Please support our volunteers out on the National Cycle Network this Christmas Donate now

The benefits of cycling for children and families

Three children on bikes with muddy faces

Kids will love the messy adventures they can have on a bike.

Little girl on a tag along bike

When they're still little you can use a 'tag-along' bike like this one.

Family on bikes

You can enjoy some great days out with your kids by bike.

Boy on a bike

Cycling can improve your child's confidence and independence.

Family cycling in the city

Cycling days out are a fun way to spend time with your kids.

Little boy on bike

Even small children can get involved with stabilisers, a tricycle or a seat on your bike.

Children love cycling - it's fast and fun, and gives them freedom and independence to get around. And you don’t need to wait until your kids are old enough to ride themselves to start enjoying the benefits of cycling as a family.

Whether you were a keen cyclist before you had children, or you've just started admiring your neighbour's new road bike, you may assume your cycling days are over now you have a young family in tow. Wrong! Having very young children is no barrier to cycling, and in fact this can be one of the best times to cycle.

Why cycle with babies and toddlers?

The huge range of bike seats, trailers and children's bicycles means it's easier than ever to cycle with young children. If you’re using a bike seat, your baby can cycle with you from around 12 months - younger if you have a specialist 'freight' bike or a trailer. Then, as they grow older you can progress to using a 'tag-along' bike, or buy them their own tricycle or bike with stabilisers.

Here's why it’s good to start young:

  • improve your fitness
  • boost your positive mental attitude, and your toddler’s - cycling can help to relieve stress
  • interaction improves your bond with your toddler
  • travel around town for free
  • introduce a healthy activity to your children while they are young
  • do something together in the fresh air as a family that's free and fun

Getting your kids pedaling

Cycling is brilliant for your kids - it helps them get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day, which one third of children don't currently achieve. And, once you've invested in bikes and some basic kit, it costs very little but provides so many benefits:

  • many teachers report that kids who walk and cycle to school are more alert and ready to learn than those who arrive by car
  • it's fantastic fun and, for many kids, can feel much more exciting than travelling by car
  • cycling can help kids get to know their local area and feel part of it
  • good travel habits learned young will last a lifetime
  • cyclists breathe in less pollution from traffic than car drivers

Health benefits for you

Jump on a bike and cycle with your kids and you could see the kind of health benefits gym members dream of:

  • cycling raises your metabolic rate, helping you to keep the weight off
  • regular cyclists are as fit as an average person 10 years younger
  • cycling firms the thighs and bottom, and can even help tone the tummy muscles

And don’t stop at your immediate family - cycling spans the generations. It can be enjoyed by people of all ages, so grandparents can get involved too. It's easier to learn to cycle when you're young and it's a life skill that your kids will have forever.

Read more advice about cycling with your family.

Find out how you can get a Sustrans Schools Officer to work with your school.