Author Topic: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?  (Read 8003 times)

Thegoblinchief

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My older kids are 6 (7 next month) and 8. They're pretty competent bikers at this point, and capable of doing 10 miles roundtrip so far. A lot of routes can only be efficiently residential for so long, after which we have to get onto a "main" road. Some have bike lanes, others are wide enough that we COULD ride safely in the street, but so far I've been keeping them on the walks.

Thoughts? I'm considering trying to transition them onto streets with some traffic. There are streets I definitely wouldn't consider, but these are also streets I typically avoid, even when biking by myself or with them confined to the trailer.

I know age is only one possible criteria, but am I crazy to even think about doing this at this age?

Gin1984

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2014, 12:17:57 PM »
My (old) state allows children under the age of 18 to be considered pedestrians and bike on the sidewalk, therefore until they were teens I'd rather they bike of the sidewalk.

Beric01

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2014, 12:26:17 PM »
My (old) state allows children under the age of 18 to be considered pedestrians and bike on the sidewalk, therefore until they were teens I'd rather they bike of the sidewalk.

Sidewalk riding is actually more dangerous than street riding though, since drivers aren't expecting something to be traveling faster than a walking speed when on the sidewalk. Back in my driving days, I had a couple close calls with kids riding behind parked cars on the sidewalk and darting across intersections, where I had little to no visibility.

The safest place for a bicyclist is in the street, where drivers can see them. You just need to make sure kids can consistently ride in a straight line and observe safe procedures such as signalling.

scrubbyfish

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2014, 02:59:12 PM »
My kid (now 9.5) has been cycling on some streets with me since he was about 6.

HOWEVER...
1. I hate it/find it very stressful and avoid it a lot.
2. I put him through a course (PedalHeads) first, as he hears better from strangers rules and strategies, and got lots of practice there.
3. I am still pretty Mama Bear where I feel the need, moving into what I consider a protective position between him and the rest of the road, if the cars are being dicks and driving too close to him, pressuring him into moving toward the parked cars, etc.
4. Even when we're single file, some people yell at him or us.
5. He is still a bit out to lunch at points, and I feel it's necessary to stay quite on top of him at critical points.
6. I absolutely don't put him on the major urban streets, like Kingsway, ever.

A couple of times his respite workers took him onto the more intense streets, and each worker felt fine about it, but I didn't and banned it.

Something I keep in mind (including for walking) is an article I read about kid brain development, which said that brain parts related to assessing distance and speed of a car, etc, do not exist/develop until about age 10. According to this article, kids simply do not have the same ability as adults to perceive how other traffic is in relation to them. This is my biggest concern -well, that and the incredible idiocy of some drivers (and cyclists).

Also, my son has a serious developmental delay, so in some ways is more like maybe a six year old, and I take that into account too.

bogart

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2014, 03:45:47 PM »
am I crazy to even think about doing this at this age?

Can't speak to that as I don't know your roads, and I don't qualify as part of a "Biking family."  But I have a (developmentally typical) 7-year old, and I can tell you 2 things I've noticed about (a) him and biking and (b) him and traffic.  (A) is distractability; the best example was riding down the bike lane on the "big" (not very) road in our neighborhood and him saying, "Look!  Chickens!"  As some of our neighbor's chickens were out scratching for nibblets in their yard.  Lovely birds, and no problem with the cars, but he came within inches of pedaling his head into a mailbox that is the same height as his head on a bike (and obviously, it wasn't cars or anything really dangerous given the speed he was moving, but it could as easily have been).  As for (b), he is very cautious about cars, car traffic, and so on.  But I notice that he focuses in on one detail (e.g. "I must not cross the street until that car that is approaching on the left has passed.") and as soon as that detail isn't relevant, deduces that the situation is safe ("Now that that car has passed, it is safe to cross."), failing to do things like evaluate whether another car is coming behind the car that passed, or whether another car is coming from the other side of the road, or ...

And when he moves, he moves fast, so the possibility of his misjudging something and darting into the road is real.

Your kids sound more experienced as bikers than mine, so they may have better judgment, but I'm sure not planning to take mine biking on busy streets anytime soon.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2014, 04:28:12 PM »
And when he moves, he moves fast, so the possibility of his misjudging something and darting into the road is real.

