27 Oct 2020
Cycling can be a great way for children to exercise and get around but parents often worry about how safe it is for children to be out on their bikes on the road and are unsure about the legal issues surrounding child cyclists.
It’s a sad truth but statistically, cyclists are more likely to be harmed than any other road user. Five people die every day on the roads in Great Britain and many more are seriously injured. And following the devastating news last month of a local 16 year-old cyclist who died after colliding with a car on Newport’s Southern Distributor Road, we are keen to do all we can to raise awareness of the importance of road safety, particularly when children are out on their bikes.
We’ve answered some of the most common queries around child cyclists here:
There is no legal minimum age for children to ride a bike on the road as it depends on their abilities and confidence. It is highly recommended, however, that parents cycle with their children until both they and their children feel confident enough that they can handle the roads on their own. Regular practice and formal cycling training will both help them increase their skills and confidence.
Some experts recommend a minimum age of ten years for on-road cycling. Below this age, children are less likely to be able to cope successfully with the joint tasks of managing a bicycle and negotiating traffic situations.
Lots of people don’t realise but cycling on the pavement is currently illegal in the UK. As children under 10 are under the age of criminal responsibility, however, it means that they cannot be prosecuted but an adult accompanying them can be served with a fixed penalty notice.
If you are concerned about your child cycling on busy roads, it is worth trying to find an alternative route so that they can be safe without having to resort to cycling on the pavement.
Many children will have the opportunity to do a cycling training programme in years 5 or 6 that will teach them the understanding and expertise they need to ride their bikes on the road. However, cycling is not currently part of the National Curriculum so not all schools are obliged to offer Bikeability training.
If your child’s school does not offer cycling training, you can arrange it yourself, either on a one-to-one basis or by grouping together with other families. Alternatively, some local councils offer cycle training that is often free of charge.
Before they set off, it is worth travelling the route with them a few times so that they are confident and familiar with where they’ll be going. This will also allow you to get a feel for the density of the traffic and any problems on the route.
Where possible, encourage your child to cycle with a friend or older sibling rather than being on their own.
It’s worth remembering that, even with these precautions, accidents can happen and it’s important for your child to be prepared so they know how to respond in an emergency. Encourage them to:
Following an accident, child cyclists can sometimes sustain serious injuries. Also, bikes and bike equipment are expensive to repair and replace, so if the accident was partly or wholly the fault of another person, your child could be entitled to compensation for their injuries, repair costs or replacement value for their bike.
Individuals under the age of 18 cannot file their own personal injury claim so instead a responsible adult, usually a parent or guardian, can claim on their behalf. To find out if we can help you, get in touch with our expert team today.