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Biking with Babies & Toddlers

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > What/Where to Buy > Biking with Babies & Toddlers


Questions & Advice Related Pages

2010 - 2013 Recommendations


Front or rear mount baby bike seat?

May 2013

We are in the market for a baby bike seat in order to take our baby to and from daycare and have been considering both front and rear mounted bike seats. Does anyone have a recommendation for why one would be better than the other? We have looked briefly at bike trailers but I feel somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of a trailer in traffic.


Hi, we debated about that too, and we decided to do the rear mount. We started taking our daughter in the bicycle when she was almost two, and that worked well. Front mountings might work well too for younger babies, but then she'll outgrow it. The back mount feels safe and stable to me. We've been using for over a year now and we like it. She can perfectly see to the sides, so she's not missing on anything. Like any weight on a bike, I think the weight in the back is more stable than in the front. Hope that helps! Carolina
Hi, I have used both seats extensively as I commute by bike and used to do so with my kids (they ride their own bikes now, yeah!).

Personally, I much preferred the front mount because it was so much more stable-the rear mount wobbles a lot. I loved having my child right near me an found it much easier to talk to her. It can be tricky to find the right bike-many complain of bumping knees or feeling crowded. An upright bike works best. Another advantage to the front mount is the flexibility to bring paniers on the rear. You can't attach the bike bags with the ear seat.

I recommend trying both if you can and see what works for you. Good luck! Biking Mama


Custom tow hitch from adult to child's bike

Dec 2012

I need to be able to tow my son's 20in bike behind (or next to) my bike without him on it, and I'm wondering if there is a product out there that will do this or someone who can make one? As it is, I've stopped riding my bike to work because I don't have a way to get him home from afterschool if he doesn't have his bike with him. Any recommendations? want to ride my bike to work again


Yes, there is such a product: http://www.trail-gator.com/ happy biking

Bicycling with baby and urban road rules

Sept 2012

We just bought a bike trailer so we can bring our baby with us on rides and I'm wondering what the concensus is on road rules. We usually ride in busy urban areas and it seems like not the best idea to ride the way we usually do with the baby in the trailer. One specific example is crossing traffic to get into the left turn lane to turn with the cars. I would prefer to join up with the sidewalk at busy intersections and ride in the crosswalk to make a left turn, but so far I have gotten two conflicting opinions on this. Do other people follow the same urban biking rules when traveling with a little one? I want to be safe and follow applicable rules/laws/practice. Thanks. wants to keep baby safe


I don't know what ''urban road rules'' you're talking about, as I don't observe very many bicycle riders following any rules at all. But I urge you not to ride your bike, with or without bike trailer, through any crosswalks. Please walk it instead. Car drivers are expecting pedestrians in crosswalks, not moving vehicles. They do not see them quickly enough and it is very dangerous for you and your child. Please walk your bicycle through crosswalks
I would not ride your bike on the cross walk. I think it is unfair to the pedestrians and I believe technically against the rules. I think if you are worried about the safety of crossing traffic on your bike with a baby, just get off your bike and walk it across the cross-walk. I know that is always what I did when I wanted to get to the other side of the street and did not feel comfortable merging with traffic on my bike. anon
I haven't ridden with a trailer, but I do ride with my daughter on a bike seat, and I think the best way to keep you and your child safe is to be predictable to nearby drivers, which means following the standard rules for bicyclists. So, for a left turn, you should move into the left turn lane, as usual. For any intersection where that doesn't feel comfortable, stay to the right, hop off your bike at the corner, and become a pedestrian--then you can follow the rules for a pedestrian and take advantage of any crosswalks. But riding your bike along a crosswalk sends mixed signals to drivers about what kind of thing you are (cyclist or pedestrian), what you are going to do next, and who has the right of way. Creating confusion is definitely not the way to promote safety. --hop off for pedestrian rights
If you're going to use the crosswalk to navigate busy intersections with bike and baby, please dismount and WALK, don't ride, your bike through the crosswalk.

