Video presented by Daniel Chew, Jurong Christian Church Bike Club Volunteer
Singapore is trending towards a more green and sustainable way of living. Despite the hustle and bustle and city life, transport is one of the priority issues the government has been tackling in order to fight climate change. Transportation has been touted the 3rd largest source of carbon emissions, hence the big push towards alternative and greener means of transport within the city.
There’s no better time than now to kickstart the habit of cycling with your family. Kids are more physically active now than they will be when they get older. Their centre of gravity is lower; plus learning to take a fall and not give up is a good life skill everyone should be trained in, literally and figuratively.
Besides cycling for commuting, it’s a great sport that works major muscle groups without injuring your knee joints. It’s slow enough for you to enjoy the scenery and atmosphere, and fast enough to work up a sweat and bring you places.
Daniel Chew, a volunteer leader at Jurong Christian Church's bicycle club, recommends 2 other sports equipment that will help your child grasp a better concept of the bicycle:
Kids Balance Bike If your child is 2 years old or more, and balance is not their mastery yet, consider a balance bicycle first. Without pedals, a balance bike ensures both feet remain on the floor, for both pushing and braking power. It gets them used to the idea of sitting and using their legs on either side of the bike to move around.
Scooter This non-motorised 2-wheeled machine will train a child in a continuous 1-leg balancing act. This still allows 3-point contact with the ground at all times, with the pedal power of their foot. It makes the transition to cycling more natural.
Kids Bicycle When choosing a bike, have your child actually be present to test it. Stand them next to the bike seat and make sure the seat reaches their hip. This way, when they sit down, their toes and ball of foot should still touch the ground. Also, get the adjustable seat too, so when they grow up, the height can be adjusted to suit them.
When they start out on a bicycle proper, here are some tips to help them be successful:
Install trainer wheels If it didn’t come with training wheels, you may need to install them on the sides of the back wheel. Over time when the child becomes more confident, bend the training wheels upwards slightly so they utilise them less. This lets your child maintain balance over the main 2 wheels for longer durations. Once ready, remove the trainers.
Gear up Your child will fall (less often with the help of training wheels). So a helmet and some padding for the elbows and knees will reduce the chances of scars from contact with rough surfaces. Your kid may cry a bit, but they will realise they can handle more than these few scratches.
Find a safe space to practice To further aid with cycling practice, find an open space with almost no human or vehicle traffic. If the ground is grassy, that will help cushion any falls, and even encourage falling without fear. If your child is manoeuvring tight corners, make sure people are not there to be the receiving end of his wheel and handlebars. Jurong Lake Gardens is a good place for this.
Add fun elements Chalk up the floor with a mini-circuit your child can follow, or add obstacles like bottles they need to weave in and out of, instead of travelling in a straight line. Do a time trial or a race to a finish line. When you play with speed, try the opposite too by going as slowly as possible on a demarcation line, because this tests one’s balance, control and fine motor skills.
David & Goliath Preschool’s affiliated organisation Jurong Christian Church hosts a bicycle clinic every Sunday, 3-4pm, to maintain your bikes for free. It is open to public and Daniel's team will assist with simple repairs, cleaning, and even training wheel installations, so long as you bring the wheels. Feel free to bring your bike down for a checkup.
Meanwhile, you may check out Daniel’s Bicycle Basics course on the church website.