. She only waits for me at junctions to make sure the younger ones wait. I think that she is more careful and responsible if I give her some responsibility for helping me look after the younger ones (martinn, maybe you can use that, too?)

She also knows if we get separated to find a safe place to wait that they will be seen by (if it's around a blind corner or something) with whomever is with her.
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martinn
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Re: keeping "control" of children whilst cycling

Postby martinn » 25 Nov 2017, 7:37pm

Thanks for the comments.
I thought what I was doing was the most sensible method.
My daughter reads alot, so cycle craft might be a Christmas gift.
Vorpal, I think you are right, the thought of additional responsibilities does tend to improve her overall ability, but she is still at the stage of being easily distracted.

PS when you sense they are about to do something stupid! How do you stop yourself from shouting, and relaying the command in a firm but calm manner.

Many thanks

Martin

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Re: keeping "control" of children whilst cycling

Postby Vorpal » 25 Nov 2017, 8:25pm

martinn wrote:PS when you sense they are about to do something stupid! How do you stop yourself from shouting, and relaying the command in a firm but calm manner.

:lol: I usually shout. :oops:
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Re: keeping "control" of children whilst cycling

Postby Si » 26 Nov 2017, 10:21am

Use a safety command...for instance we teach them "stop and drop" which means get to the pavement ( if possible), stop and drop your left foot onto it. This should be preceded by the name of the child in question so that they know which it applies to. For instance, going across a cross roads where you are giving way. One child is half way across when a fast car appears. Just shouting stop may stop the second child from crossing the line but it may also stop the first child in the path of the on coming car.....so always make it clear who you are talking to!