The California Vehicle Code treats bicycles as vehicles, and as a motorist and cyclist myself, I cringe every time I see a cyclist magically transform from vehicle in a travel lane to supposed ''pedestrian'' in a crosswalk, simply by riding through. (No motorist would get away with driving their car into the cross walk because it was convenient.)

Otherwise, put a big orange flag on your trailer, and use the turning lanes as a vehicle. bike rider myself


Bike trailer on BART

Aug 2012

Has anyone had experience with using a bike trailer on BART? If so, were you able to get the bike and trailer into the elevator at the station? Was it difficult to find the train that wasn't too crowded to take the bike and trailer on? How did the other riders respond to you? Biking mama


My son and I tried taking a bike trailer on BART and it was really difficult. Many of the elevators are too small to fit both the bike and the trailer. So we (a 5'4'' momma and 7 year old son) were carrying the bike and trailer up and down stairs.

I'm not sure what route you'll be taking but check out the elevators ahead of time to make sure everything fits. Biking Momma


I hope you are planning your trips very much outside of commute times!!!! Bikes take up a lot of space on BART, and most, but not all bike commuters work hard to minimize their impact on other riders. Adding a trailor will mean you're taking the space of 5 or 6 people, and would not have any ability to minimize your impact. As a daily BART commuter my reaction would be severe unhappiness. Why not get an attachment seat for your child? At least then you would be able to use BART without having such a big impact. I can't speak to whether your set up would fit on the elevators, but most are pretty small. Daily BART commuter
We recently did this and it wasn't a great experience. My husband and I each had a bike and trailer. we went in different cars but even at 8am on a Sat morning when the train was pretty quiet I felt uncomfortable with how many people I bumped off of and some of the looks I got (perhaps people would be more sympathetic if I had kids not camping gear in the trailer - not sure - though I did have a 3 year old on a bike seat too at that time). It takes up a HUGE amount of space on the train. Most BART elevators cannot handle a bike and trailer, Ashby can, but the older stations can't. So you'll need to detach the trailer to get up the elevator and then you have the problem if you are alone with leaving one item alone at concourse and street level while you go back for the second item. On our way home on Sun afternoon when we knew that the trains would be crowded we opted to just ride the whole way instead. None of the BART attendants or the driver said anything to us about bringing a trailer on. Can't say I'll never do it again but I would only do when I have NO other options. like to bike too
Trailers are harder to take on BART than the other options, but it can be done. When you get in the elevator you lift up your front wheel so your bike is standing vertically on it's back wheel, then pull the trailer in behind you.

If you have a Burley or other trailer with a hinge near the bracket, once you're on the train, you can kind of fold the bike onto the trailer and fit into one of the bike spaces or in front of one of the bench seats near the door.

The advantage of the trailer is kids can nap in them and be protected from rainy weather, but otherwise a bike seat is easier to use on transportation, can also be taken on the bus.

I also recently just took a longtail bike (xtracycle) on BART, and it was not too bad either. Just have to stand it on the back wheel in the elevator.

As long as you avoid the really busy commute times, I think it's doable to take any of the kid hauling bike setups on BART. Bike Commuters


Biking with my 2 year old--what product to use?

Feb 2012

I'd like to use my bicycle more and my car less for errands and whatnot, and I have a baby seat on the back of my bike that my 2 year old daughter rides in and enjoys. My problem is that getting even a few groceries while I'm out is uncomfortable because I have nowhere to put them but in a backpack, and then the pack is inches from my daughter's nose. So--I'm thinking of new options. The top of my list is a bike trailer, but I'd like to hear more about safety considerations in traffic considering that the trailer runs so far behind the bike and so low to the ground (like, have you ever heard of a car clipping the trailer??? That freaks me out. I live in El Cerrito, BTW--not SF, so it's pretty tame riding). Also, do you think it would be more comfortable/safer getting one of those bike seats that go over the front wheel, and then panniers over the back wheel for carting supplies? Or are there other options that I haven't touched on? I'm hoping that there are some biking experts out there who can help with recommending a riding configuration as well as some good brands/models!


