The Family that Rides Together….

gets to leave the car at home once in a while.

Last weekend, the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition put on a Family Bike Skills workshop, so that parents could learn the safest ways to cycle with their kids. Three families took advantage of the offering, gaining practical advice and valuable experience. The course began with a classroom session designed to teach everyone what they need to know, while keeping it fun so the kids didn’t get bored.

family bike skills group shot
Kids and adults alike found the workshop to be fun and informative. photo: Chris Keam

That was followed by some on-street exercises, to put theory into practice. Kyle Pearce and his son Julian took the course together.

“(He) was ready and frustrated that his parents won’t let him go on the street without him knowing how to shoulder check and signal and all that stuff,” says Kyle. “He’s been practicing and he’s very good at stopping and starting, but it was just getting to that next level, of awareness, signalling, and putting it altogether so he could be a safe rider and do all the things that ‘big kids’ do.”

Have bicycle, will travel. Julian Pearce's bike handling skills are now complemented by an understanding of safe cycling principles. Photo: Chris Keam

“My favourite part was when we got to ride on the street,” says Julian. “It was my first time and it was exciting.”

Michelle Kuo and her 10 year old son Ian Ching recently moved to Vancouver from Hong Kong. Both of them want to use their bikes to get around the city. Michele thinks Ian may need a bit more practice before he’s ready to take on his ambition of riding to school, but she appreciates the foundation the family bike skills course has offered to her son.

“I don’t think he’s quite ready to ride by himself,” say Michelle. “He’s a bit impulsive still, but once we practice more together I think I will have the peace of mind to let him go (on his own).”

Ian Ching's enthusiasm for cycling was evident. This kid is going to love the North Shore trails! photo:Chris Keam

Ian is looking forward to the time savings riding with his Mom will offer.

“We can walk to the library, but it’s a bit far. Riding our bikes is going to be faster.”

Sophie Davidson pretty much grew up on a bike. With parents actively involved in the local cycling community, getting places by bike has always been a part of their life. But her parents Gavin and Liz admit some of their own bad habits were creeping into Sophie’s riding style as she transitioned from riding with her parents on a tandem bike, to riding her own bike for trips around town.

Sophie and Gavin Davidson take cycling safety much more seriously than having their picture taken. Photo: Chris Keam

“I think they learned a lot,” says Sophie with a laugh. “And, there’s some stuff I hadn’t known before, so it was good to learn about keeping some space between me and the curb. I think now I will be more confident riding in traffic.”

Kyle Pearce had nothing but praise for instructors Mary Sherlock and Lorraine Smith.

“They were very knowledgeable about the subject, but what I really loved was they were calm, cool and collected. I had my own anxieties, but they were so patient with both the kids and the adults. I think everybody came away with increased confidence and a really positive feeling from the experience.”

Mary Sherlock is a Can-Bike accredited bike skills instructor. Photo: Chris Keam

The next Family Bike Skills course takes place Saturday, October 2 – 9am-1:30pm at the Local Ride Bike Shop in Maple Ridge (7-22214 Dewdney Trunk Rd). Children must be 6+ and able to ride a bike – specifically, they must have the ability to start and come to a full stop on their own,  ride in a mostly straight line, and take instruction from the instructor and their parent. Check out the Kids Learn to Ride course if they are not yet at this level. Everyone who attends should have a working bike and a helmet. Contact the VACC if you don’t have a bike to see if they can arrange a loaner bike for you.

The cost for VACC members is $40. Non-Members (includes adult 1-year membership with the VACC): $50
Private Course Bookings (minimum 5 participants) receive a 10% discount.

To register for a course please call the VACC office at 604-878-8222. For more information on this program or the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition’s other programs and courses, please visit their website at: http://www.vacc.bc.ca/

2 Comments

  1. Gavin Davidson | |

    When I was 4 I walked to and from play school and to visit friends who lived 4 blocks away. When I was 5 I learned to ride a bike and I began to roam even further. We had super fun exploring the neighbourhood and we had a degree of independence. Today families are more cautious about allowing their kids to travel on their own. My hope is that after taking this course, parents will see that their kids can behave responsibly in traffic and will feel more at ease allowing them to travel independently. With that in mind, I think that the course should also emphasize navigational skills – which are sorely lacking amongst most kids who rely entirely on their parents to lead the way.

  2. Sophie | |

    I really loved that course we had a lot of laughs and a lot of fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I also hope that one day everybody will see how fun cycling is and how convenient it is and take it up as an everyday thing to do.
    BIKES ARE AWSOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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