Eight Ways to Get Your Kids (and Yourself) Into Biking

Article at a Glance

  • Biking is a great fitness activity for all ages, and Utah has a rich cycling community.
  • Family bike riding is not only possible for the whole family, but an excellent way to bond and foster a love of fitness.
  • Teach children the rules of the road for safe cycling.

Cycling is one of the best low-impact exercises available for cardio conditioning, and it’s also a social sport that families can enjoy together. One silver lining of the 2020 pandemic is that many more people have taken up upcycling.

Luckily, Utah is home to a fantastic biking community with a large selection of clubs, races, and non-profit organizations that all want to share their enthusiasm for biking.

But as parents, we know kids can be fickle creatures, so how can you get your kids into biking, and further, (gasp!) get them to like it?

1) Get Them a Bike and Teach Them to Care For It

If your kids don’t already have a bike, do a bit of research and get them the right bike. Utah is also home to the Bicycle Collective, a non-profit that helps refurbish bikes for lower-income families.

This YouTube Video covers basic bike maintenance for children’s bikes:

2) Check Out Local Utah Biking Events

Each summer Sundance and Solider Hollow resorts put on the Weekly Race Series, which includes a kids’ race for ages 12 and under. The series helps kids to:

  • Develop confidence and a love of biking
  • Meet with others who also like to bike
  • Stay more active this summer

The kids’ races are free and designed for all levels of biking ability.

For day camps and week-long camps, Young Riders Youth Mountain Bike Program has camps throughout the summer for riders ages 5 and up from Pee Wee to Advanced to accommodate all different skill levels.

Mad Dog Cycles Ride and Seek event encourages families to explore Utah Valley and find prizes along the way. It’s like a biking treasure hunt that adults and kids of all ages will enjoy. Follow Mad Dog on Facebook and Instagram for the clues and take your kids on a ride to look for the weekly Mad Dog water bottle filled with prizes.

3) Kick Off Spring with Bike Month Each May in Provo and SLC

The city hosts a biking-related activity almost every day, making this a great way to get your family excited about their summer cycling goals. View the daily biking events for Bike Month 2022 here and learn more at bikeprovo.org and slc.gov.

4) Don’t Forget Special Needs Kids

If you have a special needs child in your family, it may come as news to you that there are organizations that want to get them into biking!

The Elevate Program (4) is a Utah non-profit for teens with disabilities. They are a bike league that helps 7th through 12th graders enjoy the character-building benefits of mountain bike racing in a team environment.

5) Plan Scenic Family Rides

Utah County has several great rides away from the dangers of parked and moving cars. These are three of our favorites:

  • Provo River Parkway: Locals should all be familiar with this trail but it’s easy to forget what a treasure it is. Smooth pavement runs for fifteen miles among the soaring cliffs and beautiful Provo River. Bring a picnic to enjoy at one of the parks along the way.
  • Hobble Creek Paved Trail: Great for families and under five miles both ways.
  • Murdock Canal Trail: This newer trail runs from Provo all the way north to Thanksgiving Point and connects to several other trails like the Highland Glen Trail and the Lindon Heritage Trail.

Check out this index of many more family-friendly bike rides in Utah.

6) Join or Create Non-Competitive Group Rides

Check into organized group rides in your area or arrange your own ride right in your neighborhood.

Enlist some other parents and map out a quiet route for an early morning group ride. Wrap up your ride back where you started and enjoy a treat together. It could become a neighborhood tradition!

7) Don’t Wait for the Kids to Get Bigger

Most families have at least one child too young to keep up the pace. But don’t let smaller riders stop you from getting out and enjoying a family spin. Bike trailers, strider bikes, trail-a-bikes, and even Dutch-style “bakfiets” can make biking fun for all.

8) Remember Safety is Always “King of the Mountain”

Helmet Safety Tips:

  • Your helmet should meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) standards. You can tell by looking for the CPSC sticker.
  • Wear it all the time, even for short rides.
  • Make sure it fits properly. Easy Steps to Properly Fit a Bicycle Helmet (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
  • Replace any helmet that is damaged.

Maintaining Your Bike

Before you ride, make sure your brakes work and your tires are inflated. Make sure your wheels, handlebars, and seat are tightened properly. And don’t forget to check and oil your chain on a regular basis.

All of these steps can be taught to older children but don’t forget to let younger kids help. Watching and helping you go through a safety check models the behavior you want them to learn.

Dress Properly

  • Wear sports shoes when riding a bike. Don’t wear sandals, flip-flops or go barefoot.
  • Wear bright, neon clothing so motorists can easily see you.
  • Watch out for loose pant legs, shoelaces, dresses, or backpacks that can get caught in the wheels.

Riding at Night

  • Avoid riding at night when possible.
  • Use reflective tape or flashing lights.
  • Wear bright clothing.

Be Careful

  • Always keep both hands on your handlebars.
  • Don’t ride with headphones.
  • Watch for puddles, curbs, dogs, gravel, cars, people, and glass.
  • Always ride one person per bike. Don’t put kids on your handlebars.

Riding Around Cars

Children under 10 should always ride on the sidewalk. Don’t let children ride by themselves until you are sure they are mature enough to go on their own.

Teach kids to:

  • Watch for cars pulling out of driveways.
  • Cross busy roads by walking their bikes.
  • Always cross at intersections or crosswalks. Don’t pull out between parked cars.
  • Not ride too close to parked cars-doors can sometimes open suddenly.
  • Yield to pedestrians and warn them they are coming by saying, “Passing on your left.”
  • Not assume that cars can see them. Wait to make sure they have made eye contact with the driver before making left turns or crossing roads.

As kids get older, they will start riding on the streets. It is important to go over the rules of the road. Reading through Utah Cycling Laws together is a great place to start.

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