Your kids sound more experienced as bikers than mine, so they may have better judgment, but I'm sure not planning to take mine biking on busy streets anytime soon.

They're good at judging street crossings. Paying closer attention on today's ride, I think they're still a bit too uneven/erratic about biking in a straight line. Plus, god knows I get enough comments when I have them in the trailer on busy roads. I can only wonder about what kind of verbal abuse I'll get if we biked. Maybe we'll wait a year or two.

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2014, 06:40:24 PM »
We're thinking of getting a trail gator.  So our bike becomes sorta a double using theirs.  I've also seen trail a bikes.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2014, 07:49:31 PM »
We're thinking of getting a trail gator.  So our bike becomes sorta a double using theirs.  I've also seen trail a bikes.

Trail a bikes don't teach them anything.

Lkxe

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2014, 08:22:21 PM »
I was going to post that I was considering that for my nearly ten year old when I was interrupted by his arrival home with a knock to his noggin. It seems he and a buddy thought sliding down the stairs together on a sled was a great idea. I think we will wait a little longer.

sol

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2014, 08:39:10 PM »
I was riding around town unsupervised at age 12.  With no helmet.  But I knew to ride on the sidewalks on busy streets.

My oldest just turned 11 and he's fine riding in the street in most neighborhoods.  I'll only take him on busy roads if there's a painted bike lane.  I absolutely will NOT take him most of the places I bike in the street, like out into left hand turn lanes or on shoulderless arterials. 

We had some close calls when he was younger. We'd be riding on quiet streets and come up to a busy intersection with a stop sign and he'd blow right through it without looking because he didn't like stopping and restarting.  Kids don't necessarily understand that even though the pavement is continuous, there are invisible barriers to how a road can be used.

My 8 year old daughter is confined to sidewalks and quiet streets for now. 

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2014, 08:53:56 PM »
I was riding around town unsupervised at age 12.  With no helmet.  But I knew to ride on the sidewalks on busy streets.

My oldest just turned 11 and he's fine riding in the street in most neighborhoods.  I'll only take him on busy roads if there's a painted bike lane.  I absolutely will NOT take him most of the places I bike in the street, like out into left hand turn lanes or on shoulderless arterials. 

We had some close calls when he was younger. We'd be riding on quiet streets and come up to a busy intersection with a stop sign and he'd blow right through it without looking because he didn't like stopping and restarting.  Kids don't necessarily understand that even though the pavement is continuous, there are invisible barriers to how a road can be used.

My 8 year old daughter is confined to sidewalks and quiet streets for now.

Sol, I was hoping you'd chime in!

Yeah, I definitely wouldn't consider trying to do left turns and whatnot. Painted bike lanes in my immediate neighborhood are pretty scarce.

kmm

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2014, 09:11:25 PM »
I live in a large-ish Northeast city and ride with my 8-year old on the street. Most roads are fairly busy so I don't try to avoid traffic, but like Sol I stick to painted bike lanes (we're lucky to have a few streets where the bike lane is built into the sidewalk, which is really great). For left turns we move over to the sidewalk and cross like pedestrians.

It made me nervous at first, so we'd only go short distances and then we'd head back to the sidewalk. But he has excellent balance and concentration, and I became confident in his abilities the more I watched him ride.

I've heard that your child should ride in front of you so you can see him, but I have mine ride behind so that I can make all the necessary stops and avoid car doors, parking cars, etc. I look back at him frequently to make sure he's close behind me, but not too close. We don't ride nearly as fast as he would like. We've been doing it for about six months, and I haven't received a negative comment from passersby yet.

Most of my friends think I'm nuts, though.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2014, 09:17:34 PM by kmm »

Nudelkopf

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2014, 03:15:14 AM »
I started to ride the 2km to school by myself when I was 7 yo. Mum only just admitted that it probably wasn't the best idea. I rode on the road most of the time because there wasn't a footpath most of the time. I only started riding wholly on the road til I'd finished high school. (For what its worth)

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2014, 06:03:58 AM »
I have biked with my four month old in a trailer on some low traffic back roads.  For solo biking I think that it depends on the skill and experience of the kid on a bike.  I wouldn't bike in heavy inner city traffic with the kid much under 15, but would be fine with a 7-8 year old biking on quiet suburban streets.  It's very dependant on route and kid.

