Nine steps to riding a bike without stabilisers from Sustrans

We all remember that exciting moment of learning to ride a bike for the first time. It’s exhilarating and a brilliant bonding moment for you and your child – not to mention a great photo opportunity. But where do you get started with teaching your child to ride a bike without stabilisers?

Thanks to Sustrans here’s a nine-step guide to helping your child ride their bike for the first time – just in time to take part in Ciclovia Belfast on 29th March, 2020:

1. Lower the seat and remove the pedals
Lowering the seat and removing the pedals enables the child to scoot along on the bike with both feet. Use this opportunity to provide instruction on using the brakes.

2. Giant steps
When the child is ready, encourage them forwards for about 10 metres using giant steps.

3. Kangaroo hops
Encourage the child forwards for about 10 metres using the hops.

4. Put one pedal back on
Either left or right, it doesn’t matter. Make sure the child is comfortable on the bike and feels secure. An easy way of doing this is to get them to do a little ‘wiggle’ with the brakes on.

5. One pedal scoot
With one foot on the pedal encourage the child to scoot forwards using the other foot. Make sure they are looking up. Stop after about 10 metres.

6. Both pedals on
Put the other pedal on. Do the ‘wiggle’ (with brakes on) to show that the bike is stable and safe.

7. First go
Hold the child, not the bike. Explain that you are going to hold their back and their shoulder/upper arm. Get the child to put their feet on the pedals and check that they are ready. Encourage them to look up, let go of their brakes and pedal. Walk forwards (still holding on to them) and slowly release your grip. Stop after three to five metres.

8. Second go
Do the ‘wiggle’ (with brakes on). Holding the child as before, get them to put both feet on the pedals. Encourage them to look up. If all clear, count down from three and encourage the child to let go of the brakes and pedal forwards. Let go after a few steps, then step back to exaggerate the distance they have travelled. Shout ‘stop’ after 5 – 10 metres. Now count out the paces so they can see how far they have gone.

9. Third go
This time, reduce contact with the child by gripping their clothes with one hand and holding the bike handlebars with the other. Repeat steps as before, releasing them after only a few steps and letting them ride for as long as they wish.

Sustrans is the charity making it easier for people to walk and cycle. They connect people and places, create liveable neighbourhoods, transform the school run and deliver a happier, healthier commute. Join their journey and visit or for Sustrans cycling activities or enquiries call 028 90434569.

Good luck and we look forward to seeing you and your kids, with or without stabilisers at Ciclovia Belfast, 29th March, 2020. Don’t forget the cycle freeway is fun, free, for everyone of all ages and abilities and opens 0930 – noon.

See you there!

Rachael Harriott

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