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- Children's cycling awareness courses
Cycling for youngsters
Cycling is great fun! What's more, a bicycle will help your child develop, balance and co-ordinate. However, too many children are injured each year while 'playing' on their bikes.
Free Cycling Courses
Bexley's youngsters can sign-up for free cyclist training courses during school holidays.
Bikeability is organised by the Council and aims to give competent cyclists basic safety awareness using a mix of fun off-road exercises and practical on-road training.
Check out the latest holiday courses by clicking the link on the left of this page.
A bicycle is more than a toy and children need help to understand how to keep themselves safe while riding.
When children first learn to ride bikes, it takes all their concentration just to stay upright. As they become more skilled, they will be able to steer properly, but will still find it difficult to pay attention to what is going on around them. For this reason alone, young children must be kept well away from traffic.
Choosing a bicycle
If a bicycle is too small for the rider, pedaling and steering is awkward. If a bicycle is too big, stopping and starting is difficult and dangerous. Please don't be tempted to buy a bike that is too big so your child can grow into it. To help you make sure the bicycle fits the rider check that your child:
- can reach the handlebars without stretching
- is not leaning too far forward
- can easily reach and use the brake levers
- can touch the ground with both feet while sitting on the saddle
These checks will help you choose the right bicycle for your child. They can also be used to re-check the riding position regularly.
Try to go to a specialist bike shop; there will be a wide choice and expert advice. Take your child with you so they can try out the bike. Choose one that meets British Standards (BS 5665/1 for youngsters or BS 6102/1 for older children). Check your child can use the brakes easily. Ask about the after-sales service. Choose an approved helmet at the same time and insist your child always wears it when riding.
If you are going to buy a second-hand cycle, check its condition carefully. In particular look at the saddle, tyres and the paintwork. Ask how old it is, how it's been used and looked after. Signs that it has had a heavy knock are: bent forks, wrinkled paint or a twisted frame. If you buy a second-hand bike privately, it's a good idea to have it checked over by a bike shop.
Looking after the bicycle
It is important that, right from the start, children understand how important it is to check their bike regularly to make sure it is fit to ride. By watching you go over the checks, your child will soon pick up the skills they need to maintain their bike safely.
It is important that your child can easily reach and use the brakes. It is easy to adjust the position of the brake levers, just follow the instructions in the manual.
The brakes should hold the wheel tight when pulled and well before the levers touch the handlebars. If they don't, the cable will need tightening. Check the cables for signs of fraying and the brake blocks for signs of wear.
Saddle and handlebars
On most bikes, the positions of the saddle and the handlebars can be altered as the rider grows, but there is a limit to the amount of adjustment. Follow the instructions in the manual and always leave at least 5cm of saddle stem inside the frame. The safety mark on the stem must not be visible. Always check that nuts are fully tightened after making any adjustments.
Wheels and tyres
Pinch the sides of the tyres. If they squash easily, pump them until they are firm. If you have a foot pump, be careful not to exceed the maximum pressure shown on the wall of each tyre. Look for cuts and bald patches. Replace worn or damaged tyres. Check for buckled wheels by spinning free. Look for 'sideways' or 'up or down' buckle. Replace buckled wheels or take to a dealer to have them straightened.
Every time the cycle is used, brakes should be working properly and reflectors should be clean.
If the cycle is used every day, check the brake blocks about once a week for wear and alignment; tyre pressure and condition should be checked and all nuts and bolts should be tightened. Oil the chain about once every two weeks.
Because children can grow quickly, check your child's riding position about once a month. Also once a month, check the chain for rust or wear; check cables are not fraying and that any gears are working properly. Take the bicycle to a specialist shop once a year for a service.
- Road Safety Education Full details for Road Safety Education