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Children and Teens Growing Up Bikewise in Monterey County

From La Mesa Village in Monterey to the Monterey Park neighborhood of South Salinas, increasing numbers of children—and teens—are out biking. A dad and daughter bike date, like the family below knows, is just one of many options for sharing time with kids while you help them learn to bike safely.

Dad and daughter no permission needed for bike fashion

ADVISORY: Most people agree that children up to approximately age thirteen cannot really make the necessary decisions about vehicle speed and distance that allow them to bike safely in the street.

That’s why the Carmel mother below chose a neighborhood and time of day with very few to no cars, and why she was hyper vigilant in accompanying her children. Below their short story, see lots more children, teens, and parents out biking Monterey County.

Among other info and resources below, see the safety reminders.

They include reference to the Tips for Bicycling Monterey County section on “Bicycle Riding Skills, Bike Safety, and CA Bicycle Laws–for Children, Teens, and Adults.” That section has lots of info specific to kids, including links to additional resources like “Bicycling on sidewalks: misconceptions and advisories“—an audio and text that address legality and safety of sidewalk riding, plus crosswalk guidelines too.Seaside - young biker with moms in crosswalk

Is it worth the risks to bike?

As Natividad Medical Center employees recognize, biking can be a very health-building part of a child or teen’s life. There are so many benefits to biking, for people of all ages, grandparents too.

This post can help you determine for yourself when, where, and how biking is appropriate to be a part of your child or teen’s life.

Children Bicycling Carmel

The cheeriest of “Good Mornings” was called out by two happy children out biking Carmel early on this June morning.  These little ones were biking under the watchful eyes of their mother.


CA law – DMV VC Section 21212 states that minors are required to wear helmets when biking (and also when skateboarding, skating, or on a nonmotorized scooter).

Mom is teaching her children that—even though they are lots of fun!—bicycles aren’t toys, they are a means of transportation.

Although her children aren’t an age for street riding yet, she found a time of day and location where she could begin teaching them the earliest lessons about navigating streets safely. They were on an early morning ride, while others were likely still lingering over breakfast.
The little ones under her wing were paying very close attention to all of Mom’s instructions.
They cautiously noted each driveway, and they made a full stop at each and every corner. No going further until Mom said, “Okay to cross.”

It was essential that Mom determine whether they were judging the traffic conditions accurately, and whether they could now continue safely through the intersection.

Biking Carmel like these children? Click here for tips. Please be alert for big people on bikes in Carmel, too–like harpsichord maker and technician Carey Beebe, who annually makes his Bach Festival rounds by bicycle (see “Bach by Bike“) and Carmel police officers (see “Constables of the Peace”).Carmel cop - don't run that stop sign

Class I path between Carmel Valley Road and Rio Road

includes a good picnic spot, as well as a place to lock up your bikes to visit a nearby HER Helmet Thursdays spot, or to do shopping or other errands. Put your bikes on your vehicle rack or an MST bus, then bike-and-ride to this short Class I path where young ones can practice their bike skills.

Mouth of Carmel Vly Class I path, with hillls beyondDSC00138

South Bank Trail, Carmel Valley

Have you been to the Class I bike path in Carmel Valley where little ones can safely practice their skills? It’s a great place to safely “herd” even the youngest children as they bike along the path. Visit the Big Sur Land Trust website to learn about the 1.5 mile South Bank Trail along the Carmel River.South Bank Trail Project - rack - easy for kidsSouth Bank Trail Project bike rack and sign

See children biking in Castroville, Castroville Ready to Go - 5 Feb 2012 006Greenfield, Cesar Chavez Greenfield student fitted with helmet 2012and SeasideBikes - RAIN - Boys & Girls Club Seaside - 2 - DSC00156—and get tips for those communities—in those sections of this website.

HER Helmet Thursdays spots are in 19 Monterey County cities and unincorporated communities/census-designated places, including the following. Click the following linked names for tips specific to those communities and their vicinity. Big Sur, Carmel and Carmel Valley, Castroville, Corral de Tierra, Gonzales, Greenfield, King City, Marina, Monterey, Moss Landing, Pacific Grove, Pajaro, Prunedale, Salinas, San Ardo, Sand City, Seaside, and Soledad. 

Personal and planetary health

Such a joy to see children and teens learning such an important life skill–and one benefiting both their personal health and the health of their home planet. There are so many benefits to biking.
That’s why Bicycling Monterey voluntarily does what we do, since 2009.

Make a contribution.

Ask Mari your questions.