We live in El Cerrito as well and I bike a lot with my kids and have since they were small....we have a dutch cargo bike a'bakfiets' which hlds a lot and is fun but also heavy andexpensive... The I have a Zigo bike..which is not quite as expensive and sometimes you can find them on craigslist..it has the trailer in the front and I have a basket in back and pannier bags so I can schlepp a lot of groceries... Astrid
I've heard great things about the Xtracycle. I'm hoping to try this once we're able to take our kid on the bike. They have several set-ups for carrying both cargo and kids, plus the kid is on a seat right behind you, rather than a trailer. I totally agree that trailers scare me in traffic! Though I do see a fair amount of them and have yet to hear any horror stories. Anyway, I'd check out the Xtracycle site and see if they have something that looks like a good fit for you. They're also local which is a plus! Bike fan
If you do some reseach on bicyclist discussion boards and the like, you will find some intense disagreements about whether bike-mounted seats or trailers are safest for toting kids. The data is scarce and subject to interpretation. But I personally find the arguments for trailers far more persuasive and would not allow my children to ride in a bike-mounted seat. Trailers are extremely visible and car drivers tend to give them *more* room than they do single bicyclists, and even if a car did 'clip' a trailer, the trailer -- unlike a rider on a bike -- will most likely *not* flip over. Kids don't fall out of trailers, but it's ridiculously easy to fall off of the top of a bike, especially when the bike has been rendered top-heavy by the addition of the mounted seat and the child's own weight. Falls in a minor accident (bike wheel hitting a groove in the pavement or a rock) are *much* more common than bike-car collisions, and young kids can so easily be seriously injured by a fall from the height of a bike seat. A seat affects the rider's balance *far* more than does a trailer, and mounting/dismounting without dropping the kid is difficult -- whereas if you're using a trailer, you can safely load child and groceries first and then mount the bike without having to balance the extra weight at the same time.

That said, front-mounted seats probably are safer than rear-mount (though they can interfere with pedaling), and something like a Bakfiets or Xtracycle which has the child seats designed and built into the frame of the bike is probably safer than a separately mounted accessory seat. And trailers do have their risks; the motion may be more jarring to the neck and spine (one reason that babies should not ride on bikes nor in bike trailers at all), and the passenger may be affected by dust/grit or noise. Also, you need more space to maneuver and to park, and more storage space at home, if you're using a trailer.

But still, where are you going to carry your groceries? A trailer offers the huge advantage of cargo space, for using your bike as daily transportation for shopping and other errands. So I say, go for the trailer; make sure it's a respected brand (e.g., Chariot or Burley, not the cheap knockoffs you might get at Target or Walmart), that the cover is BRIGHT yellow or green, and that you always use flags and reflectors, and lights if you ride at night, dawn or dusk. Happy biking!


Bike trailers are by far the safest way to bike with your child. They don't affect your center of gravity and minimally affect the handling of the bike. Use the 6 foot flag and it'll be noticed. Getting hit by a car is a concern, but I find with the trailer cars give me a w-i-d-e berth -- much more so then when I'm just on my bike. It's easy to overlook how much more common it is to simply wipe out, which can create some pretty significant injuries if the child is in a bike seat and you're moving. With a trailer, if the bike falls the kid is fine -- they're designed not to tip over. It's also glorious how much you can hold in a trailer. I have a small one-kid trailer (Burley Solo) and can easily fit two bags of groceries in the little 'trunk' space. As for which brand -- I got mine of Craigslist for way cheap, and had a bike genius neighbor check it over. Craigslist usually has at least a few for sale. Hands down, go for the trailer. biker chick

Baby bike seats and trailers

Jan 2012

Looking for recent recommendations on front- and rear-mounting baby bike seats and trailers. Would like to know experiences with or reasoning on choosing one vs. the other and recommendations of specific brands. Thanks. biking mama


