For many parents who love cycling, a big worry is what to do when the babies start coming. At this point many give up on cycling entirely for many years, and, unfortunately, by the time they return to the sport, they have lost the time, motivation and inclination they had in previous years. This doesn’t have to happen to you any more!
You can now carry your infant by bike and still enjoy the experience of cycling. How can this be achieved?
You can enjoy biking while your child tags along by using one of the many child bike seats available today. How safe are they? You have nothing to worry about as most of these can be compared to Britax and other such powerful car seats; bike carrying technology has progressed a long way over recent years.
Again, contrary to what some people think, it is lawful to carry your child in these bike seats.
What options are available to you? What are the pros and cons?
Rear-mounted child bike seats
These are the most popular types of seat that cycling parents look for. They fit snuggly over the rear wheel of your bike and they normally have a high back and raised sides, accompanied by leg guards and a harness.
The advantage with this type of bike seat is that your child will be extremely well-supported while you cycle. When you are not going out with your child, you can use the seat to carry bags.
The down-side with it is that unless you are strong, carrying extra weight may problematic. Also, since your child is behind you, you are tempted to constantly look behind you to see what is going on there.
Front-mounted child bike seats
This type of bike seat is often more compact than rear seats, as manufacturers understand the fact that your arms are supposed to comfortably go over the seat.
With this type of seat the major advantage is that your child is in front of you while you are enjoying your bike journey. The disadvantage though, is that there are fewer models to choose from and they are more expensive.
These are basically carriages that allow you to tow your child behind you. They come with a set of wheels, and long metal arms that are attached to your bike. The carriage compartment is weather-proof, ventilated and zipped. There is also a window for your child to peer out from and enjoy the view while you ride.
The advantage in using this mode of carriage is that it is spacious and comfortable, with enough storage space for toys. Some trailer models convert into a push chair that you can use when you park the bike.
On the negative side, a trailer is often costlier than bike seats and it is not advisable to use it on bumpy road, as there can be the risk of toppling. It can also fall over if you make quick turns; make sure you secure the trailer properly if you do go for one.
With any of the above, you can continue to enjoy cycling with your child just like they do in the Netherlands, where adapted cycles can be seen everywhere because cycling is a way of life there.
Here are some tips you must follow for safe cycling with a child:
Never take a baby along while cycling if he or she can’t support his or her own head. The ideal time to ride with your baby is when he is able to sit properly without aid and can wear a helmet. On average the baby must be six months old at least.
Wearing a helmet while cycling immediately reduces the risk of head injury by 85%. It also reduces the risk of serious brain injury by 90%. This highlights the importance of getting both you and your child into the habit of wearing appropriate cycle helmets.
Regardless of the design of child bike seat you choose to go with, make sure your bike is suited to it. Bike seats are not a “one size fits all”. Using a bike seat that doesn’t fit your bike is a recipe for disaster.
The seats should have a footrest to avoid the risk of your child’s feet getting caught in between the spokes.
Finally, you need to be sure that the bike seats comply with the required safety standards (BSI number BS EN 14344:2004).