There are plenty of ways to have fun together as a family but bike riding has got to be one of the best. If you want to make cycling your family pastime we have everything you need to know about riding with kids and where you can find a family-friendly track near you.
Before you set out:
Before you take the whole family out for a ride ensure that you have familiarised yourself with the track. Take into account the length, the terrain and look for things such as parks, shops or picnic areas that will break up the ride and keep kids interested along the way.
With young children it is best to stick to off-road paths until they are a bit older and have developed road safety skills. However, your kids still need to know that there are rules that must be obeyed on bike paths, including wearing their helmet, using their bell to signal pedestrians and watching out for other, more experienced cyclists.
Plan ahead where you are going to stop for breaks. Whether it is for lunch or for some local sightseeing, get the kids involved in the planning stage and watch their excitement build.
Also be sure to check everyone’s bikes are in working condition before the day, including the air pressure in the tyres and the brakes. This will help avoid any last minute run-arounds. It might be obvious but remember that unless you live right next to a bike path you will have to transport the bikes to the track by car in which case you will need bike racks.
What to wear and bring:
This will depend on the length of the bike ride but there are a few essentials that you should wear and put into your backpack for all cycling occasions.
- Wearing helmets and enclosed shoes
- Hats (for breaks) and sunscreen
- Snacks and water
- Small first aid kit including bandaids, bandages and antibacterial cream for chaffing or minor cuts and grazes.
- Small tool kit
- Extra jackets in case the weather turns cold
During the ride:
Manager of Bicycles Queensland, Ben Wilson, warns that keeping kids safe when cycling is also about keeping them interested.
“Kids get bored and are easily distracted which can be a dangerous combination. Watch out for kids losing interest. Stay next to them and stop for plenty of breaks to keep up their enthusiasm,” he says.
Most off-road bike paths are shared with pedestrians, remember to signal with your bell and make them aware that you are passing. Be on the lookout for other cyclists as well and do your best to help your kids be aware too. Communicate any hazards you see with them and get them to pull over to the side if necessary.
Enjoy your surroundings and have fun.
Where to cycle:
There are plenty of cycling paths around Australia that accommodate young families. If you cycle regularly you will have a good idea of what paths and tracks are available nearby but if you are on holidays or have just decided to start cycling we have compiled a list of some of the best family-friendly tracks around the country for you below.
Bicycle SA recommends these five tracks for families. Don’t be put off by the length of the tracks. You can complete as much or as little as you like and the best part is that these tracks combine South Australia’s picturesque landscape with an abundance of picnic spots, history and a ton of rest-stops to create the perfect family bike ride.
- Clare Valley Riesling Trail & Rattler Trail (35 km off-road)
- River & Coast Ride (30 km loop)
- Beach Cruise (50km loop)
- Coast to Vines Rail Trail (38km Marino-Willunga)
- Encounter Bikeway (30km)
With an abundance of bike tracks near Hobart you will easily find a beautiful spot to take the family for a ride. The best part about cycling in Tasmania is that it is legal for anyone to ride on the footpath (except in those few shopping precincts where signs prohibit it). Riders must still give way to pedestrians and be wary of driveways, but it is easier for less confident riders and young families to get past any difficult points on their trip, and to go against the traffic direction on one-way streets (useful in many Tasmanian towns).
Jeff Dunn from Bicycle Tasmania recommends these great family rides around the Hobart region.
- Pipeline Track, on Mt Wellington (Start from Ferntree)
- Clarence Foreshore Trail (19 km from Geilston Bay to Howrah)
- Lymington Loop, near Cygnet: On-road, a little of it unsealed, but very low traffic and fairly flat. Be sure you stop at the delicious Cygnet bakeries for a snack.
- Tolosa MTB Park Glenorchy: Fun for everyone on mountain bikes and the new criterium track (900m car-free bitumen track) is perfect for playing racer.
- Risdon Brook Dam loop: The car park to Risdon Brook Dam can be reached from Grass Tree Hill Rd near Risdon Vale.
The best family friendly tracks in Victoria are the Rail Trails. These abandoned railways have been transformed into off-road bike paths that are well-maintained and run alongside numerous towns - perfect for breaks and support.
Jarod from Bicycle Victoria recommends these trails for your next family ride.
- Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail
- East Gippsland Rail Trail
- Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail
- Murray Rail Trail
- Bellarine Peninsula Rail Trail
- Mindil Beach to East Point
- Fannie Bay to Nightcliff
- Nightcliff foreshore
- The city’s Esplanade near Bicentennial Park.
- Casuarina Coastal Reserve to Nightcliff
Manager of Bicycles Queensland, Ben Wilson, recommends that you start your family ride early or late afternoon as the weather heats up quickly in Queensland.
While you can find a family-friendly bikeway along the foreshore of just about every major city in Queensland, here are Ben’s top five.
- Inner City River Bikeway: 5km, 10km or 15 km. Start at Southbank and head to Story Bridge and cross through Riverside.
- Wynnum Foreshore to Redcliff bikeway: Start anywhere
- Redcliff Foreshore to Redcliff Pier
- Kedron Brook Bikeway: Kalinga Park to Mudgee Beach 15kms off-road.
- Boondall bikeway through wetlands 7km loop. Bridges and bird watching near Little Beach.
New South Wales:
- Chittaway Bay to The Entrance: This picturesque ride offers views of Tuggerah Lakes with plenty of wildlife, parks, shopping points, BBQs and picnic areas.
- Liverpool to Parramatta Cycle Rail Trail: Starts on the corner of Scott and Bigge Streets and runs alongside the railway line from Liverpool to Parramatta. The trail is 16.8 kilometres of easy, flat, straight cycleway.
- Sydney Park: This bike track was constructed specifically for the little ones. It resembles a mini-road network with working traffic lights and pedestrian crossings, perfect for teaching them road safety skills.
- Olympic Circuit: Is 7.6km and can be completed in around 50 minutes. There is plenty to see and do along the way as you relive memories from the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
- River Heritage Circuit: Is 12.5km and should take about 70 minutes to complete. It follows the scenic Parramatta River through wetlands and offers optional climbs to vantage points with views of the city and park.
- Parklands Circuit: At 5.5km long this track can be done in 60 minutes and has plenty to offer families. Beginning in Bicentennial Park there is plenty of nature and wildlife, BBQ and picnic facilities and loops for the kids along the way.
For more information on cycling with kids visit the Cycling Promotion Fund.