Taking baby for a spin: how to bike safely

December 12, 2014

Want to take baby for a spin? Carrying a child on a bicycle requires special equipment, like a child seat or trailer. It also requires that the rider to be confident and comfortable on a bike and is aware of his or her riding conditions.

Taking baby for a spin: how to bike safely

What you need to know to do it safely

So you want to take baby for a spin? If you haven't ridden a bike in years or haven't ridden much in the city where you live, this might not be the time to hop astride a fixed gear with your tyke. You want to be an experienced cyclist who is well acquainted with the rules of the road.

  • While there are no Canadian federal guidelines for cycling with children, most sources recommend your child be at least 12 months of age. There are also people who think you should never ride a bike with a child, but Statistics Canada reports that no children under the age of four died from being on a bike with their parents from 2001 to 2007.

Equip the bike

So you already have a bike because you're an experienced cyclist. The next thing you need to do is get a baby bike seat or a bicycle trailer. The trailers are generally considered safer. Low to the ground, they reduce the danger of a serious fall. You can also load and unload them yourself, whereas the seats usually require two people – one to hold the bike and one to manage the child.

  • The main problem with the bike seats is that they cause the bike to become more unstable. When you get off of it, the weight of the seat and the child can make it topple over unless you're holding on tight.
  • If you do decide to go with a bike seat, buy a sturdy one and have it professionally installed. Make sure it has a high back, spoke guards, and hefty straps that will support a sleeping child. Also consider an integrated model with a special frame so that you can easily take the seat on and off.
  • If you purchase a trailer, get one with a ball and socket joint where the bike and trailer meet. This prevents the trailer from tipping over if the bike does. Also make sure you have a tall flag to increase visibility.

Equip the tyke

Baby, of course, must always have a helmet, as should you. Bring your child to a bike store and have a sales person help fit a helmet to your child.

  • Make sure the helmet is labelled that it meets Snell, ANSI, or CPSC safety requirements.
  • The helmet should be snug and not be able to be pulled in any direction so that it comes off.

Where to bike

If you can find routes with bike lanes, then that's the way to go. You also might want to consider more roundabout routes that avoid busy roads and hazards such as underpasses.

Don't underestimate how nervous you might be when you first get on the road with your child.

  • Take it slow and start somewhere with little traffic that's familiar to you.

Soon, even those crazy fixed gear people will be casting you admiring looks.

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