Off The Leash | Life Love and Hiccups: Off The Leash
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Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Off The Leash

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Brought to you by Nuffnang and Sydney Cycleways 

I’m not one of those helicopter kind of mums when it comes to our boys….

BAHAHAHA who am I kidding? I SO AM one of those helicopter mums and if I could wrap my kids up in a suit made out of extra thick padding and microchip them with a homing teleporter kind of thingamajig then I totally would.

I live in constant fear of something happening to one of my kids… don’t we all?

Even though I know that you can’t live like that… I sort of just do anyway, we probably all do.

If they are not at home and I hear sirens nearby I have to ring them to check that they are ok because what if that siren is for them?

We have had safety talks, stranger danger talks, respect your body talks, water safety talks, friendship talks and we have had the ‘scare the bejeezus’ out of them when it comes to drugs and alcohol talk.

There are certain things I and we (as in them) can have some control over when it comes to protecting them, you know diet, health, making smart choices and all that, but it’s the things we can’t control that scare the crap out of me - like accidents.

We are a bike family… ok wait, no, we don’t get around in leathers on Harleys and stuff. I mean we like to ride our bikes a lot - to the beach, the shops, friend's houses etc and even though the kids wear helmets and carry phones with them etc, I am terrified that when they are out riding on their bikes, they might forget to look, or other people on the road don’t do the right thing by them.

Next week, my youngest starts at a new school, one that is within bike riding distance and ever since the decision about the new school was made, he has been asking if he can ride his bike to his new school with some of the other neighbourhood kids.

WHAT THE?

No. Definitely NOT!

He is my BABY!!!

OK, he is nearly ten… but he will ALWAYS be my baby and as such I need to protect him in every way that is humanly possibly… right?

Despite the fact that every bit of my being was begging me to shout “OH HELL NO”, I actually squeaked out a “yes okay” instead and I have suffered from sweaty palms ever since.

I trust him… kinda.

He knows how to ride safely… sorta.

He is responsible… well kinda sorta.

Bike riding is such a good way for the kids to spend their downtime and it’s an awesome way to get around. Besides, it’s fun - don’t you remember the freedom you felt when you would ride off up the street on your trusty old bike? Just you and the bike and the road to adventure.

Yep, we needed some help to get him ready for this new found independence and me ready for this too for that matter.

Last weekend all five of us headed out to the Sydney Cycle Park at Alexandria for an afternoon of bike safety training and cycling around the city with Rob and Jules as our guides teaching us the dos and the don’ts and all the info we needed to know to keep our boys (and us for that matter) riding safely on the roads and Flynn safely to ride safely to and from school on his bike.

Did you know that anyone older than 12 is not allowed to ride their bike on the footpath unless it is a designated shared pedestrian and bike path?

I sure as hell didn’t and that information alone was enough to send me into hyperventilation city because I actually TELL my kids to ride on the footpath.

You can ride on the footpath if you are accompanying someone under 12 or carrying a child seat, but other than that - nah uh - you need to use separated cycleways and low trafficstreets, obeying the road rules and taking responsibility for your own safety and that of those you are sharing the road with.

HOLY SPITBALLS hold me.

The good news is, if you live in Sydney, our councils are working very hard to protect us bikies and provide as many separated cycleways and shared paths as possible. I’m pretty sure other states are doing the same too.

You can even hop online and download maps that show you the safest routes to take to where you want to go via your trusty pedal powered steed.

After a half hour classroom session learning the rules and then a couple of hours out riding on Sydney City roads practicing drills and the rules - I am breathing a lot easier about the whole riding to school thing.

I’m not quite ready to shut off the chopper engine just yet, but I am getting there and that’s a start.

My fellow Sydneysiders - I seriously encourage you to spend a couple of hours at the Sydney Park Cycling Centre with your family. You can take your own bikes, and for $20 bucks you can do a fourhour course designed to develop the skills and confidence required to be an effective bike rider.

TOTALLY WORTH every cent.

The courses run on weeknights and weekends and as well as parent and child courses and bike maintenance courses there are even ones dedicated to women only and rusty riders too.

I will be breathing a little easier as I send Flynn off on his bike to school knowing he has these news skills and knowledge under his helmet… although I’m not going to promise that I won’t be stalking him from about 50 metres back, you know, just to be sure.

We all have to start somewhere though.

For more information on the courses, cycle safety tips and maps etc, head over to the Sydney Cycleways website here.

Do your kids ride to school too?
At what age did you manage to release the reins?