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June 1999 We've tried three different ways: (1) trailer; (2) rear bike seat; (3) front bike seat. (1) The trailer is very stable, and is safe if you fall (the baby won't) and doesn't add too much difficulty to steering. The significant drawbacks are that cars may not always see the trailer; the child sits closer to the exhaust pipes of the of cars; extra weight to tow. (2) Rear bike seats are lighter, but the baby falls with you if you fall, and the extra weight in back may make your bike a little harder to maneuver. Other drawbacks: If you wear a backpack, the backpack will be in the baby's face. When the baby wears a helmet (get one at Target, Toys 'R' Us, etc. Fisher Price makes some), she may be uncomfortable with the high back seat pushing against the helmet, pushing her head forward. (3) Front bike seats are harder to find, weigh about the same as the rear seat, may make the bike a little easier to maneuver than the rear bike seat since the baby's weight sits on the handle bars (essentially). We actually like this one the best. I can keep an eye on her since she's in front of me, and it's easier for me to interact with her and talk to her, and make sure she doesn't take off her helmet. The biggest drawback is that, depending on the design of the seat, you may have to alter your peddling to avoid hitting the seat with your knees. This is the most enjoyable for our daughter, but I wouldn't recommend this for very long bike rides, or rides up steep hills because of the knee thing. We bought ours from this company: http://www.leisuresports.com/. You can call for a local distributor. A note about helmets - make sure you get your baby used to the helmet before you go out. It'll save a lot of stopping when you're on the road.
We also carted our son around in a Burley trailer for a while. I think trailers are safer overall, and maybe a better deal in the long run, than baby-on-back-of-bike seats. They'll hold twice as much weight, the bike is much more stable, and the kid is a little better protected; they're also good for other cargo, like groceries, long after the kid's too big to ride in them. Of course, they can tip, too: on our daughter's first trailer trip, I took a corner too tight, clipped a curb, and tipped the damn thing over; again, she was displeased, but she wasn't hurt.
In Berkeley, my favorite shop is Velo Sport, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way; Missing Link is also good, and REI, though I think REI usually has the worst prices of the three.
Thoughts on: Biking with baby: My husband and older son rode all over North Berkeley together for several years, starting at about 18 months, with my son riding in a Burley trailer. The trailer is very easy to use, very stable, and probably safer than a seat on the back: (1) it will stay upright even if the bike falls, which a frame-mounted seat will not; (2) people can see a trailer from far off and so tend to be more careful when driving by. The trailer also allows a child to look at books, play with small toys, have a drink, or figit a little while riding, which makes it easier to go longer distances. The real obstacle was the helmet at first; once my son got used to that, he did fine. The trailer is not cheap, but sometimes you can find them used. We will grow out of ours in a year or so; my second son is now four, and loves the rides (now in Orinda) but is getting a bit big for it.
The other day I saw an interesting sight. A woman was riding a bicycle with a child seat on the back. The child riding in back was pre-talking age but was fussing rather noisily which caused me to take notice. It seems the woman (mom?) riding the bike had a backpack on her back and the bulge of the backpack was rubbing back and forth across the baby's face, which was obviously irritating to the child. I don't think the woman was aware that the pack was even touching the baby and she rode by so fast I din't get a chance to say anything. So, bike riders with babies on back...be aware that your backpack may right in the baby's face.
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