When you’re a new parent, you want to make sure that you are able to be with your child wherever you go.
If this means taking your baby to work and letting him chill by the water cooler, sure. You’d do it. Anything to have the little tyke close to you.
If you’re a bike enthusiast, you’ve probable been out and about looking for some nifty device to enable you and your child to be together.
In fact, you probably have your eyes on a baby bike trailer. For those of you who don’t know what it is, this is exactly what it sounds like: a trailer behind your bike that you can put your baby in.
This seems like the perfect solution to all your baby problems. But is it really the perfect solution?
When is it safe to put my baby in a bike trailer?
Firstly, let it be known that it is very dangerous to ride without a helmet. Make sure that your baby, and you, are wearing helmets when you ride.
It is only safe to put your baby in a bike trailer when they are over a year old. Any time before is insanely dangerous for your baby. Seat your child firmly, strap them in securely, and close up the compartment.
Usually, the one year rule is a law. This applies in the state of New York, among others. The reasoning behind this is very simple.
The Theory behind the One Year Law
As every parent knows, there is a soft spot in every infant’s head. This makes them far more likely to get head injuries than an adult.
A bike trailer is closer to the ground to prevent long-distance falls. This is a good thing, sure, but it sacrifices vibration dampening and shock absorption for this safety factor.
This means that when you take a baby in a bike trailer over a bumpy bike trail, off tarmac roads, the vibrations and constant shuddering will be transmitted directly to the baby.
This will cause them to bounce up and down for the duration of the trail. For a very young child, the constant shuddering motion of the brain could even lead to mental handicaps during later years.
To prevent this, you need to make sure that there is foam dampening in your bike trailer. If you really want to keep your baby safe inside a bike trailer, put as many pillows and soft padding as possible between the baby and the hard surfaces.
Make sure your baby is stable, and can sit upright before taking them on a bike ride.
To be extra safe, try to make sure you find a helmet for your child. Ultimately, it is far more important that you keep your child safe and away from you than at risk and with you.
The Disadvantages of Having a Baby Bike Trailer
- One of the biggest drawbacks of having a baby bike trailer and carrying your kid with you wherever you go is the greater time it takes to get to places.It is highly recommended that you stay off main roads when you are using a bike trailer. If you take back roads and bike trails, you will end up taking far longer to get to where you want to go.
This time is added to by the fact that you will be pulling extra load behind you. This will slow you down (its all physics you know!)
- Bike trailers are low to the ground. In theory this is so that if they do spill the passenger out, your baby won’t fall more than a foot.This may seem great, but there is a drawback of them being so low. Since most vehicles are pretty high up, it is very possible that a driver simply wouldn’t see the trailer. This could result in some very gruesome consequences.
- Another problem with the baby bike trailer is that when they are attached, it becomes rather like a real trailer on a car. It affects your handling on turns, forcing you to make wider turns.Another drawback of the bike trailer is that it gets harder to overtake when your turning curve is large. This means you will have to force yourself to go slow.
- An extension of this problem is…well, the extension of the bike. The trailer adds extra length to your bike, meaning that you won’t be able to maneuver nearly as easily as before.The trailer will add an extra load to your cycling. This will mean you have a lot more to pull. While you may think you can take it, you’ll be thinking again when faced with a long distance trip somewhere with the little one.
- Less interaction with the kids leaves you feeling like they are far more exposed to the ways of the world.You’ll be worrying a lot initially. While your worries may not be grounded, you will still not feel as secure, because your baby is further from you.
Not the Death Traps You Think They Are
While the disadvantages you read about in reviews and other sources may seem like the bike trailer is something Satan cooked up in the deepest circle of Hell, it isn’t.
In fact, a bike trailer is one of the safest methods by which a baby can travel on a bike. If you follow proper safety procedures before putting your baby in a bike trailer (and before even buying one), you will be able to have an absolutely amazing bike ride with your baby.
Staying Safe on a Bike Trailer
For example, before getting on a bike with a trailer, you need to make sure that the fastener between the bike and the trailer is secure.
An unfastened trailer could snap off at the wrong moment and lead to you running like a madman after the trailer as it rockets towards an old lady crossing the street.
When getting a trailer for your bike, make sure that you get one with a ball and socket joint. This means that even though your bike may tip over because you’re trying to take a turn too tight, the trailer will remain upright.
