Cycling with Young Children

Child bicycle seats, trailers and tag-a-long bikes let you enjoy cycling with young children who can’t ride on their own.

How young is too young?

It is recommended that in order to ride with an adult on a bike, a child:

  • should be at least 12 months old.
  • It is important that children have good neck and head control in order to support a helmet as well as to handle the movement and bouncing motions during the ride. If you’re not sure if your child is old enough to ride with you, check with your health care provider.

Seat, trailer or tag-a-long?

Child bicycle seats

Child seats come in different varieties and are most often attached to the rear rack of a bicycle. Follow manufactures instructions surrounding the weight limit and use of bicycle seats.

The extra weight of a child in a bike seat can alter your centre of gravity while riding and cause you to lose your balance. You must also take extra caution when placing and removing your child from the seat.

Bicycle trailers

Bicycle trailers

A bicycle trailer is a buggy that is pulled along by an adult bicycle. Bicycle trailers, in general, are stable and not prone to tipping. Most trailers are attached by a u-joint either directly to the bike frame or the seat post. It is best to attach an orange flag to increase visibility of the trailer. These are unsuitable for high traffic situations because the child is further away, making it difficult for the parent to see and hear the child.

Tag-a-long bikes

Tag-a-long bikes

Consider a tag-a-long bike for older children who aren’t quite ready to ride by themselves for long distances.

Tag-a-long bicycles:

  • Give an adult control over steering and braking while letting children pedal.
  • Can be easily attached to an adult-size bicycle.
  • Are a fun way to cycle with kids while helping them develop basic riding skills for riding on their own.

Tips for Reducing the Chance of Injuries

  1. Ensure that your child is properly strapped into the child bicycle seat or trailer and is always using a properly fitting helmet.
  2. Stay off busy streets and follow the rules of the road.
  3. Be visible to other drivers, apply reflective tape or flags to your child bicycle seat or trailer to increase visibility.
  4. Add a mirror to your bike handle so you can monitor your child while riding.
  5. Practice riding with a trailer weighted with a heavy object to get used to driving with it before going out with your child.
  6. Never leave a child unattended in a child bicycle seat or trailer. If using a child bicycle seat never lean your bike up against an object or rely on the kickstand with your child still in the seat.
  7. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions surrounding the weight limits and use of your child bicycle seat or trailer.
  8. Avoid loose clothing or blankets that could get caught in the spokes of the bicycle or trailer wheels. Children often will be cooler than the cyclist. Be sure to dress them appropriately.
  9. Avoid snacks while in motion; instead take frequent breaks to reduce the risks of choking.

SafeKids Canada

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