June 22, 2012

Pedal On: The way to get children started on the right path for bicycling

By Karen Beaudoin kbeaudoin@mainetoday.com
Online Editor

(Continued from page 1)

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When starting out, children should ride in places that are free of trafffic, including skills courses at bike rodeos, or agility courses parents can set up in their own driveway.

Courtesy of Bicycle Coalition of Maine


Five safety tips for parents riding with young children:

1. Model good behavior by obeying the rules of the road.

2. Always wear a helmet.

3. Ride behind your child so you are always looking forward.

4. Stay on low-volume streets or trails while children are learning.

5. Make the ride a fun adventure with snacks, water and frequent stops.

For more info about bike safety, visit www.bikemaine.org


If two adults are present, one should ride at the front of the group and the other at the back. If only one parent is riding, he or she should be at the rear of the group, about 10 feet back. That distance should give the adult enough time to sprint to the front of the group if needed because the child's decision-making skills may not yet be fully developed.

"They may see an obstacle and only think of that obstacle and not the car that's passing them on the left," Whittemore said. She also suggests guidelines be set, including the order the group of cyclists will stay in and the distance children are allowed to pedal ahead of others in the group.

Parents also can take measures to make things safer for themselves while riding with their children.

"For parents, I'd rather they be on a mountain bike rather than clipped in on a road bike when dealing with a small child," Whittemore said. "And parents should model good behavior and the rules of the road. A child has to wear a helmet under the age of 16, and parents should as well to model good behavior."

Parents, Tasse said, should be watching for signs of fatigue or difficulty with the bike. Rides with young children should be kept to short distances, with water and snacks available. Frequent stops for off-bike exploring are also important.

"This should be about fun more than anything else," he said. "Don't make it a death march, make it let's go have some fun outside."

Karen Beaudoin can be contacted at 791-6296 or at: kbeaudoin@mainetoday.com


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