Author Topic: Biking with Baby  (Read 4816 times)

Kirstin

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Biking with Baby
« on: April 12, 2015, 02:51:04 PM »
I have a 16 month old and we're expecting another baby in August. Now that the snow is finally gone from Edmonton I want to try out a child trailer I got used. It's a double wide and I can get an infant sling for it to fit children under 1. My question is, what is your experience pulling smaller babies? Our city guidelines say to wait until one year in a trailer and wear a helmet, but my brief research has told me that pulling a smaller baby in a secure sling is probably safer than driving them places.

Gin1984

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Re: Biking with Baby
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2015, 03:04:43 PM »
I'd like to see that research.

WhatIsFrugalAfterAll

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Re: Biking with Baby
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2015, 03:36:39 PM »
Well, if your speed limit is 35 mph...

Get hit by another car in your car, get a dent.

Get hit by another car in your bike (especially rear ended in your trailer), baby is dead.

I would use a trailer anyway for health and enjoyment reasons, but I would not kid myself into saying bike is safer.

abhe8

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Re: Biking with Baby
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2015, 03:37:45 PM »
With the august baby? I would wait until spring. The 16 month old could ride in the trailer now. They're are website and blogs of people biking with infants in the winter, but does not seen like a smart idea to me.

Learner

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Re: Biking with Baby
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2015, 09:07:40 PM »
I haven't seen a trailer where you can put "appropriate" protection into, but there are options that can fit infant car seats.  Our youngest will be 12 months before we start taking him anywhere, but I think we could have chosen some options for our Bakfiets that would have let him go in a bit earlier.  I think some of the Chariots *might* have this option, I know our trailer did not.

That said, the kids are pretty screwed if we get hit by a car.  We consider it a measured risk where the benefits are well worth it.  When I ride, especially with the kids (on the commuter/trailer setup), I have a safety vest with flashing LEDs, front/rear lights, reflective tape on the front/rear of the bike.  The trailer has an extra rear light, and I strung rope lights on it, so it's literally lit up like a Christmas tree.

darkadams00

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Re: Biking with Baby
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2015, 10:05:15 PM »
Our city guidelines say to wait until one year in a trailer and wear a helmet, but my brief research has told me that pulling a smaller baby in a secure sling is probably safer than driving them places.

This leads me to believe that you're considering "utility" biking on local streets and not just "recreational" biking on park paths.

I always respect and defend parental choice even when I don't like the choice that's being made. With that said, be extremely conscious of the parameters and the risks of this decision. Don't make this choice because of an Internet article or someone's opinion on this forum, even though many of us here avidly support biking. Make this decision carefully for yourself. And for the record, a student I taught years ago lost an infant daughter at 14 months--riding in a car, baby in fastened car seat. The young mother was tired after a late night, heading to daycare at 5am, and pulled out in front of a Dodge truck going 45mph, a speed allowed in most suburban areas. Driver error pure and simple, and the error was the mother's. Hard to live with. I know the family well.

Ask yourself this question and see how you respond--If you were rear-ended, and your baby died, would you still feel you made the right decision?

Rear-end and other car/bike accidents are not as common as non-riders assume. But the potential loss is much higher for the baby than the bike rider. I can't stop, turn, or dodge as quickly with a trailer. Also, if I am rear-ended by a vehicle at a reasonable speed, I might be thrown clear after impact. A child trailer will be destroyed. Furthermore, if you are riding at a time when you feel that lights on the bike/trailer would be helpful, then you are statistically increasing the likelihood of an incident--dark being one of the leading factors in car/bike incidents that is not correlated to rider stupidity, e.g. alcohol, riding the wrong way, etc.

I am willing to ride in traffic that non-riders feel is unsafe. I am willing to ride in traffic that my bike-commuting wife feels is unsafe for her to ride. My safety expectations for pulling a child trailer would be much higher than any of those--lower posted speeds, lower traffic volume, etc. Why? Because even in my mostly bike-friendly suburban town, drivers make mistakes that I'm willing to face myself but unwilling to subject my child to. I can't answer my own posted question in the affirmative outside of a two-mile radius surrounding my home/neighborhood. Posted speeds = 25mph, traffic volume is 2-3 cars passed per mile.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2015, 10:11:34 PM by darkadams00 »

Retire-Canada

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Re: Biking with Baby
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2015, 09:18:43 AM »
I have a 16 month old and we're expecting another baby in August. Now that the snow is finally gone from Edmonton I want to try out a child trailer I got used. It's a double wide and I can get an infant sling for it to fit children under 1. My question is, what is your experience pulling smaller babies? Our city guidelines say to wait until one year in a trailer and wear a helmet, but my brief research has told me that pulling a smaller baby in a secure sling is probably safer than driving them places.

