High School Girls: 8 Tips to reintroduce your teenaged daughter to the bicycle
By Tara R. McKee
Stick to the stuff you know
If you wanna be cool
Follow one simple rule
Don’t mess with the flow, no no
Stick to the status quo
—from the song “Stick to the Status Quo” from High School Musical
In the Disney movie High School Musical, the main characters learn to break out of set roles, resist peer pressure, try out new talents and hobbies, and end up inspiring others. Great story line!
One sad fact in the USA is that young teen girls stop riding bicycles, even if they enjoyed them as children. Even with teen boys’ low ridership levels, the boys outnumber the girls on bicycle-riding. In Scotland, the percentage of girls ages 9-16 who ride their bikes to school is only 2%. Scotland is now implementing a program to increase those rates. Here in the States, I haven’t been able to find out the exact numbers, but mere observation will tell you it is way too low.
Can we break through the status quo? Can we get cycling to become trendy and cool for high school girls? Why not try it?! With a little help from some teen girls I know well, here are some tips:
- Make sure their bicycle isn’t too small for them. Girls grow fast and a bicycle that fit one year may be too small the next.
- Get them a bike they will actually ride without having to have special clothing. Cruiser bikes are very popular with girls at this age, but find something that your teen girl likes.
- Find them helmets they will actually wear. Youth are far more likely to have some type of bike accident than adults and they should be as safe as possible. Nutcase helmets are more popular among this age group than the regular road helmets.
- Ah, the trend setters! Celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Aniston have been photographed on their bicycles and you can easily find such photos of favorite actresses, singers and models on their bicycles. Your teen girl may care more about this than you do.
- Show them where the safest bike routes and residential street routes they can take on their bicycle. It will be different than the best way by car.
- Have a few Take-Your-Daughter-On-A-Bicycle-Ride days. Go someplace fun together: the local Farmer’s Market, a park or bike trail, or out to a café or bakery for tasty treat. Make it a positive experience. If you can, have their friends come along on their bikes, too!
- This one is from me: encourage them to ride more by not giving them a car ride every time they think they need one. If it is close enough and safe enough that they can ride there on a day with pleasant weather, they really should be persuaded to do so.
- Encourage your children’s school to promote safe riding and to provide safe places for them to lock up their bicycles. Safe Routes to School is a national program that tries to improve safety and encourage more children to safely walk and bicycle to school. If the program hasn’t been implemented in your school, you may want to enlighten your community leaders.