Q: My son is a tall six year old and has autism so is not keen on doing things outside of his comfort zone. Since he was little I've had balance bikes, bikes with stabilisers, bikes with adult bars etc to try to help him to ride a bike and he still cannot grasp the concept and gets frustrated. He is now very tall and so I no longer know how to help in teaching him how to learn to balance on a bike in order to ride it. Have you any advice please as I would like him to be able to ride his bike with his friends as he gets older.

Sara says: I consulted a good friend for this, one who is an experienced cycle trainer.

She suggested it was important to not put pressure on the child as this might actually put them off cycling.

Different children mature in different ways and for some balancing on two wheels is not a problem.

Other children don’t learn to cycle until they are older but become very competent or even competitive cyclists as teenagers or adults.

Succeeding at a different type of activity which might help with balance and confidence may also be a way of gradually coming back to cycling.

For example taking part in a sport like climbing either on equipment in play areas or at a number of gyms in York, where children as young as four are welcome.

Gym clubs will also help with children’s fitness and balance. At all costs avoid the child deciding that cycling is difficult or they just can’t cycle!

Balance bikes are designed for small children, however you can turn larger children’s bikes into balance bikes by removing the pedals and putting the seat down so a taller child can learn to balance.

A further suggestion can be to try the child on a tag a-long that attaches to the back of an adult bike and the child has pedals but will not be steering or need to balance.

A child back tandem is another possibility where your son will become a good pedaller and enjoy getting out on a bike.

Get Cycling on Hospital Fields Road have an amazing range of specialist bikes both new and refurbished so worth checking out (www.getcycling.org.uk/specialist-cycles). If your son can get out safely on family rides it might wet his appetite for cycling independently.

City of York Council has a brilliant resource in the iTravel website(www.itravelyork.info) giving a wealth of information and inspiration, including details about cycle training opportunities. CYC’s Road Safety Team offers sessions to adults and families alongside their well known work delivering Bikeability Cycle Training through York’s Primary and Secondary schools.

* Do you have a question about cycling? Email maxine.gordon@thepress.co.uk and we will pass your question on to Sara

About Sara

Sara has been riding her bike in York and further afield since 1980. She initially got into cycling in Australia and worked as a mechanic in two bike shops in Sydney. When she moved to York Sara was a founder member of York Cycleworks which was set up as a workers coop in 1980 and she worked there in many roles until 2002. She rides one of her bikes most days and would love to encourage more people of all ages to ride bikes for getting around, shopping, commuting and leisure.