It’s also why…
  • The Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) is starting a new bicycle safety education pilot program “Cycle SAFE.”  It is a two-step program designed to empower members of the community to become better at bicycling and give back by learning to teach others how to ride safely and legally. Step 1 of the program, a basic road skills training, is open to ages 14 and up. Step 2, a certified licensed instructor seminar, is open to ages 18 and up. Learn details here.1st people trained IN Monterey County 001
  • It’s also why TAMC contracted with Ecology Action of Santa Cruz to help get bike skills classes going for fifth graders in some local schools. Learn more. BikeSmart2
  • It’s why TAMC is offering free bike and skateboard racks, bike lockers, and bike maintenance stations in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
  • It’s why the Carmel City Council unanimously supported the County’s plan to put bike lanes on Rio Road.
  • It’s why there is a new Pathway to Health Initiative in the Salinas Valley, which will bring bicycle facility markings in Greenfield, multi-use paths and bicycle lanes in King City, and new bike lanes in Salinas. Click here for details.
  • It’s why the City of Monterey Recreation Department has offered bike maintenance classes to teach ages 8 through adults.
  • And it’s why the City of Monterey applied for, and received, grants that will allow them to do bike education and safety outreach along with making infrastructure improvements. Learn more. 3 teens on fairground rd after school

And those are just a few examples of all that’s happening in Monterey County, all because of the increased recognition of the multiple benefits of bicycling!

See the City of Monterey website to learn about environmental impact of cars, which inspires many people to use bicycling as a frequent transportation choice.

Over 30 studies offer statistics about the benefits of bicycling for children, including impact on sleep, obesity, cardio health, academic performance, and back pain. “Bike to School: Year-round Monterey County school bike activity” includes links to reports on the academic benefits of bicycling. You may also want to consider the Emotional and Community Health Benefits for Youth Cyclists identified by six teenagers in Vancouver, British Columbia:  independence, better parent-child relationships, freedom of choice, confidence, and healthier communities.Chic-style, preteen in Mtry1-1-12KammannSchoolSalinasMay2014 from SCEEF

Bike news for kids and teens

Check Bicycling Monterey’s master calendar for appropriate activities.Master Calendar for Bicycling Monterey County
For more about children biking in Monterey County, see the Children and Teens section of this site, which includes “Bike to School: Year-round Monterey County school bike activity, for elementary, middle, and high school,”SHS stand by JW 8-31-12 IMG_1529Bicycle Culture and Youth,Annabelle helmet facingBiking by the Bay, Cargo Style–for Children Too,” Fam seats and trailer - taken off 1 April 2011 014Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day” (an annual event–backed up with year-round local opportunities),Aaron with new mt bike - jul aug 10 135 and much more!
There are nearly 500 posts and pages of original content on the Bicycling Monterey website. In that you’ll find thousands of photos of children, teens, and their parents, grandparents, or other loved ones biking. Explore! Contact Mari with your questions.

Dad and daughters Wharf Marketplace April 2015Bike to school with grandfatherHelmet - lil one and mom - pal bike fair

Personal safety while biking

For tips on Class I bike paths (apart from motor vehicles), a good place for young or inexperienced riders, see the Where to Bike section of Tips for Bicycling Monterey County. Below you’ll see photos of children taking a Class I path.Family at wharf - trio - cropped taken off 1 April 2011 033

Also in the Tips guide, see “Bicycle Riding Skills, Bike Safety, and CA Bicycle Laws–for Children, Teens, and Adults.” That section addresses “When is a child ready?” and hand signaling, how best to make turns, biking on sidewalks (including local cities’ ordinances), and more.Seaside kids - jpg

To see a Monterey mom out biking with her children, and to watch 20-second and 33-second videos on “Taking the Lane” and “Making a Left Turn,” click here.

Spanish cycling resources

Monterey County’s local bike shops include many Spanish speakers. See our list of local bilingual bike shop professionals.Sports-Ctr-Seaside-Air-for-lil-one CROPPED

In Spanish, and English, “What Every Parent Should Know,” “Fitting a Helmet,” “Bike Safety around Big Trucks and Buses,” K & dad S on Garden Rd bike lane - 036 (2)and other information helpful for teaching children and teens to bike safely can be accessed under the Resources/Los Recursos tab of this site:  “en espanol.” There you’ll also find Safe Routes to School inspiration and more. (There’s also Safe Routes info, in English, in “Bike to School.”)


Want to take children biking but live in a neighborhood without safe routes for children?  Consider a bike-and-ride option to help you reach a Class I or other area suitable for young or inexperienced riders.Bike and ride MST Jazz Line downtown Monterey

Whether you’re a local resident or a visitor, bike-and-ride can make all the difference in getting more bike time into your life, and in a way that best suits the varying stamina levels and schedules of you and your loved ones.

Monterey County bicycling resources

Ever wish you could just try out a trail-a-bike for a little one? You can rent one locally; find such businesses in the bike rentals section.Trail-a-bike Warwick friends

Did you know there are Monterey County high schools with a bicycling team, and a team for high schoolers whose school doesn’t have one? Yup! Salinas High 2 male teamers DSC_0410Learn about these and other countywide cycling resources in the 32-section Monterey County Bicycling Resources. You’ll find some additional bike classes linked there too.

Doubly careful:  Teaching bike skills to his son using a trail-a-bike, and on a Class I bike path.

