by Jane Sandwood
Boulder is bursting with great places for kids to ride their bikes; from Valmont Bike Park to Boulder Valley Ranch, there are terrains and views for all ages. But are they getting out there? Data suggests that the number of children aged 6-17 who ride bicycles regularly has dropped by more than a million between 2014-2018, and there’s an accompanying decrease in bike sales. The drop in bike sales could be partly due to the rise in costs due to tariffs, but is it also true that kids aren’t embracing life on two wheels with the same enthusiasm their parents’ generation did? How can they be encouraged back into the saddle?
Get the Kit
First up, for your kids to feel enthusiastic about cycling, they are going to need a few basics: a bike that is the right size for them, a well fitting helmet, a lock and some lights. Buying everything brand new isn’t always possible – one study suggests that it costs an estimated $260K to raise a child in Colorado – which is why Community Cycles sell used bikes which have been carefully refurbished. If your child is a little older, they may also appreciate a copy of the local rules on cycling; for example, Boulder is unusual in allowing cyclists on the sidewalk in certain zone. Knowing the rules will give your kids the confidence to cycle more freely.
With the basics safely covered, you can now get your kids excited with the extras. From bells to baskets, there’s something out there for every budding bike lover. Research has shown that encouraging personalisation is an important part of self-expression for pre-teens, so let your child’s bike become an extension of their personality. For older children or young teens, adding some technology into the mix might help them get enthusiastic about turning off screens and joining family bike rides. Encourage them to learn how to record footage with a GoPro and edit fun videos. To spread the cost of these add-ons, you can set up subscriptions that get all the must-have accessories delivered to your door on a monthly basis. When your kid’s happy that their bike is as cool as they are, you’ll find it much easier to get everyone out on the road.
What kids gain from being free wheelin’
One in four of Colorado’s kids are obese, so finding ways to exercise as a family is a great way to improve their health while still having fun. Spending time in nature also helps to clear the mind, easing stress and anxiety for both you and your child, and providing opportunities for casual chatting which you may not get at home. On top of all that, there’s the confidence and independence kids can gain from becoming happy on two wheels, and learning how to fix and maintain their own bike.
Today’s kids are more hemmed in than ever; with extra-curricular activities, screen time and parental fears it’s no wonder that the freedom and joy of cycling is becoming squashed. You can re-capture the excitement by finding the right equipment at a lower cost and encouraging your kid to customize their bike to suit their personality. Finally, don’t underestimate the appeal of your time and attention; if your kid associates cycling with positive time with Mom or Dad, they’ll be raring to go.