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Learning to ride

You've got the bike, the stabilisers are off, so let's get pedalling! Here are few steps to independent cycling to help you along.

1. Get the balance right

If your child isn’t comfortable with pedals yet, try taking them off altogether and use the
bike as a balance bike to build confidence.

2. One, two, three, wheeee!

Encourage your child to do three big pushes, one foot at a time, and then lift their legs
off the ground. Show them how to do it if that makes it easier for them to understand
what you’re asking them to do.

3. Hold and run

Once they’re happy to try the bike with pedals, ask them to push off along the ground
and then place their feet on the pedals while you hold on to the back of their clothing.
This way, you’re helping them to balance the bike, rather than doing all the work for
them. As they improve, you can release your grip and gradually remove your hand as
they progress.

4. Don’t push the push-start

You may have to help your child start off each time they stop, until they learn the pushstart
technique with the pedal in the correct position. Or your child may like to scoot with
their feet for a few paces before they lift their feet onto the pedals – this is fine too, the
main thing is that they’re getting going and enjoying it.

5. Practice makes perfect

Get out there as much as you can. Just half an hour of practice can make all the
difference, and the more you do it, the more confident your child will become.

6. Let the fun begin!

Keep it fun and light hearted. Make a game of it if you can, perhaps racing them to a
certain point or asking them to weave in between items on the ground to improve
control and balance. Perhaps you could ask a friend to join you.

7. Lead by example

If you have a bike yourself, use it! Show them how much fun it is and start making it part
of family life.

There are lots more resources out there to help you and your family get out on two wheels. The Sustrans website is another great website with load of advice. Have fun! 

Cycle training

For information about delivering cycle training in schools contact:


Road Safety Team
Darlington Borough Council
Allington Way
01325 406696


For lessons in cycling proficiency visit Bikeability [external link]

Learn to Ride sessions (non-school)

In Darlington, our delivery partner 4Motion Darlington runs regular learn to ride sessions for children. 4Motion sessions are held on Saturday mornings at their skate park facility in Faverdale, Darlington. Sessions cost £3 per child. Call 01325 460 550 to book a place.

For information about learn to ride sessions in Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar & Cleveland and Hartlepool, please contact us on 01325 40 50 40 or email and we can help you find out about current activities.

FREE Individual training tailored to adults

The Darlington Road Safety Team offer 4 hours of free cycle training tailored to adults that want to gain more experience and confidence riding a bicycle.

To get your free adult training or learn more about Bikeability please contact: 

Road Safety Team
Darlington Borough Council
Allington Way
01325 406696                                                                                                     

Top tips for getting started

You don’t have to be a super-fit Lycra lover to start cycling. All you need is a bike and a sense of adventure. Cycling is a great way to travel and it helps you keep fit.  Read our top tips below to help you get started.

1. Try before you buy

Before you make the investment, we recommend that you rent a bike or borrow one from a friend or family member. Start off small by riding to the shops or the park. It may take a few goes before you get going but you will begin to relax and enjoy the experience. The more you practice, the more your confidence will grow and the further you will want to explore.

2. Choose the right bike

It’s important that you buy a bike that’s right for you. Consider size, budget and the type of cycling you will be doing. Seek advice from a specialist cycle shop and try out different bikes to see how they feel. The more you spend on a bike the better it is likely to be – and the longer it is likely to last.

If you’re planning on using your bike every day you will need something more durable and should view the purchase as an investment. Think how much money you could save on bus fares, petrol and train tickets.  

3. Plan your route

Before you set off on a bike ride, take some time to plan your route. If you’re just starting out, it’s best to stick to purpose built cycle paths or quiet roads rather that busy main roads, planning will help you map out the safest and quietest route for your trip.

For help planning your route, visit our cycling routes and maps page

4. Demonstrate caution and confidence

Cycling requires both confidence and caution; by caution we mean not taking unnecessary risks and using common sense. Below are some simple tips on how to stay safe when cycling:

  • If setting out on your own, let someone know where you’re going and when you will be back. If possible, take a mobile phone with you.
  • Always be aware of what is happening around you; try and anticipate what other road users and pedestrians might do.  
  • When cycling on the road, allow yourself enough space between the pavement and the road. When you’re turning, learn to look over your shoulder and signal appropriately with your arm.

5. Be visible

You should always make yourself visible to other road users and pedestrians. Wear bright, reflective clothing if you can and don't ride at night without any lights. If you want to be heard as well as seen, a bell is a great way to signal pedestrians and other cyclists. 

6. Be prepared

Whether you’re going for a short ride to your friend’s house or a long trek through the woods, it always pays to be prepared:

  • Take suitable waterproof clothing to allow for any changes in the weather
  • Carry drinks and snacks to keep you hydrated and energised
  • Take a puncture repair kit with you – just in case.

Here are some top tips for staying safe on a bicycle.

