The Bikebus is aimed at adults who can ride a bike safely and follow the Highway Code.
But it is very important that children have the opportunity to become confident cyclists in the city and there are resources to help.
First of all, just to explain the Bikebus policy for our scheduled rides.
The aim of the ride is to focus on the individuals who come along and help them learn new safe routes, we can’t really do that if they are having to think about how their children are doing. Also we have found that other riders and the bus crew end up paying attention to the children’s safety and progress rather than focusing on the ride. If we have confidence that an individual child has the experience and skills to take part in a Bikebus ride on equal terms with adult riders we would be pleased to welcome them if they came with a guardian or parent. Obviously we need to discuss that with their guardian or parent well beforehand. Send us a message and we can arrange to talk. See below for how we would judge this.
How would we decide if it was OK to include a child in a Bikebus ride?
At the moment we treat anybody under 18 as a child. Obviously many 16-year-olds are very mature and sensible enough to take part as adults but the Bikebus crew members are not qualified to take responsibility for children in this way. You will be aware how delicate this can be and how questions are often asked about the competence and qualifications of people involved with children’s activities.
If a guardian/parent would like to bring a child of secondary school age along on a Bikebus ride we would expect the guardian to be a confident cyclist themselves and also either:
- The child has successfully completed the Bikeability training to Level 2, or
- The child has ridden regularly on public roads with supervision for at least a year
We would also expect a ratio of one child to one guardian
Cycle Training for Children, Families and Adults in Sheffield
One of the best resources for children in Sheffield is the Bikeability training run by the PedalReady organisation. This is aimed at both children and adults, including training on public roads, and many schools in Sheffield offer PedalReady training to their pupils. If your child’s school doesn’t do this at present you might decide to get together with other parents to persuade them to do so. The Bikeability scheme is run to a national standard and is much more focused and professionally run than the old Cycling Proficiency scheme. Trainers must be properly trained and qualified, training is offered in small groups, only 6 children per trainer when on the road, and organisations like PedalReady operate in a very professional and reliable way.
PedalReady also offer training sessions to families so adults and children can learn together, and they provide a range of courses and activities for adults, including complete beginners. The family sessions are a great way for you to think about how you can continue to help your children develop their abilities. Even the most experienced cyclist will see things differently when they have been involved in a session focused on the needs of all cyclists.
What else can I do to help my children?
If you are a cyclist you have probably already taken your children to some of the off-road cycle trails near Sheffield, or on the quiet roads round the Derwent reservoirs. To help them move on to dealing with normal roads you might like to consider some of the Sustrans National Cycle Routes that run over country roads rather than off-road tracks. Two of the Bikebus crew, Chris & Peter, had a great experience a few years ago when they took their 7 and 8-year-old children on a two day ride along Sustrans NCN Route 1 from the Humber Bridge to Lincoln (not too hilly compared to the Peak District). Not only did the children amaze everybody with their stamina, but they had a really rich experience of life on public roads without going near any crowded or difficult situations. You can buy maps and guides to these routes from the Sustrans Shop.
Route 1 is brilliant for family rides, from Humberside, down through Lincolnshire, North Norfolk and Suffolk down to Harwich. Chris and Jamie rode the whole route over several weekends and we remember seeing all the different vegetables and other crops growing in the Lincolnshire fields, meeting a retired racehorse at a campsite by the river Whitham, having tea in a working windmill in Boston, fish & chips on the quay in Wells Next the Sea, and riding the dodgems in Felixstowe. Sustrans provide a guidebook showing the attractions along the way as well as cafes and accommodation.