|Bike to School Challenge (via Bicycling.com)|
In an age where obesity is termed an epidemic, global warming is more accepted as reality and pain at the pump continues, more Americans are replacing the combustible engine methods of transportation with bike commuting.
And it’s not just the adults who are making the switch. School is back in session and across the nation, school age kids are rediscovering a mode of transport – the trusty steel steed, the two-wheeled tons of fun – the bicycle. According to People For Bikes, 48 percent of U.S. children biked or walked to school 40 years ago. Today, just 12 percent of children arrive at school by bike or foot. During this 40 year period, childhood obesity has tripled, while the number of kids who are driven to school has increased nearly 400 percent. But cycling, once a purely recreational activity, is making a comeback.
Earlier this year, Bicycling.com featured an inspirational story on the nation's largest youth bicycling movement, Century Cycle's Bike To School Challenge. Biking is a great way to teach kids healthy and sustainable habits while having fun. In addition, kids who bike or walk to school have also proven to perform measurably better on tasks that demand concentration versus those who arrived by motor vehicle or public transportation. More obviously, kids who develop the habit of biking regularly are also a lot less likely to be overweight as adults.
As with any new endeavor, it can be an intimidating task to set your child up for cycling success, but here are five required items to help smooth the transition from bus route to bike path.
|Biking to school (via theguardian.com)|
When considering your child’s commute to school, safety is obviously number one. Bright, visible clothing is fundamental. Reflectivity is a must for early morning and dusk commutes – whether in vest form or reflective tape.
Make sure your kid has bike lights for the handlebars, seat posts and backpacks. Blinking, high-wattage lights draw attention to your burgeoning bike commuter.
|Julbo's kids sunglasses (via mountaindiva.com)|
Your mini-me is going to need eye protection from the glare and grit of the road. Check out the Naomi shades for your third grader and the Rookies for your sixth grader. They should fit with the youngster’s helmet, too!
Get your child’s bike checked out at your local bike shop. Maintenance by a trained bike mechanic will help prevent breakdowns to and from school.
|Learning the rules of the roads (via usfbc.org)|
Know the traffic laws
Make sure your child knows the rules of the road – knowledge of right-of-ways and proper hand signals ensures clear communication with vehicles and pedestrians.
With bike-sharing programs taking off in formidable concrete jungles such as New York City and D.C. – places that were formerly reserved for only the most seasoned and fearless of cyclists – we can only assume a steady rise in non-recreational cycling. Getting kids started on the right foot (or in this case, a properly inflated wheel) is an important step in capturing and maintaining the momentum of bike commuting. An early and safe introduction to cycling benefits us all – it’s good for our future.