We have been using the rear mounted Yepp Maxi seat for almost a year for commuting and it's been great. It's an attractive seat compared to most kids' seats, is mounted high enough for our toddler to look around and enjoy the ride, and is very safe. I love that its surface is more pliable than most seats, thus making it comfier for our kid to ride. He LOVES riding on this thing and we have really loved it. It's easy to slide the seat on and off and you can also lock the seat to the mount when you're out running errands. My only issue with the seat is that I wish it came with a chest clip. We actually sewed one on just for my own piece of mind. Biking Family
This question has been asked before (and I have responded to it, as have others with differing opinions). That said, my standard response has changed over the years. We live on a busy street in the hills and I would not use a trailer there. Too low down and harder for cars to notice. However, there are many places where parents might feel more comfortable with a trailer, and it may take less bike handling skills to handle a trailer (unless you're going through narrowly spaced posts on bike trails). We used a rear seat with both our children. At the time, the model was called the Rhode Gear Taxi. It's still being made but by Blackburn. Francesca

Options for biking with a 4 year old

June 2011

I would like to hear from experienced family bicyclists on options for biking with my 4 year old son. I've seen the Adams trail-a-bikes and tandems, and would love recommendations and hear pros-and-cons of each. I've been searching the web for answers, but have not found much. Also, I would love to hear Brands I could research. Many Many Thanks. We want to go and ride! heather


It's great that you are considering biking with your family! I started riding with my son when he was 4, too. He's pretty independent, though, and was always bored and unhappy in the Burley Trailers and even on the trail a bike, which I bought used off of BPN. The Trail Gator, a clever system similar to the trail a bike hooks your son's bike to your bike. The benefit is that your son can ride his own bike until he gets tired or on flatter terrain but get a break by connecting to your bike when needed. Not only is he on his own bike but he has the opportunity to ride independently. I noticed when my son was on the trail a bike, he often paid no attention to the ride and moved around a lot (which is manageable but annoying). I highly recommend the Trail Gator over the Trail a Bike. As for rides, I recommend starting with short, fun rides. We would often break-up the ride with lots of snack breaks or stops at various parks/fun sights. Build the mileage and difficulty as you go and before you know it, your son will be a skilled rider! IMO, riding with your son is one of the best things you can do with him. It's a great form of transportation and exercise - not to mention lots of fun! another heather

Best bike for pulling toddler uphill in trailer?

April 2011

does anyone pull kids up into the hills with a bike trailer? About to hitch up a double trailer to my roadbike. Would still love to hear if anyone has a setup that works great. Do you feel like you need bomber brakes? What gears do you have? (I am asking here, since I only see spandex and single commuters pedaling uphill. Most parents are either getting in a car or pushing a stroller). thanks!


Probably a combination of bike and trailer.

Trailer-wise, it might be easier to get one that attaches to the seatpost and swivels around that as opposed to attaching to the rear frame. If it swivels off the seatpost, it might help reduce resistance if you need to cut Z's back and forth on a particularly steep hill.

Bike-wise, road bike is fine unless you're riding sandy/dusty/off-road bits in which case you probably want a mountain or cross-bike. Definitely want good brakes for your eventual descent as you'll have a lot more mass. Brakes are a huge cheap upgrade (Shimano Ultegra's are phenomenal for stopping). A compact double or triple setup on your crankset is probably best since it will give you an easier granny gear combination with whatever your rear cassette gears are. Also make sure your handlebars and seat position are adjusted so you can easily get up and climb in a standing position when you need to. Stephen L


I pull my preschooler and infant uphill in a Chariot bike trailer using a Bianchi Volpe and Shimano SPD clips. I don't always clip in and can bike uphill in regular shoes. But when I am riding up steeper hills, like Euclid or the hill up to Strawberry Canyon pool, I find that clips are essential unless I am in super great shape. I think any decent road bike could get you up the hill. The Volpe is a classic touring bike which has good geometry for towing and comfortable over longer distances. If you are interested in other options, check out totcycle.com. --Bethany
I've logged literally thousands of miles with a trailer behind me and have not needed anything beyond my caliper brakes, but I was only carrying one child in a single trailer. In general, I have no concerns about stopping power--especially with a trailer, you will be able to use your front brake very strongly because you have no fear of flipping over the front wheel because of the weight behind you.

