Over the past few months, our girls have been taking part in a few kids triathlons. The bike part of these is the most challenging for them, and is something we've tried to help them with.
With the triathlons involving riding on roads in some cases, we have been trying to take our girls out on the roads on their bikes to learn the road rules. Fortunately we live in a quiet suburb, so there are plenty of safe places to practice turns, roundabouts and signalling, and each time we go out, they are learning more and improving.
Cycling Proficiency in the UK
Growing up in England, when I was at primary school (about our girls age) we had cycling road rule lessons at school. The playground was set up with cones and road markings and we cycled around learning the road rules. At the end of our 'training' we took a Cycling Proficiency Test and if we passed got our cycling proficiency badge and were ready to cycle on the roads. This test has since been upgraded to a programme called Bikeability. There are now 3 levels and badges, but no test at the end. I think it is such a great idea and programme to help prepare kids for biking on the roads.
Here in Australia unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a national bike programme like Bikeability. I have just discovered that one of the local state schools here in Cairns, has a bike education programme for their kids, with a mock road set up complete with street signs and traffic lights. Learning to cycle and follow the road rules is apparently part of their school curriculum ! What a great idea and resource for the school to have.
Our school does not have a programme like this, so I will continue to take our girls out myself and teach them road rules, getting them to practice and learn from real experience on quiet roads.
I do wish there was an equivalent to the Bikeability programme here in Australia - and making it part of the primary school curriculum is a fabulous idea. I would be all for that!
Is there a bike learning or safety programme for kids in your country or your school? How did you yourself learn road safety on a bike? and how are you teaching your kids this?