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  • Writer's pictureKate

Time for a bike ride?

Get the kids route planning, find back roads around your neighbourhood and teach safe road riding while traffic levels are low- what's not to like!

If you're trying to get exercise while staying at least 2m from everyone, cycling (except in very crowded city centres) is perfect: You really shouldn't be that close to anyone else on a bike, so you can get out and enjoy the rainy spring weather as much as you like!

If you're lucky enough to be in a city with good bike routes, that's great. Otherwise, get out the OS maps, Google Maps and (in Derby) get on the Derby Connected website for the suggested cycle routes map here: A ride of 3 miles or less should be OK for almost anyone unless you have additional mobility needs (if the worst comes to the worst you can always walk that far) and 20-50 miles is a nice long ride for older children and teens if you take a picnic. If you get the kids plan a short urban or suburban ride then let them navigate it also won't matter if they get lost a lot on the first few rides...

It's worth remembering that children under 16 will not be prosecuted for pavement riding, and that lots of pavements on bigger roads have white paint bikes optimistically painted on them, meaning adults can ride on them too. But white paint does not a decent bike lane make: Be aware that often bike lane pavements in Derby at least have not been adjusted to allow bikes and pedestrians enough space, so ensure children understand that they need to be considerate to other people: Our rule is stop and get off on narrow pavements, and slow right down if there are pedestrians even if there is enough space. People walking often step sideways almost at random and hitting them is not a good idea!

If your kids haven't done much road riding before, no matter how amazing they might be on the BMX track, it's worth spending a while going through road safety rules. There are good resources from Better By Bike here: and having a strong working knowledge of the Highway Code is a good idea too- -it's not the most exciting read, but it's really worth knowing what other road users are likely to be doing. Be especially aware of lorries which might be turning left- DO NOT undertake them!

Road positioning is really important when out riding. If you're riding with children or less experienced riders, the leader should be at the BACK of the ride, out wider in the road to protect the people in front from overtaking vehicles. Check out this video on road positioning from British Cycling:

Even the most sensible children can do some pretty random and impulsive things (generally for a TOTALLY LOGICAL if bizarre reason) if they're not heavily and constantly instructed on early road rides- remember, they don't have the road sense of most adults who are used to driving or at least have years more experience of not being run over. For this reason, before you start to ride, ensure everyone understands that if you call for them to pull to the side or stop they should go to the kerb to their left and get off calmly and sensibly- and that you will be asking them to stop so you can give instructions at least 20m before EVERY junction in the early days. Practice road positioning, indicating, safe stopping and following instructions either on off-road tracks, wide pavements or extremely quiet estate roads so that you're certain you can keep your riders safe: Remember, you're going to be behind them so you'll be able to see what they're doing but you won't necessarily be able to get to them quickly- they need to be able to follow shouted commands reliably.

If you have a smaller child or child with sensory needs, you may want to consider using a Trailgator (, tag-along or tandem, depending on their level of need (we use a Circe Helios with our child who needs extra support and Cycle Derby have various adapted and specialist options for people unable to ride a "standard" bike). If your child or less experienced ride partner has some level of hearing loss you might consider keeping them on your left side so you ride as a pair to make communication easier- this is an approved way for everyone to ride anyway, as it forces vehicles to slow right down and means nobody can try and overtake in narrow gaps.

Then the more practical side of cycling:

Before you get out and about, try make yourselves visible especially on rainy days- cars have tinted windscreens so it's always darker from inside a car than outside. Bike lights flashing in daylight make you more visible, and any high-vis or bright coloured clothing is a good idea. But even if you're cycling in black jackets, still get out- just be aware that you're less visible than would be ideal.

Then make sure your bikes are safe to ride: Find the pump and get all tyres properly inflated as it's much easier to ride on harder tyres, then check that everyone has working brakes (have a look at this bike check video from BikeRadar then find the bike oil and oil the chain and gears- unless you want everyone to be able to hear you coming 3 streets away, which could be a safety feature even if it's hard work to move a rusty chain!

And then, enjoy your ride!

Any comments or anything to add, please get in touch- we'd love to hear from you

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Mar 19, 2020

Brilliant informative post!

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