Cycling with a disability

Get Cycling is a great resource for disability cycling.  They offer great information and also have around a hundred very different disability cycles for sale, many of them used and refurbished (making them more affordable).

Here are some of their resource guides:

For more information call Get Cycling at 01904 636812 or email

Darlington cycle routes & maps

Here's more information on cycling in Darlington, including an overview of the cycle routes and where to cycle and park your bike in the town centre:

For an overview of cycle routes, please look at the Darlington cycle leaflet

To find routes in the town, please look at the Darlington urban cycling map

To find routes in the surrounding areas, please look at the Darlington rural cycling map

Please look at "Where to cycle in Darlington town centre" for information about how to cycle safely in town.

Parking your bike in Darlington is simple as 1,2,3! Take a look at the Darlington town centre cycle parking map

  1. 1  Brinkburn Local Nature Reserve and West Park [pdf]
  2. 2  Cemetery Lane to Nunnery Lane [pdf]
  3. 3  River Skerne to Red Hall [pdf]
  4. 4  Whinfield [pdf]
  5. 5  Firthmoor and Skerne Park [pdf]
  6. 6  Firthmoor and Lingfield [pdf]
  7. 7  South Park, Mowden and Hummersknott [pdf]
  8. 8  Rockwell, Faverdale and Town Centre [pdf]
  9. 9  Middleton St George [pdf] 
  10. 10 Walworth [pdf]

There are five radial routes that will take you around Darlington.   These are safe cycling routes that have signs along them guiding your way.

Radial cycle routes into Darlington

Tees Valley cycle routes & maps

For cycle routes in the Tees Valley please go to the Connect Tees Valley cycling routes [external link]

Cycle routes in the UK

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to explore what other cycle routes the UK has to offer, we have selected a few useful links to help you plan your next trip:

Hamsterley Forest cycle trails [external link]

Kielder Water & Forest Park cycling [external link]

National Cycle Network [external link]


Regional cycling clubs

CLUB NAME [external links]


Bishop Auckland Cycling Club                


Calendar of Events [external link]

Membership Information [external link]

Darlington Cycling Club                                               

Mr. Wilf McNaughton                                                                                  

Michael J. Drake


Ferryhill Wheelers

Howard Jones

Swaledale Outdoor Club 

Complete the online contact form [external link]




Aycliffe Velo





Chris Atkinson

4Motion (Scooter, BMX and Skateboard Indoor Park)

 Phone:  01325 460550

Stockton Wheelers

 Find out more about events, how to join on their contact us [external link] page.

Gateway Wheelers

“Our Mission is to enable people with disabilities to enjoy cycling and create opportunities for personal development by providing suitable cycles, equipment and support.”   To contact Gateway Wheelers visit their contact us page [external link]

Cycle training

For information about cycle training in schools visit our activities in schools page.

For adult or on road cycle training  visit Bikeability [external link] or contact the Road Safety Teams in:


Road Safety Team
Darlington Borough Council
Allington Way
01325 406696                                                                                                             

South Durham

Road Safety Team
Durham County Council
03000 268 174



Apps for cycling

Here are a few ideas for online cycling apps that can track your miles, monitor your health and show you were there are routes in your area.  There are many more apps for you to choose from and we welcome your comments and reviews or recommendations for other apps.  

Here are a few ideas to get started:

Before you buy a bicycle

Size my Bike [external link] A calculator to help determine what size bicycle would be best for you.

Before you leave home

St John Ambulance First Aid for Cyclists [external link]  We hope you never need this but strongly advise for having it before you leave the house.

BBC Weather [external link]  It helps to know the weather before you set out in order to plan accordingly.

Bike Repair  [external link] 95 Tips and 58 repair guides - save money and do it yourself!  

Measure your ride

Strava [external link] Track you running and cycling with GPS, join challenges, share photos from your activities, and follow friends.

Cyclemeter [external link] A comprehensive tool that uses GPS to measure the distance of your cycle rides and continually records your time, location, distance, elevation, and speed.

Map My Ride [external link] Shows you where you've been, how long it took you and how fast you cycled.

Coach my Ride [external link] A cycle training app to help improve your performance if you are wanting more of a challenge.  

Journey planners

Bike Hub Cycle Journey Planner [external link]  The Bike Hub 'cycle satnav' app finds quickest or quietest cycle routes and locates nearest bike shops. App features true turn-by-turn navigation, with voice instructions and vibrating alerts.

Cycle Streets [external link] A cycle journey planner for cyclists, by cyclists. Plan routes from A to B anywhere in the UK, with a choice of three routing modes to suit a range of cyclists from beginner to regular commuter. 

Google Maps [external link]  Did you know that Google maps will now show cyclists the flattest route - while not yet perfect it still helps to know where the hills will be en route.

For a good cause and one just for fun!

My Virtual Mission [external link]  Use this app to create your own cycle ride for charity.




Bishop Line Hourly Service

Connect Tees valley Logo
Journey planner