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To want my kids to learn to ride a bike?

(46 Posts)
tangerino Thu 14-Jul-16 17:47:49

Aargh, my kids are 10 and 8 and can't ride a bike.

We live in the middle of London so learning to ride round the streets isn't really viable and our garden is too small. We had various attempts at driving to a park with bikes but it never really went everywhere (not least because my H insisted on taking their stabilisers off before they could really pedal, but that's a grumble for another day...)

What do I do? Neither seems v keen to try at all but I know they would love it if they could. Anyone in the same boat? I don't think many of their friends have bikes, for similar reasons, but it's a life skill and they can't do it!

Has anyone ever tried lessons for bike riding? Do they even exist?

durezz Thu 14-Jul-16 17:54:30

You're right it's a life skill and they should know how to, I'm in the same boat. My daughters are 8 and 5 and neither know how to ride! We started with the eldest when she was about 5 but we didn't stick to it, lack of patience. She wants to ride too and I think parents should make more of an effort if their child shows interest. But you're saying yours aren't interested?
My hubby has said he wants to remove stabilisers too, if they fall they fall. He wants them to learn balance by themselves.

saltysquid Thu 14-Jul-16 17:58:02

One of my dc learnt using a balance bike and then practiced in the park. The second went to a couple of classes, which were really good.
Learn to Balance and Ride | Cycle Experience

BoboBunnyH0p Thu 14-Jul-16 18:02:53

My DD finally learnt a few weeks ago age 9. It finally happened due to peer pressure, was playing on a friend's bike (she has her own) in the street and she just cracked it. Now need to sort out ds age 5, but he needs a bike first so that's one of his Christmas presents sorted.

Lasaraleen Thu 14-Jul-16 18:05:58

I am 37 and can't ride a bike. Didn't learn as a child for similar reasons and have never had a bike. It's really never been a problem.

Scribblegirl Thu 14-Jul-16 18:08:09

DP is 30 and can't ride a bike. No deprived childhood, very loved but I can't help but find it sad that he was never taught!

Mostly it's just annoying though as it puts paid to my romantic holiday ideas of cycling around European cities and Centre Parcs

EchidnaPorcupine Thu 14-Jul-16 18:08:15

Definitely harder without easy practice ground but I think you need to prioritise it for a while and drive to park every day/week for a period. Rewards if kids aren't keen?

I learnt around 8 or 9 in a few days practising with a Dad who also didn't believe in stabilisers.

Do they still do cycling proficiency at schools? We all did it Y6 I think and everyone could ride by then, was just to learn road rules as you have to ride on road age 11 I think?

whois Thu 14-Jul-16 18:10:43

Don;t bother with the stabalisers - have the seat down low so they can scoot around and get the hang of the balance first.

Bet you could do it in a week - dedicate going to the park 2x a day every day.

Or maybe go on holiday somewhere like centre parcs? Seeing everyone biking around and the traffic free roads would be a good incentive.

ImSoVeryTired Thu 14-Jul-16 18:15:04

Don't force them if they are not interested, it could put them off for life.
My younger brother and sister learnt but I was never interested. My dad decided I should know how, so bought me a (hideous pink) bike (everyone knew I hated pink, apparently he thought it was red in the shop) for my 11th birthday and forced me to ride it up and down the lane we lived on. I was in tears by the end. He ruined my birthday, got me a present I didn't want, expected me to be grateful and I still won't ride a bike now.
If they are interested, go back to the park with stabilisers and take it slower. Go at their pace, they will enjoy it more.

puddock Thu 14-Jul-16 18:15:35
Free sessions here. Also look for Bikeability in your area, and local borough branches of London Cycling Campaign sometimes run sessions for children and adults...

IMO riding a bike is like learning to swim - okay it might not save your life but it's something that's really useful and fun and generally a good life skill, like you say. My DS2 who's 5 has just cracked it and he is so proud of himself! (We went down the balance bike then straight to regular lightweight bike, no stabilizers route - worked well for him.)

Maybe you can find some sort of bike boot camp in a park and make this the summer they learn to do it!

freetrampolineforall Thu 14-Jul-16 18:17:03

Don't worry. Like with swimming, we tried and tried and had obstacles to making it work(not bike obstacles!) and gave up and started again. and it worked. We used a grassy area near us, plugged away and she got it! So proud that I made it happen(have ms) and so proud of her. She was 8.

Busbikebuswalk Thu 14-Jul-16 18:29:29

I tried and tried with DD but she just couldn't do it. Then we took her to a free scheme last year shortly after her 7th birthday. They had her riding in 15 minutes. I was gob smacked.

