Hispanic Family On Cycle Ride In Countryside

Start Cycling Together: Bike Safety for Families

Cassie Cubilla,
Health Educator at the Poe Center

As autumn approaches and the days cool down, many families find themselves looking for outside activities to do together. Biking is a popular form of exercise that all ages and many abilities can enjoy. Before heading out for a family ride, be sure to consider these tips before hitting the road together.

Choosing the Right Bike

There are so many options of bikes for all ages, sizes, and skill levels. Pete Donahue, owner of Torrenti Cycles in Fuquay-Varina, shared several different factors to consider when purchasing a bike for the first time:

  • Size: Cleary Bikes is a company that specializes in children’s bikes and provides a size guide based on

Happy father teaching his little daughter to ride a bicycle. Child learning to ride a bike. Family activities at summer.

inseam length. Pete emphasized that in order to enjoy and effectively ride a bike, the bike must fit the rider. Here is a guide that is specific to Cleary Bikes

  • Breaking mechanism: Many adult bikes have flat-bar brakes that require larger hands and hand-strength to stop the bike. For children learning to ride, bikes should have “coaster brakes,” which stop the bike by pedaling backwards. With correct sizing, the child should also be able to put their feet down on the ground to stop. Be sure to practice using the brakes at home before heading out.
  • Training wheels and glide bikes: Many older cyclists first learned to ride bikes with training wheels. With training wheels, riders learn how to pedal without worrying about balance. Another option that Pete highlighted are glide bikes: bikes with no pedals. These bikes are similar to scooters: the rider is able to put both feet on the ground to propel and stop the bike. This special bike helps kids learn how to balance on a bike while maintaining low speed.
  • Find a bike: Local bike shops, bicycling co-ops, and nonprofits can help locate a low-cost bike or rent a bike. Raleigh Community Kickstand, a local nonprofit, has compiled a list of resources to help find, maintain, and repair bicycles and learn more about safe cycling. Bikes can even be brought on public buses – learn how here

Proper Bike Helmet Fitting

Everyone must wear a helmet while riding a bike. Different sized heads need different sized helmets, so be sure to check that the helmet fits each head properly. ItCouldBeMe provides a guide on how to use the “2,2,2 rule” to ensure the helmet properly protects the head:

  • Place the helmet on the head and make sure the front of the helmet isn’t tilted back.
  • Only two fingers should fit between the eyebrows and the bottom of the helmet.
  • The side straps should form a v-shape just below the ears.
  • Adjust the chin strap so two fingers can slide between the chin and the strap.
  • Helmet should fit snugly but the wearer should still be able to open their mouth wide enough to sing and say hello.

On their website, ItCouldBeMe has several videos with visual instructions and guides to help cyclists make sure their helmet fits.

Opt for Greenways Instead of Roads with Heavy Traffic

North Carolina is home to over 100 miles of public trails that are used for walking, running, and biking. Many trails on the Capital Area Greenway in Raleigh, NC, are paved and nestled in recreational areas with beautiful nature views.

Some popular trails include:

  • Neuse River Greenway Trail stretches for 27.5 miles. With multiple parking areas along the trail, routes can be adjusted to fit specific needs.
  • Lake Johnson is great when starting to bike due to the trails being 1 to 3 miles long. With paved trails on the Walnut Creek Greenway trail, bikers can park at designated parking lots off of Avent Ferry and Lake Dam Road.
  • The North Carolina Art Museum is connected to the Capital Area Greenway and offers outdoor art installations in their park. Enjoy either the greenway trail or blue loop, both paved trails for the family to enjoy. 

An outdoor bridge on a greenway.

Before heading out, brush up on North Carolina bicycling laws and double-check the rules of the trail. Some trails only allow walking or running and may have detours or closures. Stay updated by checking out the Raleigh NC Trails website.

Cycling is a great way to get outside and exercise in the beautiful outdoors. By using these tips, prepare every member of the family for a safe and enjoyable outing. Let’s get cycling!

Featured Program: 

Street Safe

Poe Center’s Street Safe program is a collaboration with NC Safe Routes to School and provides safety information for walking, biking and riding as a passenger in a car. This program can be customized/adjusted to ensure age/grade level appropriate content/activities for various groups.


Program Participants: Grades K – 5th

Program Length: Three 15-minute sessions or one 45-minute session

Plan a Program Today
Hands holding handlebar of a bicycle with green meadow on background. View from bikers eyes.

Featured Poe Event:

2023 PoeFest

You are invited to our FREE community festival to celebrate healthy choices! Please join us for fun, food, prizes, special guests, interactive theaters and great local entertainment.

Saturday, October 21, 2023