Educating Children Ages 5 to 8
Between the ages of 5 and 8 is the most popular time for kids to learn how to ride a bicycle. Make it the most popular time to learn safe riding skills, too.
Because kids' cognitive abilities and skills necessary to safely handle complex traffic situations are still developing, children ages 5–8 are advised not to bicycle on busy streets or major arterials. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children in this age group stick to cycling on sidewalks only.
Beginner cyclists should only bicycle with adults when learning to ride.
Tools and Skills
Concentrate on teaching the 5–8 year old to develop or continue to develop basic riding skills, like how to brake quickly. Teach the 5–8 year old to look behind herself or himself for approaching traffic, while simultaneously cycling in a straight line.
Teach 5–8's to recognize what can cause a fall and how to control a fall. They should learn how to spot roadway hazards and dodge them.
Teach 5–8's how to ride carefully on sidewalks, wet roads, and trails. Explain the dangers of night riding, such as low visibility and reduced sight distance, and make sure that this age group avoids riding at night.
Teach 5–8 year-olds about sidewalks, neighborhood streets, paths, trails, and what makes a good route. You can have them help you fill out the Bikeability Checklist to evaluate your route. At this age, they should learn what bike lanes and bike routes are.
Teach 5–8's to pay attention to and obey traffic signs, signals, and other markings.
Teach them the importance of cycling with traffic, not against it. Like all cyclists, they should ride on the right side of the road with traffic.
When crossing the street at an intersection or crosswalk, a 5–8 year old bicyclist should dismount and walk the bike, while taking care to watch for vehicles.
Teach 5–8's how bicyclists and drivers communicate and negotiate with one another. Show them how to use standard hand signals, and make eye contact before moving in front of a car. Explain that a cyclist cannot predict what a driver or anyone else in traffic will do. Emphasize the importance of always showing respect for others traveling on the road.
Teach 5–8 year-old cyclists to familiarize themselves with their bicycle and helmet. Demonstrate basic maintenance skills, such as patching tires. Teach them about the brake lights and headlights, how to carry cargo, how to use rain gear, and how to park and lock a bicycle.
Bicycle Safer Journey
Bicycle Safer Journey helps educators, parents and others who care about bicycle safety to get the conversation started with children and youth. Three videos — one for each of three age groups: 5-9, 10-14 and 15-18 — accompanied by a quiz or discussion and an educator's resource library can be used as an introduction to bicycle safety skills or to augment a comprehensive curriculum.
The age-appropriate videos, which are available in English and Spanish, address picking the safest places to bicycle and the importance of being alert.
Choosing the Right Bike and Helmet
- Choosing the Right Size Bicycle for Your Child
- Your Bicycle Helmet: A Correct Fit
- Tips for Getting A Child to Wear a Helmet
For even more comprehensive helmet coverage, visit our Helmets page.
Securing your bicycle-and your stuff
Getting There Youth Guide
A fun activity booklet to help youth between ages 7 and 9 learn important traffic safety tips. Download PDF.