Take care when riding that Christmas bicycle

PARENTS who have bought their children new bicycles for Christmas are being encouraged to make sure they teach them to ride correctly and that the bikes are properly adjusted.

“Even in these days of high-tech gadgets and gizmos, the traditional Christmas gift of a brand-new bike is still very popular,” says Pam Shaw, Nottinghamshire County Council’s road safety manager.

“But parents should make sure that, not only is the bike correctly adjusted for height and comfort, but that their child is shown the correct way to ride a bike safely and confidently.”

Pam suggests the following techniques:

l try to avoid using stabilisers as they can be relied upon too heavily and the child will be more likely to become nervous if they are removed

l adjust the seat, so that the child can put both feet flat to the floor

l remove the pedals from the bicycle and let your child use it like a hobby until they’ve gained balance and confidence

l stand in front of the bike and hold on to the handlebars, walking backwards in a straight line. This involves minimum physical contact between trainer and trainee. Make sure your child looks at you and not at their feet to begin with

l use lots of praise and encouragement and plenty of patience. Make small advances, keeping the bicycle straight

l gradually lift one hand for a second or two and replace. Repeat this exercise gradually, taking the hand off longer each time, eventually taking off one hand and then both

l do a little each day. As your child gains confidence and stays at a slow pace, greater balance and control is achieved. Remember to reinforce keeping the head up, looking ahead and pedal slowly, using the brakes when needed.

More information is available by visiting www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/travelling/roads/roadsafety/roadsafety-cyclists/how-to-teach-a-child-to-ride-a-bike