Apparently, the secret is not to hold the bike but to hold the child while encouraging them to look straight ahead. They also told her to sing. After a few laps of the sports court, they were just correcting her balance by tapping her shoulders.

I will have a go at teaching DS myself this summer. If we end up falling out, I'll book him on a course!

durezz Thu 14-Jul-16 18:38:32

busbike that sounds amazing. Do you remember the name of the free scheme you put her in? I'm due any day now with baby no.4 so can't see myself being able to teach my girls any time soon

Vinorosso74 Thu 14-Jul-16 18:44:31

I've booked my DD (6) on some cycle training sessions during the holidays. It's 2 x 1 hour sesssions and by the end child should be able to cycle. Here's hoping!
Look on your council website for them. Try searching for child group cycle training. We're also London and I agree it's so difficult to learn in the street outside. Likewise garden is tiny!

Busbikebuswalk Thu 14-Jul-16 19:47:10

It's run by our local council, the people who do the cycling proficiency in schools are the instructors. They teach adults and organise bike rides too.

Biscuitbrixit Thu 14-Jul-16 20:04:09

Why is it a life skill?

HubbaBubbaMum Thu 14-Jul-16 21:11:57

How about trying a tag long attached to your own bike? Its a way of the kids getting confidence and having fun before they can ride on their own. Our two DCs loved going on the tag a long before they could ride. Like this

You can get them quite cheap on ebay. Also - look for local traffice free routes in youry area - try the Sustrans website. There are lots of disused railway lines and canal towpaths that are now great family routes with traffic and perfect to learn on

SingingSandwich Thu 14-Jul-16 21:50:50

My girls (6 and 5 at the time) did a free Bikeability course a couple of years ago. Took less than 2 hours for them to go from 'never sat on a bike before' to riding around all by themselves.

I used the techniques they used at that course to teach my DS to ride his bike a month ago. Took me less than half an hour but he had been riding around on a bike for a while beforehand, but with stabilisers.

Def a skill worth learning whilst you're young!

Biscuitbrixit Fri 15-Jul-16 06:39:52

So it's not a life skill?

BarbarianMum Fri 15-Jul-16 06:51:03

I forced ds2 to learn last year (aged 7). There were tears (his and mine) and it took about 6 sessions. As predicted he loves it now he can do it and in the last few weeks has just done a cycle safety course with school and a cycle ride with cubs - both things he'd have hated missing out on if he hadn't learnt.

yabvu Fri 15-Jul-16 09:51:46

Calling it a life skill is ridiculous, but, my husband and I are both keen riders so we were keen for our boys to learn. Our eldest got a balance bike for his second birthday and was scooting along within a few weeks. It only took 20 mins a day for a week before he no longer needed help. He got a proper bike for his third birthday and had mastered pedalling and balancing within an afternoon. Our youngest is fairly good on a balance bike, he'll be 2 in October. Just use bribary / blackmail / encouragement. It's amazing much effort ours put in when promised an ice-cream for pudding.

I know this is AIBU, not advice, but the best thing you can do is remove the pedals (and cranks and chain) and stabalisers. Let them scoot around as though it's a balance bike until they've mastered the balancing. The pedalling part is easy once they can balance.

I completely agree with your husband OP. Stabalisers just hold them back, especially when they're as old as your two. If / when they fall off (assuming no broken bones), simply walk over and pick the bike up for them to get back on, don't rush to the children as it'll make them think it's a big deal.

I have no idea about 'learning to ride' lessons, but cycling proficiency is a waste of time. This was reinforced when I became a trainer a couple of years ago. Old-fashioned and useless advice often doled out by idiots.

BluePitchFork Fri 15-Jul-16 10:17:13

it's a life skill.
it's a cheap and environmentally friendly mode of transport.
it's a viable alternative to public transport especially in areas where there are no reliable busses/trains.

ItGoesWithoutSaying Fri 15-Jul-16 10:47:09

It's a life-skill in the sense that swimming or driving are life-skills. Yes, you can live life without them but there will be occasions when they will be very useful.

MoonriseKingdom Fri 15-Jul-16 11:17:51

I would agree with yavbu's advice.

I learned to ride a bike at the grand old age of 33 having failed on a few times previously. I watched some really good you tube videos which helped. We took the pedals off my bike and had the seat low so I could touch the ground. I practicised every night for a week balancing down a slope in a car park near my house. By the end of the week I had put the pedals back on and could ride a bike! Never thought I would be able to do it but I did. I think stabilisers are counterproductive because you don't learn balance.

idontlikealdi Fri 15-Jul-16 11:21:38

The kids round here go to the local car park to learn without stabilisers on Sundays, in fact I remember learning to ride a bike in a Sainsburys car park when I was little too.

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