Balance Bikes and Licenses for Kids

A child riding a balance bike during Sunday Streets in 2009. Photo: Matthew Roth
A child riding a balance bike during a Sunday Streets in 2009. Photo: Matthew Roth

Balance bikes are getting ever more popular and from most accounts they are an excellent way to help kids learn to be comfortable and get them riding bikes faster than with training wheels. So when we got a press release recently announcing a promotional gimmick between a company called Balance Bikes 4 Tots and that paired balance bikes with licenses aimed at kids 1-5 years old, you could forgive me for blanching.

From the release:

People all over are finding that a great way to complement a bicycle gift is with a personalized photo ID from The Bike Licenses are durable and safe like credit cards. They can be personalized with a child’s photo and name right on the card, just like a driver’s license and can be created directly on Picturoo’s website

‘Kids are so excited when they get a bike as a gift, but nothing beats the proud look on their face when they get a just-for-fun photo license ID card to go with it,” said Yvonne Lee, Balance Bikes 4 Tots owner.

Promoting bike licenses to little kids and comparing it to a driver’s license? Mandatory bicycle licensing is a contentious issue and programs like the one in San Jose have proven so ineffective they have been discontinued. Had Yvette Lee never heard of the debate around bike licenses?

No, in fact, Lee had never thought of that and she didn’t want to give the wrong impression. “These are just fun licenses, not actual licenses,” she said. “They’re not meant to require people to have licenses for bicycle riding. It’s not to advocate licensing, just for fun.”

Lee is a home-based distributor for Strider balance bikes and is based in the Bay Area. She became a convert to the bikes when she bought them for her two and four-year-old sons, who took to them immediately and learned to balance better than her 6-year-old daughter, said Lee. In fact, her four-year-old takes his balance bike to a nearby skate park and BMX dirt bike track and maneuvers the obstacles “just like with the big kids.” She even expected her 2-year-old to graduate to a regular bike by two and a half

“We’re helping evangelize the product, that’s how Strider has been growing,” Lee added.

I guess I can’t fault her for her enthusiasm, I just hope she ditches the licenses, even if they are just for fun.

  • Bicyclist licenses aren’t a joke. Bicyclists are road users just like drivers and they are subject to all the same rules and laws. I see bicyclists violating them way to often to keep track of. Is is just Ignorance or what? A stop sign means stop, especially when there are pedestrians in the cross walk regardless of whether you’re on 2 wheels or 4. Requiring licensed bicyclists would possibly make it click that they need to follow the rules too. It should have a written test similar to the one required for the driver’s licence test, possibly with bike specific rules.

  • Requiring licenses hasn’t made it click with motorists, why do you suppose it would work for cyclists?

  • But what happens when adults over-think things and spoil all the fun?

  • I can’t wait till I can have a cool pedestrian road user license.

  • @roymeo,

  • Alex

    @Murph In that case let’s get rid of automobile licenses.

  • I honestly don’t see a reason to make a big deal. As long as we live in a culture that prioritizes and loves cars, kids are going to want to be like mommy and daddy and maybe that means having a license. I do think kids would be just as happy with just the bike though, and I don’t think bikes should be associated with licenses. Maybe when you buy your kid a fisher price plastic car it can come with a license. But really, maybe just let the kids enjoy the darn toys and not drag licenses in at all. Oh, when I was smaller I had a fake shaving kit so I could shave just like my dad, I loved it.

  • killjoy ideologues are no fun

  • maaaty

    As a kid, I don’t think I even knew about drivers’ licenses until I was at least 10. It’s not like my parents got traffic tickets every week.

    “Killjoy?” — okay, why not get them done at the DMV? Is that enough joy for you? Oh, the joy of a license!

  • Bob Davis

    I am reminded of the comment about “real world” driver’s licenses. It’s an anatomy discovery; medical researchers have located the nerve that runs from the fingertips to the section of the brain devoted to bicycle riding skills. Existence of this neural pathway has long been suspected, since handing a driver’s license to a teenager often disables the “bike riding” segment of the cerebral cortex.

  • I am reminded of the comment about “online” commenting. It’s an anatomy discovery; medical researchers have located the nerve that runs from the fingertips to the section of the brain devoted to making insightful commentary. Existence of this neural pathway has long been suspected, since handing a keyboard to an anonymousness commenter often disables the “rational” segment of the cerebral cortex.

  • Balance motorbikes for children are greatly popular as they are so easy for youngsters to learn to journey quickly. The idea of an equilibrium bicycle is very simple, a little bicycle shape, with the pedals eliminated and made in styles little enough that even young youngsters can have fun with.