Learning to ride a bicycle is an important developmental milestone for children. The physical benefits for fitness and core strength are well known but what is often overlooked is the role of bikes can play in developing risk reward strategies and behaviour.
Mastering the basics of cycling demands balancing the risk of falling off and hurting yourself against the benefit of fun, freedom and independence.
A great way to improve your child's cycling skills is to ride on one of our many lake or pond shared use paths. Here children can learn how to give way to cyclists and pedestrians, warn of their approach using their bell and keep to the left and pass on the right. Children will learn to be observant and considerate on these paths and can eventually gain confidence to ride around the neighbourhood or to school.
Canberra is home to some outstanding cycling opportunities ranging from protected cycle paths to extreme mountain biking. If your child is still new to cycling, here are a few options that may be suitable.
Learn to Ride Centres - features usually include stop signs, roundabouts, give way signs and over-taking lanes
Pump and bike skills (dirt) tracks - features usually include smooth mounds, banked turns, natural elements and jumps or ramps
- Farrer Nature Play and Adventure Trail (Google Maps)
- Tester Park Higgins (Google Maps)
- Yerrabi Pond District Park (Google Maps)
- Taylor Nature Park and Bike Track (Google Maps)
- North Ainslie Primary School Adventure Bike Track (Google Maps)
- Mt Stromlo High School Bike Skills and Pump Track (Google Maps)
- Duffy Primary School Bike Track (Google Maps)
- Red Hill Primary Mountain Bike Trails (Google Maps)
- Caroline Chisholm School Community Bike Track (Google Maps)
Canberra's largest cycling organisation, Pedal Power ACT, provides an excellent resource to identify places to ride as well as a series of bike skills courses and workshops for all ages.
Canberra has some of Australia's best off-road mountain bike trails, many of which are well-suited to families.
When introducing children to off-road cycling, it’s best to choose well maintained paths with little change in elevation or technical elements. These are a great way to take a leisurely spin in the bush.
Search around suburban Canberra and you'll find any number of single dirt tracks that your new cyclist will enjoy, or for something more special try any of the below:
Before hitting the trails, make sure at a minimum you have:
- Suitable helmet
- Eye protection
- Suitable hydration
- Spare tube, pump and tire leavers (optional, but potentially handy!
Be aware that many trails are meant to be ridden in one direction only. They will be signposted, so please obey the signs and give way to faster riders.
Canberra Off-Road Cycling Club lists some great trails throughout the ACT and also offers social riding for kids as well as beginner courses for adults.
RideTECHNICS offers MTB and Cycling Skills Coaching, school holiday programs as well as MTB Party Rides.
Skateboards and Scooters
Nothing is more exciting than whizzing down the driveway on a skateboard or scooter!
They're not only a great mode of transport for kids, but they also keep them entertained and active outdoors. Skateboarding in particular encourages individuality and is a great way to improve overall body balance, posture and flexibility.
If you're looking for ways to entertain your kids there are seven major SKATE PARKS in Canberra suitable for all levels of use, with a further twelve parks offering skate features.
Before they try out a skate park, it's best to teach kids to be sure when it's their turn and that no one is in the way. Collisions can happen if kids are unfamiliar with skatepark etiquette.
If you'd like more information before you venture out with the kids the Canberra Skateboarding Association offers sessions to kids and adults to develop their skateboarding skills