Learning How to Ride a Bike

Saturday September 25, 2021 — Brooklyn, New York

I was surprised to learn a couple months ago that the way people teach their kids how ride a bike is different than it was when I was growing up. Instead of training wheels, the modern way to do it is a “balance bike”, which is a small bike without pedals, that’s low enough to the ground that the kid can run while sitting in the seat. Then, they can lift their feet up once they get up to speed, in order to practice balancing. This is much easier than using training wheels, since it lets you practice balancing separately from pedaling and getting up to speed. It also lets you practice balancing without the training wheels preventing you from making sharp turns or big corrections, which makes the balancing that you do learn more transferable.

It’s interesting to me that the bicycle was invented around 150 years ago, but we’re still figuring out the most effective way to teach people how to ride it. I suspect that this is true for many things — there’s a huge lag between inventing a thing, and inventing effective ways to teach people how to use that thing.