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Cycling safety for children

It is important to teach children to be safe on the road from a very early age.

Always supervise children on or near roads.

Children under 12 should not cross the road alone.

Cycling is a healthy and active exercise.

Your child can learn good motor skills from using a bike. It can also be an enjoyable activity. You should encourage your child to cycle.

Safety is the most important thing to teach your child when they learn to ride a bike.

Bike safety on the road

To reduce the risks to your child when cycling, make sure:

  • they always wear a helmet that fits
  • they wear reflective or high-visibility clothing
  • the bicycle's brakes, lights, reflectors, tyres and bell are working
  • the bicycle is the right size for them
  • they do not wear clothes that might get caught in the wheels or chain

Make sure your child knows how to cycle properly. They should be aware of the workings of the bike, such as the brakes and the chain.

Children under 12 years should not cycle on their own in or near traffic. It is too dangerous.

They do not have the skills and experience required to be safe in traffic on their own. They must be accompanied by an adult or responsible person.

If you plan to cycle on a public road with children, make sure that they have the skills and confidence to be safe. Teach them the importance of not taking any unnecessary risks.

Safe cycling for children and adults -

Carrying children on your bike

Carrying children on bicycles exposes them to the dangers of the road.

If you are carrying a child on a bicycle trailer or in a child seat, make sure that the child:

  • is wearing a helmet that is the right size and securely fitted
  • can support their head when wearing a helmet
  • is properly strapped in as they can sometimes fall asleep

Bicycle trailers

Some cyclists use bicycle trailers to carry children.

Only use these trailers in protected areas. For example, on greenways and cycle lanes. This will help protect your child as much as possible.

Bicycle trailers are generally low to the ground. In these trailers, your child will be much closer to the ground than you are. HGV and car drivers may not see them behind your bike straight away.

Attach a flag pole to the rear of the trailer, level in height with the rider’s helmet. Display 2 red lights (1 on each side of the trailer), especially when travelling in poor lighting.

Towing a trailer may also impact your control of the bicycle while your child is with you.

Child seats for bikes

If you use a child seat for carrying your child, make sure it is:

  • suitable for your child's weight and height
  • in good condition
  • securely fitted by an expert

Make sure your child always wears a suitable cycling helmet that is the correct size and properly fitted. 

How to choose the right helmet

The helmet should sit level on your child's head, just above their eyebrows, and cover their forehead. The strap dividers should sit just below their ear lobes. The chin strap should be tight enough to only squeeze 2 fingers between their chin and the strap

Make sure that the seat’s restraining straps are in good condition. The seat should have secure foot straps.

Be aware of the risk of your child’s feet getting caught in the wheel spokes. Make sure that clothing such as scarves and shoelaces cannot get caught in the wheels.

Page last reviewed: 27 March 2023
Next review due: 27 March 2026