Hands down the very best guide to biking with kids is the San Francisco Bike Coalition’s Family Biking Guide (in Chinese and Spanish too!)
Seattle has a growing subculture of parents who are learning how to bike effectively with their children. A great on-line forum is the Facebook group Seattle Family Biking where parents of babies and younger children talk about gear, bikes, schedule riding playmates, and trade ideas for the best ways to keep kids dry in the rain, haul heavy loads up hills, change diapers, and keep kids amused while biking (although in general kids are very rarely bored on bikes!)
Several of these young family bikers also have noteworthy blogs. Most consistent and accessible is Madi Carlson’s Family Ride, following the adventures of an intrepid mom and her three and five-year old boys. Other great blogs (each with more family biking links) are Julian Davies’ Totcycle, Julie Corder Medero’s Wheelha, and Davey Oil’s Beginning to Bike with Kids series.
Many of the families who write local blogs come along on Spokespeople rides. We’re always delighted to see them (and learn more from them about biking with children). Because SPOKESPEOPLE is a Cascade Bike Club-sponsored ride, we do have some rules about riding children.
SPOKESPEOPLE rides with children
- Children must have parents or legal guardians with them at all times. Parents, bring YOUR bikes and ride with us!
- Babies. Small babies just don’t have the neck muscles needed to support helmets. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children under one year of age should not ride in a trailer or bike seat. People do ride with babies in specially manufactured bike seats, but until your baby can support a helmet, we must politely ask you to return to SPOKESPEOPLE when your baby can support a helmet.
- SPOKESPEOPLE recommends bike riders under nine years not ride on our Seattle streets until our city builds “Portland-style” greenways (please read more about knowing when to take younger children on the road here). Most of our rides start in parks and there is so much to do in a park including paths to practice cycling skills!
- Children younger than nine often lack the motor and developmental skills needed for road biking with cars. Kids also haven’t had driving experience. They don’t know road dangers the same way adults do. Younger kids can have a great time riding on dedicated bike paths, in parks, and on sidewalks, but young children cannot be expected to go on longer SPOKESPEOPLE rides without very close parental supervision. In time, Seattle will have more safe and healthy streets for biking so younger kids can ride safely!
- You need to make sure your bikes are ready for the road. Your bike needs to have brakes, handlebars, seat posts, and tires in good working order. You can’t ride with a broken bike. We can’t fix your bike but we can make minor fitting adjustments at SPOKESPEOPLE rides. This is especially true for children’s bikes which must fit and work properly.
- Helmets need to be SNELL or CPSC certified. Both children and adults must wear a helmet. We have helmets for sale at a low cost at SPOKESPEOPLE rides if you come to a ride without a certified helmet.
- SPOKESPEOPLE rides are designed to help all people, young and old, expert and novice enjoy a positive urban road-riding experience. SPOKESPEOPLE will grow if you are safe, successful, and supported as you connect to the cycling community.
SPOKESPEOPLE rides with YOU!
- Adults who are returning riders need to build cycling confidence. Expert commuters will be at SPOKESPEOPLE rides to help you develop good road skills. As an adult you have the necessary judgment and motor skills to ride on the road and SPOKESPEOPLE rides will help you build your confidence. You are a SPOKESPERSON when you return and bring your friends!
- Expert bikers – we welcome and need your participation in SPOKESPEOPLE rides! Your participation is essential in modeling skillful riding techniques on more challenging urban rides. You can take a training to learn how to help returning adult cyclists gain confidence or how to teach cycling skills to children. You can assist a trainer as a volunteer on any SPOKESPEOPLE ride day. If you want to learn to be a ride leader get in touch with SPOKESPEOPLE! firstname.lastname@example.org (206) 547-9569