There are two old school approaches to teaching a child to ride a bicycle. The first is to put the child on a bike and push them around until they figure out how to balance. The other is to slap on a pair of training wheels on the bike and let them ride around on those until they don’t need them anymore. Letting them teach themselves by giving them a bike with no instructions and hoping they don’t get hurt too bad isn’t really teaching so I don’t count that method. There is a better way.
La Bikery in Moncton, New Brunswick has asked for old bicycles so that they can build coaster bikes to help new riders to learn. A coaster bike is just a bicycle without pedals and it can be a terrific tool in teaching children (and adults) to ride with minimum risk of painful consequences.
The bicycle is usually an old one that probably isn’t worth fixing up for any other purpose. The seat is lowered so the riders can put their feet flat on the ground and propel themselves by pushing off. The pedals are removed (if they were still there in the first place) so that the rider doesn’t risk bruising their shins on them or worse getting tangled up with them and falling. One note of caution: Make sure that the bike has operational brakes especially if the lessons take place on a slope.
It is surprising how quickly new riders will learn to balance a bicycle on one of these coaster bikes. My youngest picked it up within an hour. Once they have successfully learned to balance they can confidently transition to a regular bicycle and propel themselves by pedal power.
Get out on a bicycle. It is one of the most efficient means of transportation ever devised by humankind. It’s good for the environment and it’s good for you.
More Cycling With Children From Pico (Photos and titles are clickable links)
After touring solo as a single man, I was determined that getting married and having a family wasn't going to be the end of bicycle touring for me. This was our first family multi day tour.
It is not easy to bicycle tour safely with young children, but it can be done. With careful planning, consistent training and patience we managed and have had some memorable inexpensive family vacations as a result.