Carrying Children On Bicycles
Pat Hines (Traffic Safety Educator & Executive Director, SafeMoves) gives expert video advice on: Is it safe to carry a baby in a sling or backpack while riding a bicycle?; What is the safest way to ride a bicycle with a child? and more...
At what age is it safe to bring a child along on a bicycle ride?
As the executive director and founder of Safe Moves, and a safe person, there is no age that a child should go on a bicycle with a parent. I personally believe that the bike seats that are made to go on the back of a bike aren't fit to ride on the back of a bike. A bicycle is not meant to carry that extra weight. It throws off the whole balance of the bicycle and as a former bike racer, I would not feel qualified to ride my bicycle with 20, 30, 40 pounds on the back of my bike. I wouldn't carry a backpack that heavy when I ride my bike and I certainly wouldn't put a baby or a child in the back seat of a bicycle. It throws the weight off, you can't turn as quickly, you can't break as quickly, and who would want to take a chance of the child falling, even if you weren't in danger of being hit with a car. Just a slip on some grass, or sand, the baby goes down and the baby would go down really hard. We don't recommend trailers for the same reason. We think the trailers ride low to the ground. Motorists don't even see you. How are the going to see a trailer that's riding a foot off the ground. So, if you want to ride bikes with your children, which I think is a great thing to do because it's a great sport, wait until they are old enough to ride along side you, or buy one of those units that hook onto your bike, and the child is riding independently. Babies don't belong on bikes. I think it's almost a little bit selfish as a parent to do that. Children are too young, they don't really realize what they are riding with, so wait until they're older so they can really enjoy the sport in a safe, fun way.
Is it safe to carry a baby in a sling or backpack while riding a bicycle?
Riding a bike with one seat means one passenger. To ride a bicycle with a baby in a sling or a backpack is incredibly dangerous and should never be done under any circumstances. Often, in many states riding with a baby in a sling or backpack is against the law. I don't even think some states make it a law because they think any common sense would prevail and a parent would never put their child in a backpack or a sling and ride a bicycle with that child.
What is the safest way to ride a bicycle with a child?
The safest way to ride a bicycle with a child is when that child is able to ride a bike safely with you on their own bike, with their own helmet on, under their own power. Now, they do make special attachments where the child can ride in tandem with you on a third wheel. It's a bar that connects to your seat post that extends out behind the back wheel, and the child is pedalling right along with you - has their own seat and their own handlebars. That weight is evenly distributed and it is a safe way to ride with your child. But the safest way to ride with your child is when they're old enough to ride under their own power - own seat, own handlebars, and own helmet.