By Jel Kocmaruk
When you were a kid, you and your pals likely spent many lazy summer afternoons biking to the local park or beach or corner store for snacks to fuel your adventures.
Compare this experience to your child’s summer plans and you’ll find something is likely missing: independent mobility (on bike or on foot) is sadly absent in the lives of many Canadian children. These habits are reflected in children's transportation to and from school as well.
A 2016 parent survey showed that only 25 percent of Canadian children now walk or bike to school, while 58 percent are driven. Studies show that this is a 50 percent reduction in independent mobility in just one generation.
With summer break now in full swing, let your children regain the sense of independence they can get from behind the handlebars.
Stronger spatial awareness & connection to community
Many people recognize the importance of investing in urban environments where we can enjoyably share space with others from different walks of life. For children, cycling opens up an entirely new way of relating to their neighbourhood: their natural curiosity and sense of wonder turns towards their streets.
A U.K. report called Backseat Children recognizes that children that walk or cycle to school have wider social networks in addition to stronger spatial awareness, thanks to their experience interacting with their neighbourhood and the people in it on a daily basis. Armed with rich and colourful mental maps, they experience and remember their neighbourhood and the people in it in a different way than they do from the passenger seat.
Better mental health
Parents are searching for ways to alleviate the negative impacts of anxiety, stress, and depression on their children.
Active travel is shown to have a measurable impact on a child’s mental health, including a reduction in the aforementioned conditions. Cycling and walking as a habit (like other forms of physical activity) can also become a positive tool children use throughout their life to manage their mental health.
Want to help your children develop this habit and get in on the fun? Trade in traffic jams for quality time spent with your kids on the bike ride to swimming lessons or the beach. You’ll likely enjoy a positive shared experience that families travelling by car are missing out on.
Better academic performance
And when fall returns consider continuing these active habits during the school year. Although we know children need a break in the middle of day to play and move their bodies during lunchtime, what about before school? Academic success requires concentration, and cycling (or walking) is just the ticket.
A survey of 20,000 Danish schoolchildren in 2012 demonstrated the huge impacts of active travel to school: students showed increased levels of concentration for four hours after their morning travel. Set your children up for an awesome day at school every day by building active travel into your morning routine!
Try cycling with your kids this summer—they’ll thank you for it. And if you’re not sure how to get started consider signing up for a HUB Cycling Family Cycling Course. It’s a great summer activity for the whole family.
- Sunday, July 22 @ South Surrey Recreation Centre, Surrey - REGISTER
- Saturday, July 28 @ Fleetwood Community Centre, Surrey - REGISTER
- Saturday, July 28 @ Maple Ridge Leisure Centre, Maple Ridge - REGISTER
- Sunday, July 29 @ Trout Lake Community Centre, Vancouver - REGISTER
- Sunday, August 12 @ Parkgate Community Centre, North Vancouver - REGISTER
- Saturday, August 18 @ Mundy Park, Coquitlam - REGISTER (program number 626758)
- Sunday, August 19 @ Fraser Heights Recreation Centre, Surrey - REGISTER
- Saturday, August 25 @ Trout Lake Community Centre, Vancouver - REGISTER
- Sunday, August 26 @ South Surrey Recreation Centre, Surrey - REGISTER