Do you need a bit of motivation, or some well reasoned selling points up your sleeve? Here are my top 10 answers to the question of “Why cycle with kids?”:
- It is fun. Kids know it, and just to convince the grown ups…. have you noticed how many bikes are used in advertising these days. There is a reason for that: bikes are a symbol of fun, freedom and adventure. Biking is about simple, un-rushed pleasure.
- It is slow. Huh? Aren’t we too busy to be slow? Well, yes, exactly! Sometimes we just need to slow down and see what we are missing when we rush through our lives. Biking with your kids means really experiencing the world around you, stopping to explore or chat, and moving at a more child friendly pace for a while.
- It is time. Of all the gifts we give our children the ones they remember most are time and shared experiences. Getting out on our bikes and sharing some time together, undistracted by chores, devices or interruptions is a precious gift indeed.
- It is learning. Some of the best learning of all comes so well disguised that we don’t even realise it is happening. Biking together is an opportunity to learn new skills, impart knowledge and tell family stories. And not just about cycling: about the world around us, perseverance, courage, trying new things, respect, tolerance, navigation, self-management…. the list is huge.
- It is sharing. Paths, tracks, footpaths, road space – when you are out on the bike you are sharing space with other people. People on foot, cars, other bike users, farmers, disabled users, dog-walkers, etc. Learning to share with care is a life skill worthy of it’s own mention. Our kids will be much better and safer drivers from having been coached in this skill from an early age.
- It is healthy. 1 in 9 Kiwi kids are obese and plenty more are overweight. We are not moving as much as we should, and are surrounded by lots of yummy treats that are just a little bit too easy to get hold of. So have your cake (ice cream, chocolate…) and eat it too: food is energy in, cycling is energy out. My kind of maths!
- It is green. Using a bike instead of a car for some of your trips is a worthy goal to have. The vast majority of our car trips are less than 3km. With kids that might seem to far to walk, but definitely not to far to cycle. When you start out cycling for fun on the weekend, it may give you the confidence you need to use your bike for other trips too, and then we all win: you, your health, and our planet.
- It is outside. ‘Nature deficit disorder’ is a term coined to describe the challenge that we are not spending enough time outdoors. Research is increasingly showing just how much we benefit from time outside. Beyond the exercise benefits, it is a great stress-reducer. In our busy lives that sounds just the ticket!
- It is a life skill. The world is changing, our lives are busier, our cities are more populous and congested. The worlds best thinkers are struggling with these challenges. Many agree that riding a bike is a good way to address some of those problems: encouraging us to live closer to where we work and play, and reducing the amount of traffic pollution and congestion. Riding safely and confidently is a key to independent mobility later in life. And it might even mean you aren’t signing up to be your kids taxi driver well into their teen years.
- It is fun. Is it cheating to mention fun twice? No surely not! ( I have many more reasons I could put in instead). Fun gets a second mention because it is the top reason to bike with your kids. And who doesn’t want more fun in their life!
There you have it, motivation sorted. Just remember the saying “the hardest part of going for a run is getting your shoes on”. Sometimes getting started is tricky, but we get going when we focus on just how great it will be once we are on our way and doing what we enjoy. Now you’ve got 10 things to focus on, so grab your bikes and get out there!