Dee18

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2014, 07:45:17 AM »
I think a trail a bike is a fabulous way for a child to learn about riding in traffic.  From age 4 through 8 my daughter rode her own bike most of the time, but on Sunday mornings she rode the trail-a-bike for a longer trip in traffic. As we rode I talked about what I was doing and why....such as "I'm being sure to ride in a straight line so cars will know where I am going" and " I see that parked car has a driver so I am being careful in case he opens his door." We also practiced signaling turns.  Then we continued our Sunday rides with her in front so I could be sure she was being safe.....now she's a great rider...and about to head off to college! Time flies.

MidwestGal

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2014, 08:02:53 AM »
My child is 10 now, and nearly to the point where I would feel comfortable about biking to school on the street alone (taking the same route every time) most days, BUT on the sidewalk when actually riding the street that the school is on.  The latte-sipping SUV drivers can be crazy rude about how they need to get their kids to school RIGHT NOW in the mornings.

When we do family rides (our neighborhood is very bike-friendly), the kiddo is generally leading up front where we can watch and give gentle reminders .  For the most part we don't have to.  As a bonus, my spouse and I get to watch the decision-making as it happens.  So every new route involves more stop signs, learning to be more assertive with right-of-way, and keeping oneself visible to traffic, while the rest of us follow and see how it goes.  Our problem is overcaution (is that a word?) and I would worry that less patient drivers would try to sneak around when my kid was at a stop sign, trying to decide exactly when to go.

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2014, 08:28:05 AM »
My 5 year old granddaughter is now riding and wants to go on the bike path.. and I"m STILL scared!! it's still next to a two lane highway..  It's still scary.. It seems like nothing is safe anymore.. people on cell phones while driving etc..

usmarine1975

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2014, 09:14:46 AM »
I bought a Utility trailer in anticipation of the day we can do family rides.  Yes a utility trailer because I feel I can use it for both hauling stuff around the house etc... Or I can use it to put my son and new Baby in when my wife and I take rides.  I had looked into the kid trailers but they have no other use.  Maybe I will get blasted for this but I feel I can safely strap and cart my kid around on the utility trailer.  If I find I am wrong I will cease.  I am however looking forward to the comments.  I did have a conversation with a neighbor about it and she kinda just looked at me like your going to do what. 

Man what world did these people grow up in?  I rode around town all the time no helmet etc...  Sure a clothesline took me out a few times but it was a good way to grow up.  I also delivered papers on my bike starting at the age of 10.  My dad would take us to the apartments back then we could sit in the back of the pick up truck and no one would even bat an eye.  Do that today and you would be in jail.  My how times have changed.

MidwestGal

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2014, 09:51:22 AM »
I"m STILL scared!!

Starting the little one on a moderately heavy MUP was good.  We taught riding straight and to the right, warning other users ahead, cycling commands, and turn signals.  It was a lot easier without the pressure of four wheeled traffic.  The only ones we added after getting on the roads were "car up" and "car back" when riding as a group.

.. people on cell phones while driving etc..

We were on a ride last night, it was an absolutely perfect evening.  Coming to a 4-way all-stop intersection, my child was leading as usual.  This lady to our right was yelling so loudly at her cell phone, in her vehicle with the windows down, that we could hear her well before her stop sign.  We had arrived well before she came to an abrupt halt and she waved for us to go ahead, but I could tell that the kiddo was unnerved and wanted her gone.  Even extremely cautious children can make bad decisions when intimidated, so I'm actually glad we had this opportunity to talk about after the ride was over.  We ended up going ahead, but she was still yelling at the phone and I caught my kid glancing nervously at her while we crossed to the other side.

Once we pass the visibly nervous stage when stuff like this happens, I'll probably give the go-ahead to explore the neighborhood alone, with set boundaries, by road.  In my opinion the sidewalk is more dangerous at cycling speeds for a child.  They're smaller and harder for inattentive drivers to find when entering/exiting parking lots or driveways.

...I feel I can use it for both hauling stuff around the house etc... Or I can use it to put my son and new Baby in when my wife and I take rides.  I had looked into the kid trailers but they have no other use...

Man what world did these people grow up in?  I rode around town all the time no helmet etc...  Sure a clothesline took me out a few times but it was a good way to grow up.  I also delivered papers on my bike starting at the age of 10.  My dad would take us to the apartments back then we could sit in the back of the pick up truck and no one would even bat an eye.  Do that today and you would be in jail.  My how times have changed.