What I consider absolutely essential unless you are a pro cyclist are low gears.

A 'triple bike' with three chainrings up front are essential. You can gear down your rear cluster using mountain bike gears and have up to a 34 cog using a mountain bike rear derailleur.

On my triple bikes as the child grew heavier, I geared down my front chainrings from the stock too. Feel free to contact me for futher advice. You can also find info at www.ttoshi.net/bicycling/blog

Enjoy your riding time with your kids. My children absolutely love it and we spend lots of quality time together! Toshi


Well, I don't live in the hills, but I pull my son in a trailer every day. I'm a pretty strong cyclist, but on the few occasions that we cross the fault line I'm in my granny gear, and it ain't easy. A touring bike with a 26T granny gear would be a good bet for you. I would definitely go with the disk brakes, too. Bike dad
April 2011

Re: Child-Friendly Bike Seat Bike for short 4 yo?

I'm of the firm belief that trailers are MUCH safer and easier to use than bike mount seats, but at 4yo your child is probably getting a bit big for a typical trailer anyway. The simplest next step option is a 'trail-a-bike' where the child sits either on his own bike (with the front wheel raised off the ground) or a sort of half-bike with a pole that connects it to your bike. The towbar type that attaches the child's own bike is less expensive and more flexible to use than the half-bike style, but you have to teach your kid not to use his brakes. Search TrailGator, Trail-a-Bike, tagalong, pedal trailer, trailer cycle. There are a number of bike forums you will find when you google, where you can see some discussions of the pros and cons of the different types and brands.

Other than that, you could try an XtraCycle or a tandem bike. XtraCycle has a lot of cool options for carrying people and/or things, and it's better than a traditional tandem for riding alone, but it's pricey. Holly


Child carrier - heel free

Aug 2010

I have bought a city bike and together with it a child carrier for my 2.5 year old son (He is a pretty big boy). Although HE sits very comfortable I continuously hit his feet with my heels. Of course it has to do in some way with the construction of the bike. However, I did have a look online at other carrier constructions, but they all seem to be to close to the peddling feet when you don't sit up straight on your bike. Does this problem sounds familiar and do you know a carrier without this problem, please let me know. Thanks


Get a trailer. More manageable and versatile too, plus most experts consider them MUCH safer. Wouldn't let her kids ride in a bike-mount seat

Child bike seats: front or rear mounted?

June 2010

I'm looking for some advice about a bike seat for my 15 month old. I'm primarily interested in a front-mounted seat, and would love to hear from anyone who has used one. What brand do you have? Do you like it? Does it affect the way you pedal/steer/stop? Is there a local bike shop you recommend who sells/installs the seat? (I've tried Missing Link and Tip Top, and the both only sell rear mounted seats). Has anyone tried the Yepp Mini? I like it because it seems to have a higher back than other brands like the I-Bert. I'm open to suggestions.

I'm sort of a novice bike rider, so am looking for a seat that will affect the bike's center of gravity the least. I've been told that front mounted seats are easier to handle than rear seats in this regard, but am curious to know people's experiences with this.

We plan to ride mostly on paved trails or empty streets- please no cautionary tales or scary stories about traffic and bike accidents! Thanks.


We have the i-Bert. It is easy to mount on the bike and our 18-month old loves it. Riding is also comfortable, but the tricky part is starting and stopping. The seat comes pretty far back towards the saddle, and there isn't enough room to get off the bike behind the seat. You have to either start/stop on a curb, to be higher up, or tilt the bike side-ways... It takes some practice and really isn't trivial. Some bikes might be easier to ride, but the distance between the handle bar and the saddle is pretty similar in most adult bikes, so I think this is a general problem. For any seat: measure your bike and make sure you check the manufacturer's specification about the distance between the handle bar and saddle. You mentioned another seat with the higher back - that seems more impractical, since it might make riding harder. Oren's mom
we love our iBert. I would definitely go to a shop and get it fitted as chances are good that it will not fit on a woman's bike it you are a regular sized women (we changed the stem on mine and now it works on it). We went to roaring mouse in SF. doesn't impact the steering at all (it mounts below the steering) and I love the way I can talk to my child as we ride around and observe things. Both my kids love this seat. biking mama
As a biking mama, I highly recommend the ibert! I love it. I put my soon to turn 3 year old in the seat when she was 12 months and we've been commuting daily ever since.

