Ride with your child – Avanti Cycling gives a helping hand

Here at Avanti Cycling we’re passionate about cycling and especially about encouraging more parents to ride with their children on local roads.

It’s often wrongly perceived that riding in traffic is unnecessarily hazardous and even after successfully completing a Level 2 Bikeability course, many parents will stop their children from riding on the road.

We want to change this perception and so we devised a course to help do this. Chris Barltrop explains how this was recently done at Northbourne School, Didcot. “The 3-hour course was run on a Saturday morning with three instructors. Parents were asked to attend with one or two of their own children. A brief introduction to Bikeability was followed by a ‘check your bike mini workshop’ where our instructor explained how parents can check their own and their child’s bicycle before setting out on a journey”.

Chris went on to say: “We then ran a 30-minute playground skills session similar to some of what we do on a Level 1 Bikeability course. This gave our instructors a good idea of the standard of riding whilst at the same time allowed our instructors to pass on some key group-riding skills.”

It was then onto the road session! Each instructor worked with one to three parents and their related children. The aim of this session was to introduce the four Bikeability Level 2 core functions (Observation, Road Positioning, Priorities and Communication) and to put these into a practical riding experience on roads local to Northbourne School.

David Goodworth explains: “Each instructor worked with up to six riders, a mix of adults and their own child. Initially the instructor controlled all six riders taking them through a number of road junctions as a single group. The instructor moved around shepherding the group. A child took the lead position followed by their parent, then another child and parent and so on.

“As the riding continued, the lead child changed every few junctions giving each child a chance to lead. We then stopped for a brief chat about road positioning during general riding and at junctions and how the parent should position themselves for maximum effect. We then continued riding with a little separation between each family-pairing and with each parent increasingly taking on the shepherding role allowing the instructor to take more of a back seat. This was repeated throughout the session until towards the end when each parent had by this point taken on the shepherding themselves,” said David.

One parent said: “We really loved the session, it’s really changed what we now do each morning. I’m now so much more confident that I can now ride my child to school every day and then continue riding on to work. Before the session I never had the confidence to ride in traffic. Every parent should try this out.”

Avanti Cycling is now rolling this out to more schools throughout the region.