Huh, never even thought of that.  When my kid was little our bike trailer got used all of twice (this was pre-mustachian bike era for me), so I guess I could see that.  I think there's generally a seatbelt law for children no matter what the state (completely unsure) but that may only be for motor vehicles.  You take the risks you're comfortable with, as do we all.

As for your second point, see my comment above.  There were a lot less distractions (especially ones that took attention as well as a hand away) when we were children.  The radio/sound system maybe?  A cute dude/chick walking by?  Now it's checking the GPS/telling off someone on the phone/checking facebook/texting/all that other BS.  Goodness forbid, if any of us get hit I worry that it will be someone who didn't have the presence of mind to brake before contact.  We do helmets but there are plenty of riders around here who don't.  Personal choice.

SisterX

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2014, 11:28:12 AM »
We're thinking of getting a trail gator.  So our bike becomes sorta a double using theirs.  I've also seen trail a bikes.

Trail a bikes don't teach them anything.

I'm curious why you feel that way, since kids actually learn a lot from watching the adults around them.  I would think that riding a trail-a-bike until you're more comfortable with them riding alone, especially if you talk to them about what's going on and why you ride the way you do, would be incredibly valuable.  But my little one is only 8 months old, so feel free to explain why you (the more experienced parent by far, and of older children) feel the way you do.  I'd love to hear it.

usmarine1975

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #20 on: August 01, 2014, 11:50:00 AM »
  I think there's generally a seatbelt law for children no matter what the state (completely unsure) but that may only be for motor vehicles.  You take the risks you're comfortable with, as do we all.

I will need to check the laws in my area but as stated I will have some sort of seat belt in the utility trailer.  My oldest is 2 I wouldn't trust him to not jump out whenever he wants too.  Most of our rides would be on bike paths with no cars or around town in the city in which I live and most likely with him in the back I would ride on the sidewalk.  Which will be fine because most City residents walk on the street not the sidewalk. (I still haven't figured that out)

 We do helmets but there are plenty of riders around here who don't.  Personal choice.

I ride motorcycle without a helmet much to my wife's dismay.  It is a personal choice in my mind and one I am comfortable with.  I didn't think about it with my son but it may be something the wife and I need to discuss.  I have considered a bike helmet I just don't really see them doing much.  I used to work in construction and the hard hats were pretty much the same if a steel beam fell on me I would still have been squashed.  I guess some of the reasoning is that in the cases it can it would protect you.  Again I will await the face punches for my own decision's but such is life.  We already get looks in the grocery store we tend to let our son in the front basket with more room rather then in the seat with the belt attached.  If he mis-behaves we put him in the seat with the seat belt.  I like that you added it was a personal choice.  Many don't feel that way.



TrMama

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #21 on: August 01, 2014, 11:58:34 AM »
My kid (now 9.5) has been cycling on some streets with me since he was about 6.

HOWEVER...
1. I hate it/find it very stressful and avoid it a lot.
2. I put him through a course (PedalHeads) first, as he hears better from strangers rules and strategies, and got lots of practice there.
3. I am still pretty Mama Bear where I feel the need, moving into what I consider a protective position between him and the rest of the road, if the cars are being dicks and driving too close to him, pressuring him into moving toward the parked cars, etc.
4. Even when we're single file, some people yell at him or us.
5. He is still a bit out to lunch at points, and I feel it's necessary to stay quite on top of him at critical points.
6. I absolutely don't put him on the major urban streets, like Kingsway, ever.

This is pretty similar to my experience as well. My oldest is 7 and she's been on the road several times. We live in a subdivision built on the side of a mountain and in order to get anywhere we have to travel down a busy 4 lane road. To get to the really useful spots we have to continue down this road, over an overpass and down either busy 4 lane or 2 lane roads. Most of these roads have bike lanes and drivers here are used to cyclists, but it still give me gray hairs.

If you're going to do it:

1. Start with the oldest and leave the younger two in the trailer. Once he/she is competent, then try allowing the middle child onto the road. This will make things less stressful on you.

2. Have the child ride in front of you so you can yell directions at them "Stop at the stop ahead. Now go. Stay in the bike lane. Now move into the middle of the lane. etc."

