By Larraine Roulston
During these past few months, cycling has become increasingly popular. The adventures are fun, invigorating and inexpensive. What’s more, you can travel a fair distance and feel good about not adding to greenhouse gas emissions.
For parents with youngsters who all ride bicycles around neighbourhoods and beyond, there are a variety of options to make the outings both comfortable and convenient. Investigate cargo bikes designed to carry heavy items. They are built with stronger frames and spokes, and each is equipped with a double kickstand that is ideal when loading small children. Long-tail bicycles have an extending back section that can be set up to hold two bike seats, one in front of the other.
Retrofitting your bike by adding baby seats or a trailer is another option. The front-mounted child seat is situated over the centre of the bike and is suitable for children nine months to three years of age. The back-mounted seat will hold a child comfortably until age five.
Once each bicycle has had the saddle adjusted for individual comfort and the brakes tested, keeping it properly tuned is essential for good performance and safety. In order to prevent head injuries, a helmet is an essential part of your biking equipment. A brightly coloured helmet will help drivers spot you more easily during the daytime. The journal Injury Prevention in 2007 drew the conclusion from a review of studies that helmets provide a 63 to 88 percent reduction in the risk of head and brain injuries. Parents also need to set a good example by wearing their helmets.
To avoid injury to the chest or abdomen from handlebars, be sure to have a thick rubber covering over each end. Visibility, as well, is important for cyclists. Be equipped with a rearview mirror and lights and use reflective armband strips during pre-dawn or night cycling.
Daimeon Shanks, author of ‘Essential Bicycle Maintenance & Repair’ states, “Dealing with a good bike shop is key. Building a relationship with your preferred shop can be mutually beneficial. Bicycle specialists will learn your riding preferences and your bike’s quirks as well as peculiarities. They’ll gain a valuable, loyal customer and you’ll both make new and lasting friendships.”
Bike expert, Alex Fraser, manager of Toronto’s Spokes and Sports, reminds his customers that gearing up for weather is another factor in helping you feel safe —especially if you are riding a great distance. “The helmet will protect your head from sun, rain and of course, a fall. Check out bright reflective jackets and waterproof pants. There are also fun essentials to select that include a bell, lock, water bottle cage and bike bag.”
Although streets are relatively empty during our current lockdown, safety while cycling is still important. When taking distant vacations again in the future, families who bike around their own communities will be at ease renting bikes and checking out interesting cycling trail maps.
~ Larraine writes children’s books that highlight the joy of composting and pollinating with the adventures of Pee Wee at Castle Compost. With illustrations, songs, and poems, the stories unearth the miracles of nature’s cycle of life. Fun and factual for all ages. To order, postage free visit: www.castlecompost.com