We are programmed to believe cars are safer than bicycles. So take all the fearful replies with a grain of salt.

The key to safe cycling is selecting good routes.

Teaching your kids [by example] that a human being can actually get around in the world under its own power and doesn't have to spend every moment doing it afraid for its life is a powerful lesson.

I know lots of car-free and car-lite families. It's a beautiful thing to see them get stuff done on bikes.

-- Vik


vhalros

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Re: Biking with Baby
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2015, 09:41:54 AM »
The Dutch actually do crash testing of child trailers, but I've never been able to find an English translation of the results. You have more motivation to do so than me, so it might be worth looking into.  Some trailers have roll cages, and they are mostly all low to the ground,  and stable on two wheels, so my guess would be a child in one is actually safer than you are on the bicycle. Whether that is "safe enough" is down to your judgement.

At the very least I'd wait until the little one could hold his head up, and be very careful with route selection.

Gin1984

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Re: Biking with Baby
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2015, 09:47:42 AM »
The Dutch actually do crash testing of child trailers, but I've never been able to find an English translation of the results. You have more motivation to do so than me, so it might be worth looking into.  Some trailers have roll cages, and they are mostly all low to the ground,  and stable on two wheels, so my guess would be a child in one is actually safer than you are on the bicycle. Whether that is "safe enough" is down to your judgement.

At the very least I'd wait until the little one could hold his head up, and be very careful with route selection.
If you post a link to one, I may be able to get a translation via my university. 

darkadams00

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Re: Biking with Baby
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2015, 08:48:10 PM »
We are programmed to believe cars are safer than bicycles. So take all the fearful replies with a grain of salt.
Generalize much? I have known almost three dozen people personally who died in cars. I bike almost every day. But to suggest one should not fully consider pros and cons from both sides is ludicrous. Ask yourself hard questions, be honest with your answers, and then own your decisions. Don't take either side with a grain of salt. Give each side full consideration. It's your life and your children, not someone's on this forum.

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Teaching your kids [by example] that a human being can actually get around in the world under its own power and doesn't have to spend every moment doing it afraid for its life is a powerful lesson.
And a totally meaningless lesson for infants and toddlers described by the OP. My younger son was a teen when I started utility biking regularly. Since then he has foregone buying a car and its related expenses in favor of a bike/transit combo that has allowed him to pile up a five-figure savings account. I think my example has taught him a lesson in time for him to actually use it. That's not a lesson that's critical or even important to a kid under 5.

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I know lots of car-free and car-lite families. It's a beautiful thing to see them get stuff done on bikes.
We're car-lite with one car, five bikes, and three eligible drivers. Utility biking is not as beautiful as cruising around in a Porsche, but it sure is a lot of fun. (Okay, I admit I'm just poking fun at the dramatic use of "beautiful" here.)

With all that said, I am an avid utility biker and deal with family/friend/coworker fear often. Just like dealing with wearing helmets and hi viz gear and using the brightest lights. Think about it. Research. Decide. And move on.



markbrynn

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Re: Biking with Baby
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2015, 04:00:20 AM »
If you're worried about the safety of the trailer system, then you could always look to getting seats for your kids on your bike (may need a change of bike to facilitate). I'm another one of those people who refer to how things are done in the Netherlands, so I will mention that thousands of Dutch parents have kids attached on the front or back of their bikes (and often both front and back). Kid typically needs to be about 8-9 months to start (able to hold head up).

You can even fit 3 kids if you want to really go for it...


Kirstin

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Re: Biking with Baby
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2015, 04:41:16 PM »
Wow I didn't check this for a while! I completely forgot about this post and apparently didn't think to have replies sent to me! Thanks for all the concern everyone. I should have clarified that I don't ride on the street. I am blessed with many 'multi-use trails' in my area that are designed to be share by pedestrians and cyclists. I only take my daughter on the street for the couple of residential blocks it takes me to access the trails.

I'd just really like to avoid driving places now that I have a little baby again and walking is still an option but it's SO much slower and more time consuming. Which those of you with children will know is more than just a minor inconvenience because you have to bring along enough stuff to occupy them and keep them fed and dry for even longer.

I don't ride that fast and we have a really nice trailer that pretty much can't tip and has a roll bar. It's considered safe to use as a jogging stroller for infants, is biking on a relatively flat paved trail really that different?