If you’re passionate about cycling, you’re probably looking for ways to share your passion with your children. A great way to do this is to carry them with you on cycling trips, showing them the world from a great new perspective and giving them a head start on learning about safety while riding. It can be difficult to decide just how or where to place children on a bike, especially if you have reservations about safety or logistics.
At all4cycling we are dedicated to improving the experience of all cyclists – and children are no exception! Our Ultimate Guide to Kids Carrying Kids on Your Bike gives you everything you need to know about cycling with kids of any age.
Safety is always the first priority. Start by making sure your children have comfortable, certified helmets that fit them properly.
Whatever way you fit kids to your bike, ensure you are at ease with the way child carriers/bike add-ons will change the handling of the bike. Practice in a park or on quiet streets to build confidence before heading out onto busier roads.
If you haven’t already, invest in lights, reflectors, flags and bright/fluro decorations and clothes to make you, your children and your bike as visible as possible. Always use designated bike lanes, avoid peak traffic and keep an eye out for hazards on the road.
Your children do what you do. Following the law and using the right signals will help your children understand bike etiquette and safety protocols, making them more likely to adopt the practices when they begin to ride on their own.
Community and bonding
One of the great things about cycling with kids is the closeness and unique quality time spent with them. Great observers, children will narrate their journey, describing what they see, smell, hear and feel along the way – something they can’t do as well in a car. Especially for young ones, this is great for development and mental stimulation.
Riding with you will help your children become more familiar with their surroundings and more emotionally connected to both you and your neighbourhood.
There are a number of things to take into consideration when choosing how to transport your children with you when you cycle. These include:
- How many children you have (this woman is a hero)
- The age of your children
- The condition or type of bike you ride
- Where/how far you typically cycle
- If you need/want to carry other things, such as bags or groceries
Think about these items and consult a professional when buying/installing carriers and accessories for your bike. One item you might want to consider is a double kickstand, which makes it easier to place tots on bikes, especially if you have younger children. Keep in mind where you’ll be going and what you’ll be doing. Your child/ren may need snacks and/or things to keep them entertained on a longer trip.
Anna Fahey from Sightline Daily says, “A set-up where you can carry kids and stuff is essential for just about any biking mom or dad. Every parent knows that you don’t go anywhere with small children without plenty of provisions. And if you want to do your grocery shopping and other errands with kids in tow, a tough bike, solid wheels, and extra cargo space becomes even more important. More than two kids? You probably need a special set-up!”
Types of seats and set-ups
No matter how many children you have or how old they are, you’ll be able to find the right solution for you, your kids and your bike. We’ve outlined a few ideas here:
The front seat
Typically placed on the handlebars and between your arms, a front seat is great for children between 1 and 3. Kids will love being able to talk and interact with you, while they’re driving “their bike”. There are a few safety advantages here:
- Being able to see your child at all times
- Anticipating weight shifts and naps, then being able to accommodate for that
- The ride is less jarring for the child
However, it is important to make sure the seat is adequately prepared for naps (head and neck stability etc.) and to be able to adjust to riding with more weight and a different centre of gravity.
The rear seat
The typical kid-carrying contraption, the rear seat is generally for kids aged 3-5. With bigger kids and rear seats, make sure your bike is sturdy enough to handle any extra weight placed on it.
A bike trailer attaches to the rear of the bike and is towed behind. These come in a number of sizes to accommodate one or two children up to around age 12. Children are close to the ground and protected from the elements, though be sure to make the trailer is easily visible to other road-users. A downside of these is that can’t see your child/ren and may not be able to hear them in loud and distracting areas.
These work best for older children, especially if they are learning to cycle themselves. Kids will be able to feel how the bike moves, plus learn pedalling and balancing skills. Clip-on bikes are generally attached to the rear frame of a bike, such as under a seat, and allow for great manoeuvrability.
A Dutch Bakfiets
If you want to go all-out, these Bakfiets are a head-turner! A stable wooden box is placed between two wheels and can accommodate up to four children, all with seatbelts.
These are of the same idea as the Bakfiets, but are plastic and sit in the rear. Optional rain covers can be included. The alleged record on their website is seven children in one bucket – there are two bench seats and four lap belts.
It’s all up to you
Everyone has their own views on children on bicycles. Consult experts on whichever method of child transport you choose, and make sure you feel comfortable with the added weight and responsibility. The top rule is: have fun! You will enjoy the unique interaction with your kids and they will enjoy the breeze and the sights around them.
Do you ride with your children or have any other ideas about doing so? Tell us about it in a comment below. Keep an eye out for next month’s post about teaching children to ride their own bike – they’ll soon be following you!