Cycling can be a great way for children to exercise and get around; parents often worry though, about how safe it is for children to cycle on the road and what the legal issues surrounding child cyclists are. Here we aim to explain some of these issues so that your child can be as safe as possible when cycling.
At what age and ability should children cycle on the road?
Although children can learn to ride a bike at any age, parents should exercise caution before allowing their children to cycle on the road. Although there is no legal minimum age , it will depend on their abilities and confidence. It is recommended that parents cycle with their children until both you and they feel confident enough that they can handle the roads on their own.
The Bikeability scheme is an excellent way for children to learn how to cycle safely and to stay safe on the road. There are various levels available, catering for both complete beginners to cycling and children looking to increase their confidence.
What safety measures should be taken for child cyclists?
It is important that children always wear a cycle helmet when cycling. Although this is not a legal requirement in the UK, wearing a helmet is strongly recommended as it can greatly help to reduce the severity of an injury in the event of an accident.
Elbow and knee pads and bright clothing are also advisable, particularly if your child wants to start cycling on busier roads.
Cycling on the pavement
Cycling on the pavement is currently illegal in UK law. When it comes to child cyclists, however , this is actually something of a grey area. If children are under 10, they are under the age of criminal responsibility, which means that if they are spotted cycling on the pavement by the police they cannot be prosecuted or served with a fixed penalty notice. Children over 10 but under 18 will also be treated differently from adults who cycle on the pavement.
If you are concerned about busy roads, then if possible try to find an alternative route for your child to cycle on, so that they can be safe without having to resort to cycling on the pavement.