girl on bicycle country trail ride my bike Queen

Pinky is a Writer, Broadcaster, Triathlete wannabe, Mum of one, Wife, Dog Owner, Committee Meeting attender, fundraiser and collector of things to do. Listen to the Pinky’s Bits Podcast free via iTunes.



With a head full of fresh memories from 2013, there is one that makes me smile and shines brighter than the rest. My daughter learnt to ride a bike! She is 5 and Santa gave her the bike for Christmas 2012. That was a really exciting Christmas- a bike is one of the best presents ever- actually, anything with wheels is a cool present- I don’t want to exclude the scooter!

This year was also my daughter’s first year of Prep. We live in urban Melbourne and the school is 2km from our house. We started a group called the WALKING SCOOTING SCHOOL BUS. Not a new concept but it was nice to start one. We have a group of 4 five-year-old girls who are all friends, as are their parents. They would meet on a corner each morning and scoot to school- escorted by their parents. There were a few stacks had by all as they got the hang of the route and soon they were a gang of girls on scooters- just cruising and FLYING down the BIG hill! The idea is that eventually the parents can share the job of being escorts and only one parent will be required etc.

Later in the year everyone graduated to riding their bikes to school.

They were already familiar with most of the road safety rules from riding their scooters- but there were more things to learn and get the hang of. Speaking for myself as a parent, this is also a time of various emotions for me, like anxiety, worry, impatience, elation and enjoyment. There was also a week of ‘extreme out of breathiness’ when my husband and I wanted to have our hands free- so we ran alongside her- much slower than a bike flying down a hill! Thankfully, it was only for a week and then we felt comfortable with riding alongside her.

Why do I bore you with all the details of getting our kid to ride to school?

Well, I read some stats recently showing that the number of kids on bikes nationally has decreased over the past two years. It’s a concern as obesity in children is rising although bike infrastructure is increasing- read more here.

There has been plenty of talk in recent years about the rise of children getting to school in the family car as opposed to walking. Parents are busy and time poor and as a nation we are moving less. Even with our family living in such close proximity to our school, we think about 50% of kids at our school get there by walking or riding. You’d think it would be more considering kids living in rural parts of Australia have no option but to go in the car or school bus. In 2014 I’d love to encourage more kids and parents to take the bike to school in conjunction with Ride2School.

It was a highlight of my year and sometimes the best 15 minutes of my day to be honest. Riding bikes is fun for people of all ages and these holidays, I’m looking forward to some rides with my daughter just for the fun of it. I also love that she is living such an active life- this will be her version of ‘normal’ once she grows up.

How do your kids get to school? Are there adequate bike paths where you live? Do you think the car is safer? Did anyone get a bike for Christmas?


Zoey Dowling

Written by: operationmove

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  1. We ride and scoot nearly everyday, my two girls love it and there are some great paths in Traralgon. They both are starting new schools this year and we are yet to find out the bike/scooter culture of those schools. We moved house to be walking distance to the CBD and hope to ride, walk and scoot to school everyday if possible. Being active, being aware and creating independence all come from riding to school. I just wish the drivers of cars would be more diligent around young riders.

    • Zoey Dowling

      Hey Dan, That sounds like a plan for 2014! I'm looking forward to hearing more about your school commute on wheels. We haven't had any 'close calls' with cars but we are always reminding the girls to stay a step or two back from the road when waiting to cross etc. Just in case. Please stay in touch and let us know when the 'bike' culture is like there! :)

  2. Zoey Dowling

    I'd love my kids to ride to school. It was something I remember doing as a kid and I wish I could get mine to do the same. Unfortunately we have a major road between our house and the school. The "safe" place to cross isnt really due to being not far from an adjoining intersection where people have a tendency to fly around the cirner just to beat oncoming traffic.

      • Zoey Dowling

        The only lights are 2kms away in either direction. Its just too far extra for them to ride at the moment. Especially as they are still learning how to ride. One with trainer wheels and the other just attempting to ride without them. The main road is dual lanes in both directions with very heavy traffic flow at school drop off/pick up time. I'm hoping that maybe later on in the year they'll be better riders and we can ride to school. Although im not sure how keen they will be riding home as it's mostly uphill

        • Zoey Dowling

          Great Heidi! Sounds like a plan to get them riding to school. They don't need to start in Term 1- if they get out for a ride around home at least once a week during Term 1- they will get strong enough to do it- more time on the bike is what gets you there. I'd love to hear all about their practice and how they progress! The hills will get easier with more practice. When my daughter faced them, we would ride along side her and push her up- easy when they are little, or just walk up them. Like adults, just start riding up them and see how far you get and try to get further next time-also- allow yourself whatever time it takes for them to walk and ride the route. Stay tuned- 2014 is all about kids on bikes :)

  3. Zoey Dowling

    I wish we could ride or scooter to school but we live too far away. There are plenty of bike paths around where we live which is great and we try and get the kids out on their bikes regularly. I got a baby seat for the back of my bike for Christmas so that will help :)

    • Zoey Dowling

      Ah Rach! The baby bike seat is great! We had one to take our daughter to Kinder when she was little. How did you teach your kids to ride?

      • Zoey Dowling

        It was an interesting process Pinky - I had good intentions to teach them to ride early and I bought them bikes when they were 5 & 3 after a family holiday where there were lots of cousins all riding bikes and they had their first go with training wheels on. But then they seemed to lose interest fast especially as where we lived at the time was not somewhere you could just jump on your bike and ride. I tried to encourage them but if they aren't interested what can you do?! The bikes sat unused for the most part of the next year until we moved somewhere on a really quiet street where they could jump on their bikes and there were a few other kids riding around as well. Once they were interested it only took a day for the older one to go from training wheels to riding without them. He didn't need much help at all. I think because he was still on a small bike he could easily put his feet on the ground if he needed too which gave him confidence. The younger one took a bit longer to get rid of the training wheels ... I think because he rode with them for so long he started to rely on them. Then just one day he decided it was time to get rid of the training wheels and after a bit of the old run along beside him he was off and riding.

        • Zoey Dowling

          Sounds like your good intentions paid off Rach! That's great! My daughter is a good one for being happy to play in her room even after I ask her to come for a bike ride- but once we go she's loving it. Getting out of the house can be all it takes. I think riding to school gives her the reason to do it during the week. Are there any other places near where you live that you could take the bike instead of drive? Say to the park for a play or to a corner shop for bread? i'm looking at starting up weekend rides for kids this year in our local areas- would you be interested in starting one?

  4. Enjoyed reading this and I am so glad you are advocating the ride to school! My girls are now too old one will head to uni this year and the other nearly there.. Wish I had spent more time on the two wheelers with my babies and cultivated the same love of the two wheeler in them.. I now have regret but I hope there are others reading this that take a plunge and start a little group like you did! great idea!

    • Zoey Dowling

      Thanks Flash- we have grand plans! Do you ride? If you were interested, we are looking for other volunteers to lead weekend bike rides with kids and families. Never too late to inspire other kids to get on their bike :)

      • I thought I had replied to you Pinky - think the internet ate it! I am a runner but thinking of getting on my bike - will report back!

        • Zoey Dowling

          Enough thinking time Flash- out you go on that bike again! Haha. Please do report back! Legend :)

  5. My son loves riding his bike to school. Problem is I can never be sure he will go in. He'd much rather spend the day riding! Loves his bike(s) too much (if that's possible)

    • Zoey Dowling

      How do I say- awesome Glenn! What year is your son at school? Do you go riding with him and how did he learn? Love it.