3. I ride behind and just to the left of my daughter. I feel like I'm shielding her from the traffic. It really, really pisses off the drivers because it puts me just to the left of the bike lane and in the traffic lane.

4. I think our Trail-a-bike had been a very useful teaching tool for the kids. When I tow one of them, they are in charge of hand signals (at my direction). They get a lot of practice at this, plus they get a sense of where and how to bike in traffic.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2014, 12:01:32 PM by TrMama »

birder

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #22 on: August 01, 2014, 12:36:37 PM »
I grew up with a serious cyclist for a Dad, who got me into cycling racing when I was 11 (I grew up riding my bike around the neighborhood, but not on busy streets). We had a tandem bike, which was actually awesome for teaching me the rules of the road without risking me doing stupid things. Logging many hours in traffic on the back of the tandem taught me a LOT about how to safely ride in traffic. Sure, there were times I'd zone out and not pay attention to traffic while on the back of the tandem, because I could, but we spent enough time on that bike together that I couldn't ignore how Dad responded to traffic the whole time. When I was 12 Dad started taking me out on my own bike on roads with heavy traffic, but we kept up the tandem riding, too. I think much younger than 11 or so, kids generally just aren't focused enough to pay attention to traffic each and every second of a bike ride.

MayDay

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #23 on: August 01, 2014, 12:52:10 PM »
My oldest will be 7 next month. We practice riding in the street on quiet residential streets so he gets used to watching for traffic, parked cars, stop signs, etc. We practice following my directions, mostly, lol.

We have trail a bikes for both kids that we use for longer rides. We work on hand signaling on the trail a bike, as he isn't skilled enough to ride one handed on his own bike.

Hannah

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #24 on: August 01, 2014, 01:28:54 PM »
We're thinking of getting a trail gator.  So our bike becomes sorta a double using theirs.  I've also seen trail a bikes.

Trail a bikes don't teach them anything.

I guess its the difference between if you are trying to bike commute efficiently vs if you are trying teach your kids safety.

usmarine1975

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #25 on: August 01, 2014, 01:36:10 PM »
I enclosed a picture of my bike and Trailer that I will be using.  Interestingly enough many say not to use a Huffy.  I got a comment riding mine from a kid that I was riding a Huffy.  For me it was a free bike.  I have only pumped the tires up and lubed the chain.  I am planning to take it to the local non-profit bike shop and work on the back tire as it doesn't seem to hold enough pressure.  I have another bike that I found on my lots that I might borrow the tires from if I can.  I want it to be road usable but also we don't have the cleanest or straightest roads so it needs to be able to handle those as well.  I have a 3rd bike that a neighbor threw away that I might see if I can get fixed up as well.  Gonna depend on the non-profit bike shop to help me make those decisions. 

I haven't had any issues with the Huffy so far granted I haven't been riding long and that may change as time goes on but for me it's a good start. 

With the trailer I am going to look for a harness of sorts to attach to it.  We would put a blanket or such in the bottom to pad it.  I will also clean it whenever I use it for utility and it gets dirty.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #26 on: October 15, 2014, 01:43:12 PM »
Successfully got my 7 and 8 year olds to ride on a couple arterials with painted bike lanes, which simplifies a few of our routes greatly. It also avoids the danger of crossing sidewalks when cars pull way through the crosswalk to turn. We had a few very close calls last week.

My next step is going to be getting them comfortable with one other street that doesn't have bike lanes but has a good-sized shoulder.

TrMama

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #27 on: October 15, 2014, 05:12:56 PM »
Go Goblins!

I'm also becoming more confident, and less stressed, with my 8yo riding in the bike lane. I'm seriously considering adding a big tall safety flag to the back of her bike to make her more obvious to cars. She's getting way too heavy for me to pull on the trail-a-bike anymore.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #28 on: October 15, 2014, 05:36:30 PM »
Go Goblins!

I'm also becoming more confident, and less stressed, with my 8yo riding in the bike lane. I'm seriously considering adding a big tall safety flag to the back of her bike to make her more obvious to cars. She's getting way too heavy for me to pull on the trail-a-bike anymore.

Safety flag is a good idea. I'll have to think about picking a couple up. I think I might also start searching for used trail-a-bikes so that my almost 5 year old can still ride instead of being in the trailer.

