It is back to school time! Parents are recovering from a summer hangover and the kids are sharing stories of their summer adventures, showing off their new shoes and hopefully pedaling or walking to school! It is the PERFECT time to start a new habit of walking or biking to school a couple of times a week. Below are a few tips to get started and a few safety ideas are thrown in as well.
Getting Into the Routine
RIDE WITH THEM THE WEEKEND BEFORE
Start out slow with your kids and ride on a peaceful weekend before you brave the round trip ride to and from school that will be busy with many humans, cars, and buses. Teach your kids hand signals, where to stop, what to look for, and how to act around cars, people, dogs, and strollers. You are already winning if you have been practicing this all summer long with friends!
PRACTICE LOCKING THEIR BIKE
Bike theft in the suburbs is on the rise and properly locking your bike up is key to keeping your kid’s bike around a bit longer. Make sure you have a few different options of where and how to lock at your school in case your child arrives later and someone has “taken their parking spot”. I also personally don't recommend using a cable lock. We only sell chain locks with fabric sleeves or u-locks, both start at $40. If your kiddo is relying on their bike to get to school it is important that it is still there at the end of the day. I'm working on a locking article and will update this one with a link once it is done.
Helmet and Safe Shoes
While a helmet is not legally required in Colorado for kids under 16, it is in many states. There are many debates about helmets but until our bike lanes are like Copenhagen and kids do silly things on bikes I recommend helmets greatly for kids.
Wear Brighter Clothes or a Backpack
Many of the uniforms I see riding around my neighborhood have navy or gray tops. If your kids ride on the streets I recommend picking up a brightly colored windbreaker and/or helmet child has to wear. Yes - they will fuss but let them pick out the jacket and it may be easier.
Your kids were probably pretty hard on their bikes this summer with all the fun they had. Have you bolt checked their bike, and inflated the tires? If you are in the neighborhood I am happy to do this for free. Simply book an appointment!
Biking to School Equipment
BELL OR HORN
Help your kids be heard! A lot of kids ride on sidewalks then come up behind pedestrians and don't know their right from their left which can cause a tangle. Help them to learn when to use their bell / horn so people know they are coming.
Basic front and rear blinky lights are <$15 and your kids will love them. We are also big fans of Reelights which are magnetically driven and stay running as long as your wheels are moving. You no longer need to worry about batteries, or turning the lights on!
If you can, get that backpack off your kid’s back with a rear rack and basket or pannier! Each bike is different but it should range between $40-100 for a full setup including bags or basket.
Get Your School Involved
Safe Routes to School is a national program to help schools, parents, and kids safely bike or walk to school. Find out if your school or local school department is involved in this wonderful program to increase safety, awareness, and better kids' health!