10 basic guidelines: How to carry children safe on a bike?

Posted by: Judit

2014-03-10

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If you want to carry your children safe on a bike, please follow these guidelines, they can decrease the risk of injury.

General advices: 

  1. Only adult cyclists should carry children passengers. Preferably ride with children in parks, on bike paths, or on quiet streets. Avoid busy thoroughfares and bad weather, and ride with maximum caution and at a reduced speed.
  2. Infants younger than 12 months are too young to sit in a rear bike seat and should not be carried on a bicycle. Do not carry infants in backpacks or frontpacks on a bike.

Children who are old enough (12 months to 4 years) to sit well unsupported and whose necks are strong enough to support a lightweight helmet may be carried in a child-trailer or rear-mounted seat. Younger children can not sit safe on a bike.

A rear-mounted seat must

  • Be securely attached over the rear wheel
  • Have spoke guards to prevent feet and hands from being caught in the wheels
  • Have a high back and a sturdy shoulder harness and lap belt that will support a sleeping child

The child must be strapped into the bike seat with a sturdy harness.

Helmets:

Regardless of  regulations, in a child seat it is strongly advisable children wear a helmet.  Because of the fontanel — soft spot in an infants skull — infants are susceptible to more head injuries than adults.  The use of a helmet in a well designed trailer with a good harness/restraint system it is more debatable. One argument for using a helmet is it starts a good habit. Most trailers have good enough harnesses (if properly used) and cages that if the trailer should roll over the child’s head is never going to come in contact with anything hard, so a helmet is superfluous. In such an accident, any injury is going to come for jostling the head and neck. In which case, theoretically the weight of the helmet might exacerbate the injuries (but a good infant helmet weighs only a few hundred grams).

If the baby’s neck is not strong enough to handle some jostling, he or she shouldn’t be in the trailer (or child seat) yet. Check with the baby’s physician about when is the right time to start taking the baby by bike.

Children often fall asleep in trailers.  If a child dozes in a seat or trailer their head may loll and bounce around, a situation pediatricians say is not good.  The helmet can help to cradle and protect their head as the lean over.  Additional it may be helpful to provide side cushions or some other means to can support the head, or be prepared to stop whenever the child gets sleepy.

When selecting a helmet, it is more important that the helmet meets a recognized standard and fits properly. The helmet should sit so that it covers the forehead, not worn like a yarmulke or skullcap.  For helmets worn in a trailer and child seats, the helmet should be rounded in back — not flared.

Seat or trailer?

Child seats create a higher center of gravity than trailers so in terms of physics and stability they have a high risk. There is no prove to say that any higher risk is statistically significant. The smaller the child, and more proficient and safety conscience the cyclist, the more the risk for a child seat is reduced to about the same level as for a trailer. Road and traffic conditions can also affect risk. Some road and traffic conditions favor trailers and other conditions favor child seats.  Road and traffic considerations may be a more significant factor than stability issues so it can’t be said that one method is better than another in a given situation.

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