Posted by marilynch
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.
Although the primary focus of this post is kids biking Monterey County—and all photos were taken here—the post also includes some tips relevant for those who bike anywhere.
First, some important advisories:
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.
Sidewalk riding may sometimes be a good alternative. However, there are important things to know about sidewalk riding! Hear Mari’s 90-second audio and read about “Bicycling on sidewalks: misconceptions and advisories.” Addressed there are the legality and safety of sidewalk riding, plus crosswalk guidelines too.
Be sure to also visit the Tips for Bicycling Monterey County section on “Bicycle Riding Skills, Bike Safety, and CA Bicycle Laws–for Children, Teens, and Adults.” That section includes such things as “When is a child ready?” along with equipment for use with babies and younger children, tips for teens, and more.
Refer to our high-visibility section too. People who are low on the road (not only children on shorter bicycles, but also adults on recumbents) are very easy to overlook. Hi-vis flags can help make these riders more noticeable to drivers of motor vehicles.
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, including grandparents too!
This post can help you determine for yourself when, where, and how to support your child or teen in making biking part of their life.
Children Bicycling Carmel
The cheeriest of “Good Mornings” was called out by two happy children out biking Carmel early on this morning. These little ones were biking under the watchful eyes of their mother.
Mom chose a neighborhood and time of day with very few to no cars. And she was hyper vigilant in accompanying her children!
Mom is teaching her son and daughter that—even though they are lots of fun!—bicycles aren’t toys, they are a means of transportation.
Bicycle Helmet Fit Guide, in English PROTECT YOUR CHILD’S HEAD (PDF) en español COMO PONERSE EL CASCO PROTEJA LA CABEZA DE SU NIO (PDF)
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).
Although her children aren’t really at an age for street riding yet, this mother found a time of day and location where she could begin teaching them the earliest lessons about navigating streets safely. She chose a morning ride, after the hour most commuting drivers had already headed to work.
The little ones under her wing were paying very close attention to all of Mom’s instructions.
They made a full stop at every driveway and intersection. No going past it 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 past that driveway or intersection.
Where are some off-street places for kids to practice riding skills?
Class I paths are great! Several are shown and discussed in this post. What is a Class I path?
“Class 1 Bikeway (Bike Path): Provides a completely separated right-of-way for the exclusive use of bicyclists and pedestrians.”
Be aware that Class I paths sometimes intersect with streets. That means that if you have children of an age appropriate to bike a bit ahead of you—but who are not yet teens and able to safely cross a street on their own—teach them to stop and wait for you at each of these crossings. Here’s one such example, along the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail where this popular coastal trail parallels Del Monte Avenue and intersects Casa Verde in the City of Monterey.
Okay, on to examples of Class I paths. Here are two in the Carmel vicinity…
Class I path between Carmel Valley Road and Rio Road
Put your bikes on an MST bus, a personal vehicle rack, or another transportation helper (e.g., a hotel shuttle), then bike-and-ride to this quarter-mile Class I path.
Are you shopping, dining, or doing other errands in the Barnyard, Carmel Rancho, or Crossroads shopping centers? Give the kids a break! Let’s move! This short path has a good picnic spot alongside, as well as a place to lock up your bikes while you walk in the vicinity. There are HER Helmet Thursdays spots nearby too.
South Bank Trail, Carmel Valley
Have you been to the Class I bike path in Carmel Valley? Fencing on both sides make it a great place to safely “herd” even the youngest children as they bike this path. Visit the Big Sur Land Trust website to learn how this 1.5 mile South Bank Trail along the Carmel River came to be.
Why bike with children and teens?
It’s 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!
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 some teenagers in Vancouver, British Columbia: independence, better parent-child relationships, freedom of choice, confidence, and healthier communities.
These are among the reasons that Bicycling Monterey voluntarily does what we do, since 2009.
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.
- It’s 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.
- 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.
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!
The environmental impact of cars inspires many people to use bicycling as a transportation choice. See Tips for Bicycling Monterey County section 20. Bicycling and Ecotourism / Good Earthkeeping Right at Home for related info.
Bike activities and events for children and teens
Check Bicycling Monterey’s master calendar for appropriate activities.
