For babies and toddlers the options are:
- a child/baby seat on your current bike
- a trailer attached to your bike
- a special bike that accommodates kids
Each option provides different levels support and protection. Here are some considerations as you work out what is best for you and your child.
- What impact protection is provided?
- Will your child’s head be supported AND able to comfortably wear a helmet?
- Are curious hands and unpredictable limbs protected from your bikes moving parts?
- Will it affect how well you can handle your bike?
- Will it cause your bike (and child!) to topple over when you are parking, loading and unloading?
- Does it comply to a reputable safety standard somewhere in the world?
- Will you be able to easily interact with and/or observe your child?
- Is your child protected from the elements?
- Will it support your child when they fall asleep?
- Will it accommodate a growing child? (or an extra child!)
- Will it fit your bike?
- Will you be able to get on and off your bike, and pedal, with it attached?
- Do you want to use it on just one parent’s bike, or both?
- How easy is it to get on and off?
- Do you need a special rack or handlebar arrangement to accommodate it?
- Where will you keep it?
- Will it be portable when you wish to take your bikes on cars, trains or planes?
- Does it have in-built storage space for carrying yours and children’s gear?
Designs vary a lot, as does quality and safety. Do your research and choose carefully.
Child / Baby Seats
Usually made of moulded plastic, they will be designed specifically for the front or rear of your bike. Front mounted seats may sit in front of or behind the handlebars. In Europe and Japan some bikes have the seat integrated into the handlebar section of the bike. Rear mounted seats sit on a strong rear rack.
Advantages: Being closer to your child especially if front mounted; easier to store and manoeuvre.
Disadvantages: less protection (both from weather and injury); can make it difficult to park/unload the bike unless you have an industrial strength kickstand or another adult to help.
My attempt at using a child/baby seat was short lived: it just didn’t work for me so I moved on to other options. So I will refer you to the voices of experience:
Trailers provide protection from the elements and some ‘roll cage’ safety. Their stability, protection and features vary by make and model. Some double as buggies and/or strollers, and can be used with a harness for cross country skiing! They provide the versatility of carrying more gear, such as baby paraphernalia, your picnic lunch, or shopping.
We used a Chariot CX Double trailer and loved it’s quality, versatility and usefulness. Check out: A Very Useful Trailer
Kid Carrying Bikes – Utility/Cargo Bikes
Cargo bikes are built for hauling heavy loads. Increasingly popular, they provide a practical alternative to car use and have been dubbed ‘the new station wagon’ by the Wall Street Journal. 25% of families with two or more children in Copenhagen own a cargo bike. They are not new, with a long history of commercial, retail and family use in Europe and Asia. What is new are the electric versions, which make them hill-friendly.
Some cargo bikes have a front ‘bucket’ for the kids, e.g. Bakfiets, Christiania. Others have the kids riding behind. I’ve posted some examples on my pinterest board. There are now some good sources of cargo bikes in New Zealand, giving us access to some of the great options used in famous cycling cities overseas. See the links page for some options.
I adore my Yuba Mundo cargo bike (called Rocket) and will be writing more about it very soon. In the meantime here are some older blog posts about Rocket. A new way to get around, week 1, Rocket week 2 – decked out, Week 3: 40 km on Rocket.
Your comments are welcomed. What kid carrying device do you use? What do you like and dislike about it? What questions would you like answered about bubs and bikes?