How To Help Kids Pedal At Any Stage

Katy Lang
Katy Lang Tweet Us @walkarlington@walkarlington June 22, 2020

Katy Lang is the Program Director for Active Transportation. She started living car-free in Arlington in 2010 and is passionate about finding great running routes and safety for people walking and biking.

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Kids of all ages are finding that biking is a great way to burn off extra energy, get outside and stay socially distanced, and tap into a well of confidence. Find inspiration and tips in these great stories from our team.

When faced with challenges, people are resilient and creative. One thing our team has noticed during the stay-at-home order is a surge in biking among families with kids. Here, we share our stories of biking resilience: how kids are learning to bike, using the street space differently, and getting a taste of the freedom that biking can bring, all life long.


More Time to Learn to Ride

“After a few weeks of teleworking and homeschooling, my daughter and I decided that something had to give. I had run out of creative things to do inside, and she was getting restless from her need to be loud and active (she’s four years old). So I finally bought her a bike.

Once the bike was safe to ride, we set out on a midday adventure in our neighborhood, where I taught my daughter the basics: how to balance herself, how to stop the bike, and how to cross the street. From there, she took off and never looked back. Now that she has a bike and I’m working at home, a daily midday bike ride is something that we both look forward to.”

– Chanée Holmes, Marketing Manager for Active Transportation, has a four-year-old daughter.

Know The Right Bike and Helmet Size

It’s important to have the right size bike for your child. Before going bike shopping, check out our size guide to find the right fit.


Finding Confidence as the New Block Captain

“Early in the shutdown period in mid-March, I saw my neighbor leading his 8-yr-old daughter ‘S’ on her bike with the training wheels attached. “She’s ready, you know,” I told him as he walked by, with her out of earshot. “Yeah, but she doesn’t think so,” he sighed. But he agreed he was going to encourage her to remove the training wheels soon. A few days later, I saw the video on Facebook: he took her to a nearby park and in a few minutes, S had overcome her fears and mastered the balance thing.

Now, everyday around 5:00 p.m., S is out riding circles up and down our street, not only with new-found confidence, but leading several younger kids on the block in their enjoyment of our nearly empty street. They will do this for almost an hour, just enough for everyone’s health and sanity. I call her the Block Captain of our Local Biker Gang.”

– Henry Dunbar, Director of Operations for Active Transportation, is a long-time bike guru in his neighborhood.

Choose A Safe Route

These days, many neighborhood streets are quieter. For a kid who has outgrown riding up and down the block, bring them along on one of our recommended low-stress street routes.


Exploring Newfound Freedom

“In the first weeks after school closed, the boys (8 and 11) and I would go for daily bike rides on the trail after lunch. Unfortunately, the boys have different abilities, so it was impossible to stay together. I decided to give my older son more freedom by allowing him to ride ahead by himself. He enthusiastically agreed. He mapped out his route and told me exactly where he planned to go. The rule was that he was to ride to the agreed-upon spot, to not stop or talk to anyone, to text me when he reached his turning around point, and to then ride directly home.

For a couple of days it went well. But on the third day, he told me sheepishly that evening that he had not, in fact, ridden the agreed-upon route. Instead, he took a detour to Weenie Beanie to buy a chili dog, even after eating the quesadillas I’d made for their lunch! I was annoyed that he did not listen, but secretly amused that he’d used his newfound bike freedom to make a visit to the Weenie Beanie.”

– Mary Dallao, Program Manager for WalkArlington, has an eight-year-old and eleven-year-old.

Learn Map Skills

This can be a great time to help kids learn map skills—something that will serve them well in the future no matter how they choose to get around. Our BikeArlington Comfort Level Map is a great tool for finding trails, major Arlington landmarks, and ways to get around comfortably and safely by bike. You can request a hard copy as well.

Join the Fun

Get your kids pedaling with our resources. We’re here for you every step of the way: whether you’re just getting started or looking for tips on how to support their bike journey.

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