Do you have experience leading a group of child cyclists? Were you, for example, a volunteer at a child cycling club? I want to hear from you.
Context: An adult is leading a group of 2-6 children aged 8-12 on a bike ride. They will ride on a path that goes through city streets as well as through cyclist-pedestrian mixed-use paved trails.
What rules should the adult leader observe, and what rules should the adult leader communicate to the children?
This is a separate problem from those leading 13+ year-olds, who may anyway ride alone. It’s also separate from leading 6-7 y-o kids, who may be too absent-minded for riding on city streets (and who may not be ready for real rides anyway). The exact age for independence may be different in different jurisdictions. Here we focus on a group of kids riding 20” and 24” bikes.
I learned (the hard way) that the set of rules should start with the following ones. (I’m listing the first few rules to tell you what I’m looking for—I’m not looking, for example, for “carry inner tubes for every bike travelling along” or ”teach the kids how to shift gears.” I’m looking for safety-critical rules.)
- Even on usually empty side streets, the leader must insist that kids follow and never go ahead of the leader (because we cannot depend on kids observing traffic rules such as yield and stop signs that automobile drivers learn before getting a driving license).
- on long stretches of side roads, the leader should slow down and let the front-most kids pass (breaking the first rule) to make sure every kid remains close to the curb, then accelerate to be at the head of the group before the next intersection.
- At main street crossings, the leader should act like school area crossing guards: stop in the middle of the road; signal to the kids to cycle across; wait until the last kid crosses; then accelerate to be at the front of the group.
- During left-turns on side streets, the leader should again block the road, and also remind the children loudly “stay close to the curb.”
- Optional, but a good idea: do the same during right turns. (Here it would complicate the wording to use inclusive language for an international forum; in this question one drives/cycles on the right side of the road.)
Suppose you’re training child-group volunteer leaders in a cycling group, what would you do to train the adult leaders, in addition to or instead of these five points?
- In the UK children 12-and-under shouldn’t ride on the sidewalk/pavement. They should only ride on the road.
- In Canada it varies by jurisdiction, but the general rule is that it is perfectly legal for children 12 and under to cycle on the sidewalk/pavement. (But it is illegal for adults, even if they're riding with children cycling on the sidewalk/pavement.)
- The US NHSTA has some pretty basic safety advice.