This dad has it all figured out:  “We can get miles of riding in ultra safely. No way Mom needs to worry!”

Children on a Class I Bike Path

Are your children not yet at an age appropriate to bike in the street? Here are photos of local children on Class I bikeways–no motorized transportation allowed.

Susan Ragsdale-Cronin and daughters, Sydney, Tara and Dharma Maria

The Ragsdale-Cronins, sans father Bill on this day, are pictured above kicking back on the lawn alongside the Class I bike/multi-use path between Wharf I and the Coast Guard Pier in Monterey.  These kids are already quite experienced on the various types of bikeways.  That isn’t surprising, since they have a good role model:  Their mom, Susan, was a 2006 Transportation Excellence honoree of the Transportation Agency of Monterey County.

You’ll also see the Ragsdale-Cronins biking in their Del Rey Oaks neighborhood, to their San Carlos School in Monterey, and elsewhere. Read Susan’s story, “There’s nothing like riding a bike,” in the August 29, 2011 Monterey County Herald.Ragsdale-Cronins at MPC Mktg 006

Below, young friends of the Ragsdale-Cronins learn about the Monterey Bay via personal observation from the bike path.

Children of the Suarez Family

Another Monterey Peninsula mom you’ll see out biking with her children is Mindy Surratt.

Mindy Surratt and son - 12

See more photos and learn about Mindy and her kids’ bike commuting lifestyle in a Bicycling Monterey guest post by Susan Ragsdale-Cronin. Click here.

You’ll see Mindy’s husband, Tim Meehan, biking with—or to pick up—their children too!

Precious Cargo Carrier - Dad and Friend 004

Children biking Salinas

Don’t miss these ultra special dates for people who bike–or roll in a wheelchair or wagon, skateboard, run, and more: Ciclovia Salinas! These are a great opportunity to bike with children, teens, and all ages on car-free streets.

Ciclovia-Salinas-logo2Ciclovia Salinas 25 Oct 2015 miniBurrito bike rides (usually twice a year) and numerous other special events in Salinas are kid-friendly.Burrito Ride 5-19-13 Salinas - here boys at the lead

Monthly Twilight Rides at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca welcome all ages.Donnell Family at Twilight Ride Mar 2012

And what about the rest of the year? Where can children practice bike skills in Salinas, the Monterey County seat (click for general bike Salinas tips)?2 teen boys Alisal at Madeira

Naturally, Salinas city parks are one good option for kids.  Click here for most Salinas neighborhood parks.  Click here for some additional Salinas parks and related facilities.  Among popular parks for bike skills practice is El Dorado Park, 1655 El Dorado, which is in North Salinas and close to Harden Parkway.  There are bike lanes nearby.

“Lots of people don’t even know about the car-free bike path behind Creekbridge shopping, adjacent to Monterey County Vietnam Veterans Memorial. But our parents do. They jog along besides us while we practice our two-wheeler skills!”

A family at Creekbridge

Want some inspiration from Monterey County elementary school educators–and the children they bike with? These educators,  who are well experienced at biking, are teaching children bike safety not just in the classroom and on the playground, but out in the community too! That’s right, hands-on (the-handlebars) instruction to help teach children how to safely navigate their community’s streets by bike.  Click here for a story about Monterey Park Cycling, Salinas.

Below: Monterey Park Cycling – a South Salinas biking club

Photo courtesy of Ron Dillender, former principal of Monterey Park School. When Ron moved to a position as principal at Lincoln Elementary School, which is another a Salinas City Elementary School, he started a cycling club there too. As of the 2015-16 school year, Ron is in a new position with the SCES district, now serving  as a Principal on Special Assignment and Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Have questions about starting a cycling club at your school? Ron is a great resource; contact him at the SCES district office.

Gather round 2012-03-02_16-06-22_6 (2)

Bikeways of Monterey County

The Where to Bike section mentioned above includes a link to the maps section of this website, where you’ll find the Monterey County bike map, CSUMB bike map, and–in Spanish and English–the City of Salinas bike map.Salinas bike map

It’s wonderful to teach children to bike safely in their own neighborhoods, wherever possible.  Beyond that, an 18-mile stretch of Monterey Bay Coastal Trail is terrific for families helping kids develop their bike skill. There’s no running out of new places to bike in Monterey County!

Didn’t know the trail went that far? Come to the annual Intergenerational Ride for Bike Month to ride a stretch of it that many people miss.Monterey Park girls at Intergenerational Ride 2014

Join these joyful little ones on the bikeways.

Happy trails to you….


A short version of this post, “Bicycling Children Growing Up Streetwise,” was first published June 6, 2011. The post was extensively revised and updated on August 30, 2015. As usual, feel free to contact Mari with any questions.

  1. Ellen says:

    I am wondering if I could use one of your photos above for an article I am writing on child safety. I would of course credit your site. Thanks so much!


  2. marilynch says:

    Hi, Ellen. Thank you for your interest. Please contact Mari directly about photo permission requests. Thanks. ^el

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