Many activities you may think of as being for adults actually welcome families with kids of all ages, such as…
Monthly Twilight Rides at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
And the world-renowned annual event at Laguna Seca, Sea Otter Classic, a Celebration of Cycling for all ages. In 2015, this event marks its 26th year, yet many people still think it’s just about racing. Not!
See Bicycling Monterey’s SOC tips, plus Children Celebrate Cycling and Mamas and Babies at Sea Otter Classic to get an idea. Then mark your calendars for the next SOC! Visit the Sea Otter Classic website to learn more. Upcoming confirmed dates are: April 14-17, 2016; April 20-23, 2017; April 19-22, 2018; April 11-14, 2019.
Children and teens biking Salinas
Don’t miss these extraordinary dates for people who bike—or who roll in a wheelchair or wagon, skateboard, rollerblade, walk, run, or otherwise want to enjoy car-free streets: Ciclovia Salinas! These are a great opportunity to bike with children, teens, and all ages on Alisal Street from Oldtown Salinas to East Salinas. This long stretch is temporarily set aside to be free of motor vehicles.
Burrito bike rides (usually twice a year) and numerous other special events in Salinas are kid-friendly. Many people don’t realize that Salinas youth lead the way in many Monterey County bicycling firsts!
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)?
Class I path: “Lots of people don’t even know about the car-free 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!”
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.
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 children how to safely navigate their community 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.
More about Class I paths
See the Where to Bike section of Tips for Bicycling Monterey County. There are many miles of Class I bikeways on the Monterey Peninsula, and some sections of the 18-mile coastal trail are shown below.
Doubly careful: Teaching bike skills to his son using a trail-a-bike, and on a Class I path.
This dad has it all figured out: “We can get miles of riding in ultra safely. No way Mom needs to worry!”
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.
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.
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!
To see a La Mesa Village 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.
Elsewhere on the Monterey Peninsula, kids are biking in Seaside
too. Even on a rainy day, children had biked to the Boys and Girls Club in Seaside (pictured above).
North and South County
See children biking in Castrovilleand Greenfield—and get tips for those communities in those sections of this website.
For South County, as noted above, Pathway to Health Initiative in the Salinas Valley will bring bicycle facility markings in Greenfield and multi-use paths and bicycle lanes in King City (as well as new bike lanes in Salinas). Click here for details.
Many family budgets are often stretched
And most parents are looking for ways to save money! Biking can help, for many reasons.
Among those reasons are that if you go to any of the hundreds of HER Helmet Thursdays spots in Monterey County, males and females (children, teens, and adults) can get discounts on Thursdays. Where? In the following Monterey County cities and unincorporated communities/census-designated places. Click the linked names here 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. And for all the others, refer to the Quick Reference Guide on the Listings/FAQs page.
Among the HER Helmet Thursdays spots are such places as the Monterey Youth Museum (“MY Museum”).
And even if Mom and Dad aren’t biking but perhaps are walking alongside a little one on a bicycle, the child can still get a HER Helmet Thursdays discount because he or she biked there. (Sorry, Mom and Dad. You’ve gotta pedal to get a discount too.) Here’s the bike of a little pedaler who rode in 2016 to Peppers Mexicali Cafe, Pacific Grove. Peppers is a charter participant in this long-term project.
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,” “Bicycle Culture and Youth,” “Biking by the Bay, Cargo Style–for Children Too,” “Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day” (an annual event–backed up with year-round local opportunities), 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 in Monterey County. Explore! Contact Mari with your questions.
Spanish cycling resources
In Spanish, and English, “What Every Parent Should Know,” “Fitting a Helmet,” “Bike Safety around Big Trucks and Buses,” 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 to School, or to anywhere? Consider a bike-and-ride option to help you reach a Class I or other area suitable for young or inexperienced riders.
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.
Did you know there are Monterey County high schools with a cycling team, and a team for high schoolers whose school doesn’t have one? Yup! Learn 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.
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.
It’s wonderful when you can teach kids to bike safely in their own neighborhoods, if conditions allow it. Beyond that, Monterey County’s 18-mile stretch bike/multiuse path, part of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail System, along with other Class I paths in Monterey County, are a great starting ground for families helping children and teens become bikewise.
Join these joyful little ones on the bikeways.
Happy trails to you….