Fewer kids are riding bikes these days, new research finds, and increasing prices won’t help the industry, which has been taking a hit as a result.
A story in the Washington Post highlights data from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association showing that the number of kids ages 6-17 who bike ride regularly went down by more than a million kids between 2014 and 2018.
Bicycle prices are also on the rise, the article says – and that’s likely to increase even more due to new Trump administration tariffs on Chinese-made goods.
Drooping sales on children’s bikes have also led to price increases on bicycles, the Washington Post reports.
“CEOs of bike companies have and will testify in front of the U.S. Trade Representative about these tariffs: that bike prices will go up, and that means fewer kids will ride bikes,” Tim Blumenthal, president of the nonprofit group People for Bikes, says in the article.
“The consequences of kids riding bikes will go well beyond the number of kids who ride.”
Why will there be ‘consequences’?
Because riding a bike has many mental and physical health benefits, People for Bikes notes on its website – benefits that kids may start missing out on.
For example, cycling to school is associated with lower chances of being overweight or obese for adolescents. Girls who walk or bike to school even perform better on tests, according to the organization.
Giving kids access to bikes
So if biking is so positive for children, what can parents do to help address the decline in bike riding? Getting kids access to bikes and helping them learn how to ride a bike is the natural starting point.
If it’s within your budget, a new kids’ bike averages around $130, based on a quick Amazon.com search. Don’t forget to invest in a helmet, too, and consider safe options – such as this list of 50 top bikes for kids from Safety.com. Watch for sales, too, especially during the off season.
Exploring secondhand bikes is another option. Check within your network and ask friends with children or even check through your child’s school or social groups. Always be sure to give the bike a good inspection before taking it home.
Hunting for a deal on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay or elsewhere online is another choice, but be cautious when buying used. Bicycling.com offers several tips on buying a used bike to avoid buying a lemon. Always top it off by taking your new-to-you bicycle to a local bike shop for a tuneup, the site recommends.
You can also check with those bike shops to explore used options. Just bear in mind that bike shops will carry higher-quality brands. That means even used bikes can be a bit pricier – but, if your child is older and past major growth spurts, it could be a good investment.
For example, a call to Michigan-based American Cycle and Fitness, which sells used bikes at its Pontiac location, reveals that used kids bike prices can vary from $90 to a little over $220.
Places for kids to bike
Fortunate enough to have bikes on hand? Families can take advantage of the many high-quality biking trails across southeast Michigan and beyond. Bike riding outings with the kids can not only be a fun family bonding activity, but they can also encourage a lifelong sport that children can enjoy for many years to come.
Consider these five bike trails in metro Detroit that are popular among local families.
1. Clinton River Spillway Bike Path
This two-mile stretch passes through the woods parallel to the spillway between Velger Boat Harbor on Lake St. Clair and Shady Side Park in Mount Clemens.
2. Paint Creek Trail
It’s the state’s first non-motorized rail-to-trail path and offers bikers a picturesque 8.9-mile linear park with an 8-foot wide route that passes through Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township, Orion Township and the Village of Lake Orion.
3. Corktown Bike Lanes
Enjoy the 16-plus miles of bike lanes connecting Corktown and southwest Detroit. More serious bikers can continue their cycle along the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route Detroit Alternate, which winds through Detroit and around Lake St. Clair and beyond.
4. Stony Creek Metropark
At this giant Shelby Township park, cyclists can find an easy ride including six miles of paved pathway. For a tougher trail, try the 14 miles of hilly, heavily forested dirt terrain.
5. Oakwoods Metropark
Another choice for those seeking an easy bike path, this trail in the New Boston area features flat terrain and grassy meadows on its three-mile ride. Plus, enjoy pleasant views of the Huron River.
Do your kids ride bikes? If so, where did you get yours? Do you have any tips on buying a bike – and where do you like to bike? Let us know in the comments.