Zikoris

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #29 on: October 15, 2014, 06:07:49 PM »
I started biking on streets alone when I was about 12, though I lived in a small town so there wasn't really any sort of traffic. I had no trouble adapting to busy city streets as soon as I moved to Vancouver at 18 in any case.

frompa

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #30 on: October 15, 2014, 06:49:39 PM »
Hey Goblinchief - this is a really good question, and one that I lived through with my two kids.  When they were tiny, they rode in the bike seat behind me; when they were four to seven-ish, they road on the back of a tandem (we had a kid-adjuster to make the pedals reachable for their tiny little legs.)  These steps were simple questions of transportation.  But it wasn't until they were on their own bikes that their real education began, and it took YEARS of me riding behind them, more or less protectively, depending on the conditions, always explaining what to watch out for  (how to handle this sort of intersection, "watch that car ahead, he looks like he's going to make a right turn in front of us," "see that grate with the parallel bars open; if you get your tire in there you will go flying off" "watch that loose gravel on the edge of the road there"  etc.etc.)  We rode in all conditions, in all times of year (Pennsylvania hills and winters), short trips so they could learn how to ride to their schools, longer trips to get places we wanted to go, summers we did week-long touring rides just for the fun of it.  It took years, to teach them as well as I could.  And it worked.  They understood that biking safely took a lot of attention.  They saw me take it seriously, and they took it seriously, too.  Sure there were some roads I wouldn't take them on.  But I often took them on roads that were a little beyond my comfort zone (though maybe we'd start on a Sunday morning when things were quieter, til they got the hang of it) and eventually, they became highly skilled riders.  When they reached the age when they could get their drivers' licenses, we offered each of them the same deal.... put off driving for a few years, and we'll buy you a brand new touring bike.  (Both of them took the deal.)   Now that they are adults, living independently in different parts of the country, though both got their drivers' licenses, both rely heavily on bicycles for their transportation, and this is to me the greatest indicator that all those nerve-wracking years of riding behind them and explaining the rules of the road, were worth it.  I encourage you to exercise your best judgment, don't be afraid to push a little past your comfort zone, as long as they can be safe on the roads you're taking them on, and utilize every opportunity to teach them how to ride safely. My one kid was road ready at about six; the other, though able to ride a two wheeler at age three, was far too distractable and too much of a dare devil, so we went slower with that one.  Enjoy the ride!

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #31 on: October 15, 2014, 07:27:16 PM »
Frompa - thanks for sharing!

Biking with them solo is a bit challenging because my oldest is faster than my middle child (partly because of age, partly because her bike is set up a bit "faster"), so I'm constantly urging the middle one to bike a bit faster so I stay within shouting distance of my oldest in front. Biking as a whole family is easier, because typically my wife takes point, the girls go behind her, and I'm in the rear with my youngest in the trailer, so the adults bracket the kids.

Undecided

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #32 on: October 15, 2014, 09:59:29 PM »
We're thinking of getting a trail gator.  So our bike becomes sorta a double using theirs.  I've also seen trail a bikes.

Trail a bikes don't teach them anything.

True, but the parent in front is well positioned for teaching. I rode with my older son on a trail-a-bike starting at 3. We talked a lot about why I was doing whatever I was doing, where I was looking, etc. After he started riding his own bike at 4, we would mix up riding on the trail-a-bike and riding on separate bikes at a close distance and continue to talk about what was going on. At 5 and a few months, he was able to ride in traffic on neighborhood streets and main roads in town.

homehandymum

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Re: Biking families: at what age did you have your kids bike in traffic?
« Reply #33 on: October 16, 2014, 12:49:31 AM »
It's not enshrined in law or anything here, but the police in our area advise parents to wait until the child is 10 until letting them ride on the road on their own.

The thinking is that most kids, even if they know all the rules and are safe in controlled settings, have very poor risk assessment in general, and aren't able to make good split decisions in unexpected situations.  Apparently they all also tend to visually fixate on what's in front of them, and don't use their peripheral vision well.

That's according to my MIL, who was relaying what our nephews were told during their road safety course at their school, run by the local community constable.

I'm not sure about riding accompanied by an adult, though, but I'd want them to be sticking fairly close to the family group, and avoiding busy roads altogether, myself :)

My eldest is 10, and we're not really a biking family, although I am considering letting her ride the few blocks to the local playground when we're all going there as a group. Very small suburban blocks with no traffic.