This is incredibly useful, especially on winding country roads.
Another safety tip would be to make sure that the trailer you buy has extra safety features. For example, more expensive trailers usually have built-in roll bars just in case something does go wrong.
In addition to this, you should get a bright safety/warning flag for the trailer, so that the odd driver who does come along will be able to see it.
One of the most important safety tips you can follow is the need for a helmet. Drill this fact into your kids’ heads every time you go out.
No helmet – no ride. That’s final. No exception.
A helmet could be the difference between life and death for you and your loved ones. Make sure you get one that fits right.
If you follow the safety procedures and stick to the by-roads instead of traffic stricken main roads, you and you baby should be able to have a fine bike ride.
However, if you feel like the drawbacks of a bike trailer are just too many, there are a couple of other alternatives you could get instead.
Bike Seats – Front and Rear
Bike seats are exactly what they sound like (not a lot of effort goes into naming bike accessories). They are a safe seat that is mounted either on the front or rear of your bike.
While this may seem cumbersome, there is a lot of design features that make it a comfortable ride. There are also different perks, depending on the type of seat (but trailers are often considered safer than bike seats).
Front Mounted Bike Seats
These seats are made in such a way that you are holding your child, facing forward, in your arms as you ride. The design allows you to hold your handlebars with comfort. The more advanced front facing seats also have a bar attached which allows your child to fall asleep safely.
These are most suitable for children aged one to five. As they get older they struggle a lot more, making it rather unsafe for the older children to use these. A disadvantage is that the child won’t be as comfortable as they would be in a bike trailer.
It is also harder to put a child into the bike seat than a trailer. The higher center of gravity will make you feel like it is more difficult to maneuver the bike as well.
Rear Mounted Bike Seats
The same principle as the front seat applies. The seat also still faces forward. The advantage is that it feels less cumbersome, especially since there is no baby restricting the movement of your arms.
The rear mounted seat also has the distinct advantage of not blocking your legs when pedaling.
In a way, bike seats are a way of being closer to your baby while riding. You can always be assured that they are right there with you seeing the same things you are.
However, it isn’t all butterflies and marshmallows. You would have to be extra careful when riding with a bike seat. A crash could result in severe injuries for a baby. Always make sure that both you and your kid are wearing safety gear when biking on the streets or trails.
The Cargo Bike
>The cargo bike is a special bike designed specifically for the transport of goods. It looks pretty funky, but it is actually very useful when it comes to transporting just about anything, even kids.
The difference between a cargo bike and a bike trailer or seats is that the cargo bike is actually built that way. Because of this, the design allows for its center of gravity to be in the perfect position. It also means that the danger of attachments snapping is gone.
The cargo bike also has the advantage of being multifunctional. You can use the cargo compartment for transporting goods as well as your kids. It is perfect for anything because it has a large compartment.
It is also low to the ground. This means that the danger of it tipping over and falling is drastically reduced.
Instead of a flimsy trailer, a solid box makes up the cargo bike. This makes your kids far safer. The compartment can be fitted out with many different covers. In fact, these bikes have even been called the SUVs of the bike world.
There are, however a few disadvantages to owning a cargo bike.
The first and foremost is space. Because of the large cargo compartment, the bike takes up a lot more space than a normal bicycle with a trailer or seats attached. Because of this you will need a larger parking space for the bike.
It also means you will be able to use it in less of a variety of places than a normal bike. The bigger size would result in you having to stay in traffic more often because it would compromise your ability to weave in and out like you normally would.
Another disadvantage is the extra weight. While the solid box and heavy stand provide extra protection and stability, they do add a lot more extra weight.
You will find this particularly troublesome when cycling up a gradient. In fact, you would probably end up switching to an electric motor to help you climb inclines easier (that is if you choose a bike with an electric motor).
All of these changes would mean the cargo bike would cost extra compared to the standard bike trailer or seats.
However, when you consider the obvious advantages of the cargo bike, you might just be persuaded to get it.
After all, it is your child’s safety that matters the most. In a cargo bike you are able to keep watch on your child while maintaining that level of safety. This makes it ideal for parents.
Sure, you will have to spend more, and you may even lose the freedom a normal bike would grant you. But this is a worthy sacrifice to make for the sound of your children laughing in the front, safe and sound as they see the world moving past on their first bike ride.