With my older child, I used a rear mounted seat. It was great, too. But I prefer the front mount because I can hear/interact with my daughter and I feel I have much more control. I'm an avid biker and have good bike handling skills, but the rear mounted seat felt very wobbly, especially if I stood up to climb a hill.

Also, the front mounted seat allows for carring a trail a bike on the back and/or bike bags!

Good luck and happy riding! kris


Hi there- I am a front-mounted fan. I lived in the Netherlands for a few years after marriage/before kids and only saw front mounted seats until baby two came along and then the Mom would travel with a child in front and back.

We had front mounted seats for both of our girls from 9-months until 3 1/2 years (and then we moved to the mountains, so we pretty much stopped riding with them). They were great. Our girls even took naps in them, despite our best efforts to get them home before they fell asleep.

I did have to adjust my ride slightly. It may have been because I was riding on a bike that was too small for me. But, considering that my riding was flat and recreational, I didn't really care. It never seemed to bother my husband who was riding on the proper size bike. jan


I have the ibert seat, and have used it for about a year with my now 3 year old. I mostly love it. It did take me a little time to figure out how to negotiate the small space between my bike seat and the rear of the ibert, but now it feels fine to me. The balance is really no problem (haven't tried a rear seat, so I'm not sure how much of a difference there is). I really like having him in front of me -- we are able to have ongoing conversations about everything (as long as I'm not going up a big hill!). I'd say the only significant downside is that there's no place for his head if he falls asleep -- he just kind of plops down on the front handlebars (luckily, his helmet protects his face from smashing in!). Other downside is that it really won't fit, or fit well, on all bikes -- definitely no drop handlebars. But -- super easy (5 minutes) to install. If you'd like to come check it out, or go for a test spin, feel free to contact me -- we're in North Berkeley/Albany border. esme
My son is the same age as yours and I use a Wee Ride and love it. It is mounted on a special sort of cross bar and so it does not interfere with handling at all, nor does the seat move with the handlebars. The bike's center of gravity is the same and you can use rear-mounted panniers like normal. It's so great having the child in front, we talk about what we see, point at cars, birds, balls - I really recommend a front-mounted seat.

2007 - 2009 Recommendations


Child bike trailer for curvey roads

June 2009

Hi, We want to buy a child bike trailer. I like the usual ones - Burley, etc. But my husband is concerned about how wide they are with their two wheels. We live in the Berkeley Hills and he thinks they're too wide to be safe on our curvey roads with cars going round the corners. So he bought a BOB Ibex trailer with one wheel, and he's jammed the car seat into it. I think that's unsafe because there is no protective covering or gear, and it's impractical because there is no storage space. Never mind, the question I really want to know is: if you have a two-wheeled child bike trailer and if you ride up in the Berkeley or Oakland hills, do you feel it's safe? How does it handle the curves, and do cars have a hard time avoiding you? Thanks! - biking mama


I found the Burley Solo worked very well. Only fits 1 child so it is narrower than the typical double trailer. I found that cars were very deferential because they recognized I had a child on board. I would suggest sticking with the very obvious Burley trailer and the Burley Solo is narrow and has less wind resistance.

A second point is that the trailer has to have a windshield to protect the child from dirt and stones kicked up by the back wheel of the bike. biker dad


In a previous life, I raced for Cal and have substantial experience with the East Bay Hills. I have a one passenger Chariot Cougar. We've been up and down Tunnel Road many times.

The width of the trailer is not a problem with respect to cars because the trailer is narrower than the margin by which cars will pass. All trailers are pretty heavy, though, so you will need to have adequately low gearing to make it up the hills.

The bike + trailer combination is exceptionally stable since there is additional downforce on your rear wheel. We've gone 30+ mph on parts of Tunnel without any problems at all.

