Learn to Ride a Bike
Safe Routes to School can teach you or your kid how to ride a bike! We teach kids in local schools and hold several Community Learn to Ride events every year that are completely free, super fun and open to the public. See below for information about how to teach somebody to ride a bike, or to sign up to volunteer at one of our events!
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Helpful Hints for New Riders
1. Lower the seat so they can sit on it and touch the ground flat-footed. This will help them as they get started and lend confidence to kids (or adults) who are scared of falling over.
2. Get them familiar with using hand brakes. Most kids will instinctively try and stop their bike with their feet before they learn how to use their brakes. One way to break them of this habit is to demonstrate for them how much faster you can stop with your brakes than with your feet, then have them push with their feet (while seated on the bike) and try it for themselves.
3. Find a gently sloping hill to practice the push and glide technique. It is key to have them push with both feet at the same time (frog hops) and not in a walking motion, otherwise they will just “walk” around on their bike. The goal is to get them to push and then glide with their feet off the ground for about 10 feet. Keep telling them that they are doing a great job. Remind them that they should keep their eyes up and look where they are going and not down at the bike (you can even walk in front to provide something to look at).
4. Time to try pedaling. Once they have gotten a bit more comfortable balancing, gliding and stopping with their brakes, it’s time to try pedals. Most kids will not want to try the pedals the first time you ask -- just let them go at their own pace and keep on encouraging and celebrating their success. The key here is to get them to glide and then have them “find” the pedals with their feet, which means encouraging them to not look down.
5. Show them the “power pedal push.” Determine which foot they will want to start with on the pedal and which one they want to push off with. Start with the “pedaling” foot on the pedal at the top of its downward stroke, and the “pushing” foot on the ground. Have them push off the ground and push down with the “pedaling” foot at the same time, giving them time to find the other pedal with the “pushing” foot.
With these steps, you should be able to teach most people to ride a bike. Remember that there is no time frame when they “should” have the skill down. Some kids learn in 5 minutes, while some take weeks. Above all, have fun and keep it positive!