How we use our bikes as a family

Making the transition to riding your bike as a family can be daunting to some. It’s easy to jump in the car and drive to your destination irrespective of how close it is. As a country, we have become heavily dependent upon cars with over 40 million in circulation. Even journeys under 1 mile are now done by car. It’s a frightening statistic.

Biking as a family doesn’t have to be scary though. To start with we have a car and use our car. We only have one but it’s something we couldn’t live without as aspects of our lifestyle are made better by having a car. Visiting family, National Trust sites, driving to the South of France on holiday are all parts of our life we wouldn’t change.

We love our car and arguably the car is actually one of the greatest inventions (behind the bicycle of course) ever created. It’s unfortunately become overused and inefficient as a mode of transport.

Monday – Friday we rarely use our car and opt for walking or cycling as our choice of transportation. We are a family with a 3 and 7 year old and here are some of the ways we use our bikes as a family both as a mode of transport and for fun. 

We hope these will inspire more people to do the same.

School Run:

There seems to be a growing trend of people choosing to send their children to a school which is not walkable from where they live. If you live rurally then this can obviously be challenging however more and more parents living in the suburbs are choosing a school which is not their catchment school. 

Our local school is 0.8 miles away and we chose where we live so we can walk/cycle to school. There are so many scientific benefits to starting the day walking/biking to school including increased blood flow to the brain, concentration and of course physical benefits too.

We regularly use our bikes as a mode of getting our daughter to school. She loves riding to school and is able to safely leave her bike within the provided bike storage. As a parent too it’s far more efficient than finding a place to park the car, unloading and walking to the school gates.

As parents who work from home, it’s also a short burst of exercise before the working day. You can also get home really quickly;  beating the traffic and frustrations of the working week. 

Choose an area/school which is bikeable and build the daily habit of using the bike every single day; whatever the weather. It has so many benefits to the entire family.

Nursery drop-offs:

Choosing a Nursery within cycling distance is also another option which has benefitted us. Currently, our boy was unable to get a place in the local Nursery (due to change from January 2024) so the distance is a little long for day-to-day cycling however when the weather plays ball we have cycled him to his afternoon drop off.

Not only is it great exercise for the parent but the scenery of cycling vs stuck in a car is far more enjoyable for a little one.


Another reason we chose our area is its proximity to shops for groceries. Kids eat a lot and it’s handy having two major supermarkets within half a mile (although the traffic is a huge negative).

We tend to have our primary shop delivered but we regularly top up with additional items and we do this on our bike. Given we are so close to the supermarkets it turns a mundane activity into something a little more worthwhile. Our little boy enjoys it on the back of the bike and as a parent, you get a little bit of exercise vs a sedentary journey in a car.

This also has environmental/congestion benefits too. Online shopping vans tend to deliver on average 20 drops of shopping meaning that’s just 1 van making the journey vs 20 cars. 

With online shopping, though there’s always something you miss so we use the bike to grab these items. My wife has an old-fashioned Dutch-style bike with a basket on the front which is brilliant for groceries. If I go I either load items into a pannier bag or I’ll wear a backpack. 

There’s a whole host of subliminal benefits to this but more than anything it’s a real mood enhancer when you do a day-to-day task away from the car and via your own steam!

Baby Groups & After school clubs:

Like all families, my wife was enrolled in a number of local baby clubs for each of our two children. These are great to cycle to as they tend to be really busy with cars. Not only this but it adds an element of exercise for the parent; especially in the winter months when most classes are inside and there tends to be more of a sedentary lifestyle.

Our daughter Matilda is active in a number of clubs and we use the bike to cycle to some of these. Tennis on a Sunday morning is approximately a mile away and this is a fantastic club to cycle to. Again it’s a little burst of exercise for the adult vs carting the children everywhere to their own exercise.

Country Parks & Play Areas:

We are fortunate to have a number of country parks and play areas within cycling distance. With children, I characterise this as sub 2 miles. This is an inexpensive but fun family day out. Get on your bikes, pack a picnic and head to a local park. The kids love this type of thing and it also means one less car journey. There’s nothing better than venturing somewhere local, having a great time and not having to use the car!

Local events:

Another way we use our bikes is for local events. It could be a Library event, food market or something similar. We have the Hepworth Gallery within 3 miles of our house and we regularly utilise our bikes to make the journey. 

Our area holds yearly Scarecrow festivals and we utilise our bikes to cycle around and see all the Scarecrows. We also had a local Kite Festival where hundreds of cars descended onto a small village. We took our bikes.

Those little journeys which could be done without using the car can make a difference to your health, mind and body.

Work meetings:

As a freelance consultant, I occasionally have face-to-face meetings. I try to tailor these around being a comfortable cycling distance from home (sub 3 miles). This is so that I can cycle the journey in ‘normal’ clothes and turn up to the meeting without being hot and sweaty!

There are a number of coffee shops/places to meet within a radius of where I live and most clients are accommodating. I explain we are a one-car family and if I can cycle it would be better. This enables me to ‘control my own time’ and kindly ask others to accommodate my requirements.

For meetings which are elsewhere, I would obviously use the car but this is always my primary method.

Biking trails & weekend fun:

Perhaps the entire making of this blog and our passion for bikes has been traffic-free trails. There’s nothing more we enjoy than finding a traffic-free bike route, taking the bikes and exploring what awaits on the route. Our recent trip to the Monsal Trail is evidence of this. Traffic-free cycling and discovery which both the children loved!

When you build your life around these activities the kids embrace this lifestyle and just want to do it more. We followed this up with a trip on the Trans Pennine Trail to Hornsea.

Hook the bikes on the bike rack and have an enjoyable weekend/day out on the bikes. It adds an element of exercise to an exciting weekend which you perhaps wouldn’t get if you didn’t cycle. You also get to explore the lengths of breaths of your county; discovering places you wouldn’t otherwise venture to.

Bikes & holidays:

Bikes also form a clear part of our holiday plans. Not a specific bike holiday but the environment will be bike-centric.

We spend our Summers in France on campsites and the bikes come away with us. The warm Summer evenings cycling (chasing) with our kids around the campsite as well as adventures into local villages to sample pastry delights. It’s complete bliss.

On our way back to the UK this Summer we spent 5 days in the Netherlands where we were in bike heaven. I wrote about the differences in family cycling in the Netherlands vs the UK. Bikes are always part of our holiday plans.

When holidaying in the UK Center Parcs is a favourite of ours because of the bikeability of the place. Our kids love swimming too so spend our time biking from the parks, to the pool and then back to the lodge. It’s a great place to teach your children how to ride a bike too.


As a family we have a car which we use however we love the freedom and options a bike gives us. With safe infrastructure like those available in The Netherlands, I believe the vast majority of our journeys would be done via Bike.

Unfortunately, the UK doesn’t prioritise cycling as a day-to-day mode of transport and as a result, we use our bikes the best we can.

For us, it’s maximising the journeys on the bike and removing the need for the car as much as possible. There are a heap of reasons for this including health, mindset and environmentally but most of all it’s the freedom a bike gives you which is unmatched by any other type of transport.

Even if you can make small changes to your life and use a bike for the school run or shopping for groceries you will gain huge satisfaction from doing so. The kids will love it too!

Last Updated on December 21, 2023 by Ryan

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