“My youngest has recently started riding his sister’s bigger bike and commented ‘I’m going sooo fast…. wheeeee!’” Sean Clutterbuck has three children: Flynn is eight years old, Tara is six and Eric the speed demon is four.
“He was only doing about 10-15km/h but he loved it.”
The Clutterbuck kids have been riding with their parents in one form or another since before they could walk; first in a bike trailer, then on a bike seat, and then on their own bikes. All three were riding without training wheels by the age of four.
And unlike most children in Australia, they regularly ride their bikes to school.
Recent reports show Australian school children are not walking or cycling to school as much as they used to. The National Cycling Strategy Implementation Report, Active Healthy Kids Australia Progress Report, and Transport Canberra’s Keep Canberra Moving report all show that Australian children are mostly chauffeured to and from school by car.
Many parents are concerned about potential threats their children could encounter while riding a bike in public. The parental mind is at its most creative when imagining awful things that could happen to their child.
So why would any parent encourage their child to walk or ride a bike to school?
“It was a way of incorporating active travel as part of their lives, and it’s fun,” says Sean, who rides with his young children.
“It is something we can all do together which allows the kids a degree of freedom, plus permits them to go faster, travel further and therefore cover more ground than they would walking. Plus, [they] see and explore in a way not possible from the car.”
For Zoe Bowman, who lives in Canberra’s north, the idea of her children getting themselves to and from school is liberating, for herself and also her children.
Encouraging kids to use active methods of travel is one of the most effective ways to keep them healthy - and incidental exercise, such as riding to school, is an easy and fun way to integrate activity into their everyday lives.
Read on at The RiotACT about how and why parents Zoe Bowman and Melissa McEwan let their children ride to school, and more about the benefits that both parents and kids get from riding.