Go Ride a Bike: Tips, Gear and Cycling Trails

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While it may be true that you never forget how to ride a bicycle, those first couple tries can be pretty awkward. Getting your little ones on bikes early is a great way to promote alternative forms of transportation, reducing your carbon footprint, and just plain old exercise. Enthusiastic cycling Seattle parents may be discouraged when teaching their little one how to bike ride as it doesn’t always come easy. Don’t give up. Here are some tips from Bike Works, a Seattle non-profit that educates children about bicycling.

  • Remember that everyone learns differently.  Some children learn better from a tricycle to training wheels, others catch on quickly by coasting on a bike without pedals to learn balance.
  • Ride and talk about cycling with your kids.  The more excited you are about it, the more your kids will want to try it out.

Where to Get Rolling:

An empty elementary school parking lot in the summer is the perfect place to practice on their wobbly wheels. When the kiddos are ready for a real ride, check out these family-friendly spots:

Alki Beach Trail: The 5-mile round trip hugs Elliott Bay’s shoreline.

Tip: Avoid the congested commercial, beach area and park closer to the West Seattle Bridge. You can use the more crowded areas as a good turn around and break for fish n’ chips or ice cream.

Seward Park/Lake Washington Boulevard: Every other weekend there’s no car traffic for Bicycle Sundays on this 10-mile route between Mount Baker Park to Seward Park. Check schedule before you go.

Tip: Families with very young children could just circle Seward Park, which features a 2-mile trail and lots of places to stop and play in the water.

Burke-Gilman Trail: The expansive, 28 miles can be intimidating, but the less traveled areas are great for new cyclists.

Tip: Park near Ray’s Boathouse and ride the trail to the Hiram M. Chittenden (Ballard) Locks. This 2-mile round trip is not as popular and there’s ice cream available nearby and of course you can check out the fish as well at the Locks.

Marymoor Park in Redmond: The Sammamish River Trail (which eventually connects with the Burke Gilman) is a great spot for a bike ride. It can be crowded on weekends, but you can also just pedal around the park.

Tip: Park at one of the playgrounds to let them get the wiggles out. There’s also a small Subway outpost, picnic tables and restrooms adjacent to the playground. Adults in need of a bike can register in advance to “borrow a bike” from the park. Friday nights in the summer you can watch bike racing at the park’s velodrome.

Finally, for a great Seattle blog on family biking, get inspired by this self-described “biking-fool-father with too many bikes.” Totcycle not only provides great tips, they also organize fun family rides in the area called Kidical Mass…check the site for more details.

— Sabrina Kang

photo credit: grrsh & Mark Iverson