Is the traffic around your place busy? Does the idea of letting your sometimes bad decision maker out onto the road in control of a bike scare you? Are all the roads leading to your kids school jam packed with traffic every morning and afternoon? So why would you want your child to bike on the road by themselves? What are the road rules for children cyclists?
Well if you’re anything like me you just get sick of being in the car. The traffic situation is entirely different to when we were kids and the infrastructure around cycle lanes and pathways is far from ideal but giving your kids the opportunity to be independant of you is a great gift.
The suggested age for kids to ride on the road by themselves is 11 put this is entirely at your descretion. It is dependant on the type of child you have and the skill levels they possess.
The Official NZ Code for Cylists can be found here online and paper copies should be available from your local council. Please read this yourself and read through it with your child.
What are the rules for the under 11’s? On the footpath with wheels 14 inches and under (355 millimetres/35.5 cm/14 inches NZ Cyclist Road Code wheel diameter limit) generally tricycles and small toddler bikes, on the road supervised when their bike is bigger than this (16 inches and above).
Bike Skills your child will need to ride on the road by themselves:
Ask yourself if they are good at making a decision, have they interacted with traffic enough to understand what cars are likely to do on a road? This can involve all sorts of things from crossing a road, to realising how fast a car moves, to having knowledge of intersections/roundabouts.
Can your child take one hand off the handlebars safely so that they can use hand signals – do they know what the hand signals would be?
Could they look over their shoulder for traffic without weaving all over the road?
Tips for beginning:
- design a route that is the “safest”, taking advantage of cycle pathways and minimising interaction with traffic. Get help from the Active Transport toolkit app.
- practice in quiet times before launching them out into peak hour traffic
- increase their confidence and skills on a bike by making it an important part of your family lifestyle from an early age/from now!
- make sure their equipment works! The goRide Essential pre-ride bike safety check looks over the minimum in 30 seconds and should be done before every ride (think brakes, levers and helmet)
- make sure they are visible – think lights, reflectors, bright jackets, bright school bags
- encourage your school to have cycle skills training sessions with qualified instructors
- read the NZ road code for cyclists together and get into conversations about the road and traffic. They need to understand NZ road rules and you want them to be an environmentally aware cyclist who is engaged in and scanning the environment (that is concentrating on the task at hand) for the entire commute.
The goRide way:
Planning and preparation, yes our P & P’s yet again. We talk a lot about this but your child needs to get safe, get ready and get better if you are hoping that at intermediate age they will bike by themselves to school. Check out our related stories and resources for information that will help you. Good luck and remember this is a great gift you are giving them.
Thanks for reading. Used together our stories and resources support you to achieve and develop as a rider.
Related goRide Resources
goRide is a shared journey, so we would like you to assist in guiding it along the way. Contact goRide. Your thoughts, comments or feedback is welcome. Thank you for being a part of the goRide way.