Last month, I wrote about a great program from Bike NY that teaches children how to ride a bicycle without training wheels. My 6-year-old left the class riding and has never looked back. I said it was worth driving into the city. Now, you don’t have to leave Baristaville for the class.
Bike&Walk Montclair will be offering a Learn to Ride: Kids bicycle class that uses the same “balance” technique. Dickson Lane, one of the Board members at Bike&Walk Montclair who is responsible for its Smart Bike Education program, told us more about it:
Learning to ride a bike is right above learning to swim as one of the things most people feel is an essential life skill. For parents, it represents a mechanism for their kids to get exercise, get a feeling of independence, and generally provides an opportunity for fun that will last a lifetime. I know when I was a kid, riding my red Western Flyer was one of the most wonderful, joyous experiences, and I rode everywhere. Many parents learned to ride when they were kids, but haven’t ridden in a long time. When they learned, it often took weeks riding with training wheels, and Dad chasing after you to keep from falling over and getting hurt.
The League of American Cyclists has developed a different methodology. We take the pedals off of the bike, lower the seat so the rider can place their feet flat on the ground, and then have them learn to balance by “scooting and coasting.” In most cases, kids are riding comfortably within a few hours (adults can do this too, by the way). It is a fun, almost effortless means of teaching people to ride.
Now, learning to ride a bike is more than just balancing and pedaling. So, Bike&WalkMontclair has taken a progressive approach by presenting modules in 3-hour intervals that move people from first learning to ride, through being able to stop and start safely, and maneuver with confidence in a parking lot, to feeling confident riding on the streets. When the riders are ready to ride on the road, we demonstrate safe riding and signaling techniques as well as means of making the streets safer for everyone.
The first Learn to Ride: Kids class will be this Saturday, July 24. If you haven’t been on a bicycle in some time (like me) and need some lessons, they will also offer a Learn to Ride: Adult class on the same day at 3 pm – 5 pm.
Here’s what you need to know:
- All cyclists must wear a helmet and have a bicycle that fits.
- If you need a bike, come early and Diamond Cycle will help you choose one to purchase. Bikes are also available for rental.
- The cyclist must be able to rest his or her feet flat on the ground while sitting on the bicycle seat.
- Diamond Cycle will insure that your bike is ready to ride with rock hard tires.
Learn to Ride–Kids
Who: Best for children ages 5 and up.
What: This class teaches a safe, easy, effective way to learn to ride. Using this “balance first” method, facilitators help get children rolling while the child does most of the work. Participants learn the basics of balancing, starting, stopping, and steering a bike, as well as proper helmet fit and adjustment. Most kids learn to ride their bike while
taking the class, but even if they don’t, they will leave with an easy, hands-free, crash-free, and low-stress way to learn to ride. Refeshments will be provided.
Where: Parking lot behind Diamond Cycle on Glen Ridge Avenue.
When: Saturday, July 24 from 10 am – 1 pm.
Cost: $25 (check or cash in person. PayPal can process credit cards online). Please make checks payable to Bike&WalkMontclair (a 501-C3 non-profit organization)
Bike&Walk Montclair will be offering various classes for both children and adults in the upcoming months. Get more details here.
Once your little one is riding, participate in SOMbike’s frequent Family Rides at various locations in South Orange and Maplewood.