Publication Detail

Children and Cycling: Chapter in "Cycling for Sustainable Cities"



Suggested Citation:
McDonald, Noreen, Eleftheria Kontou, Susan L. Handy (2021) Children and Cycling: Chapter in "Cycling for Sustainable Cities". Cycling for Sustainable Cities (14), 219 - 236

Learning to ride a bicycle is an important milestone for children. The ability to control a bicycle provides evidence of the children's physical and cognitive development. For a child, riding a bicycle brings newfound independence and the ability to travel faster and farther, bringing destinations that previously were far out of reach within grasp. Beyond the excitement and sense of achievement that being able to ride a bike may bring to the child and the family, there are larger societal trends at play. Increasing levels of childhood obesity have been associated with declines in everyday physical activities such as cycling or walking (Sallis et al. 2012). Biking around the neighborhood or to destinations such as school and parks is a healthful activity that is increasingly rare. While no known studies establish a causal link between children's cycling and reduced levels of obesity, Garrard et al. (chapter 3, this volume) and other researchers have shown that being active is good for children's health and that being active as a child may create lifelong habits (Steinbeck 2001). While we know that bicycling is good, it turns out that how much children bicycle varies widely from country to country and, within countries, from family to family. Getting more children on bicycles will require a comprehensive effort to build communities where children can safely ride bikes. This chapter explores the infrastructure, community design, education, and family practices that we know are critical to making children's cycling more common and safer in the future.

Key words: Children, cycling, health, communities