Ride Boldly!

Bikes, bicycling, and road safety.

Training Wheels

A lot of bike advocate types and purists oppose training wheels for kids. Per those individuals, they let kids go too fast, too soon. They discourage learning “proper” steering and “proper” braking. They advocate balance bikes, with the solid braking power of the feet, transitioning to a bike without training wheels and figuring out the gross-motor of pedaling once balance has been learned.

These people also oppose tricycles for similar reasons.

I’m some sort of outlier in that I don’t care that much. And there are several reasons for this.

  • My kid went to his first big bike event when he was less than a month old. He started attending track cycling events when he was a month old, and also got his diaper changed near a corner of a metro criterium at similar age. He went to every committee meeting for the 2009 National Rally of Bicyclists. You cannot put one over on him: Bikes have pedals.
  • He tried a balance bike and basically declared it lame.
  • All his little friends have bikes with training wheels.

There are things you argue with a 4-year-old. This is not worthwhile. For cryin’ out loud, the entire Traffic Skills 101 course from the League of American Bicyclists assumes most adults need to relearn everything they know. Kids can learn about braking better and steering better as they disengage from the training wheels. But that really matters is that your kid is excited about the bike.

And mine is. He got it Sunday. Coming home from preschool yesterday, he declared he wanted to go home and ride his bike. This morning, he chose his “bike jersey” to wear so he could ride his bike when we got home. He also demanded I find a bottle cage for his bike so he can put his water bottle on it.

And that’s what actually matters: That kids are excited about riding and relatively safe. And for all the “kids take more tumbles on training wheels!” talk… kids take tumbles. That’s what they do. They’ll be fine. Relax. Let them have fun and stop making them a proving ground for bike philosophy.


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Author: julie

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005. She is a past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association. She has 2 children and 4 bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations.

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