Skip to content

Sign up to our newsletter for exclusive news and offers

Bike Club logo
cycling with children in the city

Tips for Cycling with Children in Cities

Cycling is an increasingly popular mode of transportation in British towns and cities for commuting and exercise.  It's also great for weekend fun with the kids, to get them out and about for a bit. 

This blog gives some handy tips on cycling with children in an urban environment. We'll discuss safety precautions, route planning considerations, and strategies for keeping young riders engaged during the journey.

1. Choose the right bike for your child

The most important point is that your children have bikes that fit them. A bike that is too big or small will hinder their control and be uncomfortable to ride. 

You can choose the perfect-sized bike for your child by taking their inside leg length and then using the filters on our category pages. 

For urban riding we recommend city bikes or hybrid bikes. City bikes are naturally designed for towns and cities and feature a more upright sitting position for visibility. Hybrid bikes are more versatile, being able handle on and off-road. 

 2. Wear helmets

Helmets are of course non-negotiable when cycling with children in the city. A properly fitted helmet will significantly reduce the risk of head injury in case of a fall. Here's what to keep in mind:

  • Age-appropriateness: Ensure the helmet is the right size and design for your child's age. Look for helmets specifically made for children.
  • Proper Fit: The helmet should sit snugly on the head, level with the eyebrows. You should be able to fit two fingers between the chin strap and the child's chin.
  • Lead by Example: Always wear your own helmet when cycling with your children. This reinforces the importance of helmet safety and sets a positive example.
Frog City bike - Bike Club

3. Choose a nice route

Planning your route can make a big difference in the success of your cycling adventure with children. The age and ability of your children should also be in your mind when planning a route. 

Try to opt for routes with dedicated cycling lanes or paths separated from traffic. Avoid busy roads and junctions with heavy vehicle flow.

If it’s your first time cycling in your town or city with your children, then go for a short trip to get some experience. 

It’s also wise to choose a route with a fun destination like a playground to keep your little ones motivated. Also if they are young, take regular stops to keep them hydrated and engaged. 

4. Be aware of traffic rules

Making sure your children are aware of the basic traffic rules is essential.

Several key practices contribute to safe cycling, both for children and adults. These include:

  • Visibility: Wearing a helmet, using lights and reflectors at night, and staying visible by avoiding dark clothing.
  • Predictability: Obeying traffic signals and signs, and signalling clearly when turning or stopping.
  • Sharing the Road: Riding in the direction of traffic, leaving space for passing vehicles, understanding right-of-way principles, and being aware of other road users.

Enrolling your children in cycle training programs, like Bikeability courses offered by many schools, can significantly improve their cycling ability.

Two children riding on bikes in the park - Bike Club

5. Stay in control of the group

When riding with children you need to be responsible for the whole group. It’s best to ride a bike length or so behind your child to keep an eye on them at all times, and be able to yell orders if need be. 

If riding on roads, you can ride your bike out more to the centre of the road to create more distance between passing traffic and your child. 

If you are riding with two or more children, have the most experienced child lead. Encourage your children to stay alert when riding and anticipate hazards and junctions. They also need to ride in a predictable manner.  

You can ride to the front of the group at junctions to check that it’s safe, then follow after the children. 

6. Take breaks in interesting places

Adding interesting stops to your cycling route will make the journey more exciting for children and keep them motivated. Here are some ideas:

  • Parks and Playgrounds: Incorporate parks and playgrounds into your route for a chance to break up the ride, stretch their legs, and burn off some energy.
  • Local Points of Interest: Plan your route to include interesting landmarks or historical sites. 
  • Treat Stops: Include a stop at a local bakery or ice cream shop for a refreshing treat. This serves as a reward for the effort and adds a fun element to the ride.

7. Lead by Example

Finally, children learn best by observing the behaviour of adults around them. When cycling with your children, your actions speak louder than words.

Demonstrate safe cycling practices by following traffic rules, using hand signals, and wearing a helmet yourself. 

child riding Woom 4 yellow - bike club

Frequently Asked Questions about Cycling with Children in Towns and Cities

What age can my child start cycling in the city?

There's no single age for starting cycling in the city with your child. It depends on their comfort level, balance, and ability to follow instructions. Many children are ready for short, supervised rides on separated bike paths by age 5 or 6. For cycling with you on roads, 9 or 10 is an appropriate age provided they are traffic aware. 

Is it safe to cycle with children in the city in the evening?

Cycling with children in the city during the evening can be a fun way to experience the city in a different light. However, it's important to prioritise safety with some extra precautions:

  • Increased Visibility: Ensure everyone has proper lighting – front lights for illuminating the road ahead and rear lights for better visibility by following vehicles. Reflective clothing is also highly recommended for low-light conditions.
  • Traffic Awareness: Be extra cautious of other road users, especially pedestrians and vehicles with headlights that might make it harder to see cyclists.
  • Route Planning: Opt for well-lit routes with dedicated cycling lanes whenever possible. Avoid unlit paths or areas with heavy traffic in the evening.
  • Time Your Ride: Consider the time of sunset and aim to complete your ride before it gets too dark, especially with younger children.

What are some essential items to pack when cycling with children in the city?

While exploring the city on bikes, it's wise to be prepared for anything. Here are some essentials to pack:

  • Safety Gear: Helmets, a basic first-aid kit for minor scrapes, and suncream for sunny days.
  • Hydration and Snacks: Pack plenty of water bottles for everyone and consider healthy snacks like fruits, granola bars, or energy bites to keep energy levels up during the ride.
  • Extras: Depending on the length of your ride, consider bringing wet wipes for quick clean-ups, a small bike pump, and a light rain jacket for sudden downpours.
Two hcildren with Frog City bikes in town square