Shift Up Podcast: How can individuals can get children cycling?

This week’s Shift Up Podcast, a segment dedicated to getting children cycling more, is now live at the head of the homepage, and by hitting play below.

The 35th episode invites on Rachel Varn, the founder of Pedal Power Kids. Varn is a long-term cyclist, daughter of a bike shop owner and, most recently, one of Velofix’s mobile bicycle mechanics.

Having felt some of the intimidation often spoken of when women enter bike shops, Varn began to take an interest in the workings of the bike industry and why certain demographics may not be engaging with cycling.

This led to the creation of Pedal Power Kids, a business that teaches children to cycle and one that is said to be making a difference in helping the community become more active.

“I’ve got a real problem with my kids sitting in a car for hours on end to get too and from hockey practice. We hop on the trail and get there in 15 minutes, while in the car it can easily be half an hour. You can get an entire bucket of balls in the back of the cargo bike too,” says Varn, illustrating that the bicycle can often be integrated with the daily routine to get kids used to bikes for transport.

Discussing training, Varn says that trust between child and vehicle is crucial. “Everything I do for young kids starts with a balance method, it’s really all about building trust and confidence; for some it happens fast, for some it needs a different approach.”

So, why is proper cycle training crucial at a young age? It could be that the first experiences are defining for kids, we’re told.

“I keep hearing from parents just how frustrated they are – it’s almost like they felt the need to apologise to me that their kid is not yet riding, but I get it, there’s so many expectations on us as parents,” says Varn, admitting that it can be tough to find time to train kids, who often have other interests to balance.

“I had started to notice a lot of boys jumping on scooters as they hadn’t got to grips with the bike for whatever reason. The amazing part (after training) is now seeing those kids get excited that they can ride to school.”

Interested in methods to get your children cycling more? Find out how Pedal Power Kids is inspiring kids and parents by hitting play above!

This episode is part of the Bridging the Gap Series, as sponsored by Quality Bicycle Products – a business actively trying to bridge cycling’s accessibility gaps.