Cycling with your family


On behalf of Shirley Quemby

As a cycling grandmother it is a pleasure to me to see so many – young and older – out reminding themselves what a pleasant and practical way cycling is for travelling. It is encouraging to see that parents who have noticed a child has grown have raised the saddle so that only toes reach the ground when seated. Standing on pedals wastes effort and reduces control of steering. Soft tyres make riding not only slow and tiring but can also impede safe steering. The recommended tyre pressure is marked on the tyre wall.

For parents not used to the time and space to ride with their children, there are tips on the Cycling website “How to cycle with your family”. Especially, adults should follow the child, not be in front where they cannot watch the young rider. If a complicated manoeuvre is planned, draw it out on paper at home – augmented with toy cars – so that the young person knows in advance which lane or direction to choose at the junction described.

Children will need guidance on use of brake levers. Using the front only could result in injury to face or loss of front teeth as the child’s ability increases their speed. The back brake can be difficult to use. Ensure rider’s fingers reach each brake lever (there is a tiny screw to adjust for shorter fingers). Seek a friend or cycle shop to ease stiffness.

For the youngster not yet on the carriageway, parents are ensuring their pupil never rides or steps off a kerb without stopping to check for oncoming or turning vehicles. This is a skill invaluable as independence is gained or simply the child reaches the side road in advance of the adult.

If a helmet is worn it must be parallel with the eyebrows to ensure the top of the spine is not at risk in the event of a fall.

We are fortunate having countless quieter roads and paths in our area. These enable inexperienced cyclists to learn basic road sense and cycle control as well as enjoying the adventure of choosing where they want to go. On shared paths, cyclists will need to call out so that pedestrians and dog walkers are not disturbed as a faster vehicle is asking to come by. Dogs must be kept under control at all times to avoid any uncomfortable collisions on shared use paths.

Shirley and Colin Quemby regularly organise rides with CTC South West London. See their site for more information including upcoming rides: &

Posted in Comment, Safe Routes to Schools
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