The trailer is low to the ground, the child is secured with a multi-point harness and is completely surrounded by a rollcage, so the setup is quite safe. The trailer won't tip over if you do.

Sometimes, communication is a bit difficult. So, if you need to hear ''Go faster! Daddy/Mommy'', you can use short range walkie talkies with an earbud for the puller. (former) biker daddy


Bike with seat for 5 year old?

May 2009

I would love some recommendations/advice for how to ride with my 5 year old on the same bike. We have a tag-a-long but I am not a strong rider and it feels too wobbly. My son is too big for a rear or front seat.

I recently saw a guy with two kids (maybe 3 and 6?) riding on the back of the bike- it may have been a hand-made contraption- they were seated behind him on a flat wooden surface and seemed to have a foot rest- they were holding on like motorcycle passengers. Does this ring a bell with anyone? Is it too unsafe compared to the tag-a-long? I would love some advice and recommendations on this. biker mama


Tag-A-Longs: All of the tag a longs currently available, except the Burley, are wobbly. The Burley is by far the best tag a long availabe. It turns your bike into a tandem. You need to mount a rear rack on your bike and the Burley tag a long attaches to this rack. You can mount a second rear rack on a second bike, making it possible to swap the burley between bikes in a quick manner. I have seen ten/eleven year olds ride centuries on Burley tag a longs.

Other Options: The kids you saw seated on a ''flatt wooden surface'' were most likely riding on an ''Xtracycle.'' You can read about Xtrcycles at this website: http://www.xtracycle.com/ Xtracycles are wonderful, however, I think you should try one before you invest in one. The Xtracycle is a wonderful way to convert a bicycle into utility vehicle capable of carrying all sorts of cargo, children included. They can be modified in all sorts of ways to fit your needs.

It is wonderful you are trying to get your children on the bike and are open to incoorprating cycling into the life of the family. I encourage you to join a group of like minded people, like the Grizzly Peak Cyclists. They are the only cycling group in the bay area that holds rides explicitly for parents of small children. Feel free to contact me for more information. I am a cyclist and would be happy to talk to you more. I ride with my kids! jeremiah


I think the most stable way for your child to ride is with a trailer. They should still fit in a Burley trailer for example. The benefit of the trailer is that they are very stable to ride with.

I ride on a tandem bicycle with my son, but am an experienced rider. The length is not as long as with a tag-a-long bike, so it should be a bit more stable, but it is still wobbly, especially when the child moves around in the back.

--I don't know if you have ridden your bike with a child seat in the back. If you were okay handling the bike with a child seat, then a tandem may be ok for you. If you get a tandem bike, then you may need a ''child stoker kit''. They are attached to the drive train and pedal along with you. Kids really love it. Good luck, Cycling dad


What you are looking for is an Xtracycle. My husband has one, and he rides our 6-yr old all over town on it. You can check out a video of my husband riding his xtracycle at www.houseman.org and click on the picture of him on his bike. My daughter loves riding on it. dawn
I think you're talking about me! My wife saw this post. I drop my kids off at school most days using my Xtracycle - you'd see me cruising down College Ave around 8:45am.

The Xtracyle is an extension added on to a regular bike that moves the rear wheel further back and thus gives you great kid-/cargo-hauling capacity. The company website is very informative: http://www.xtracycle.com . I bought mine at Tip-Top Bike Shop on Telegraph Ave (Temescal part of Oakland). I highly recommend Tip-Top - their deal on Xtracycles was excellent, and they can help set you up to carry a kid.

I love my Xtracycle! I am a bike nut, and the Xtracycle rides great and is easy to manage: parking it, carrying it up stairs (heavy-ish, but not awkward), putting it on a bus rack, taking it on BART, putting it up on a car rack, etc. I ruled out the trail-a-bike for the same reasons as you, and also because my commute often requires me to do all those things with my bike that I just mentioned. Justin


You probably saw one of two things:

1. a regular bike with an Xtracycle attachment on the rear: http://www.xtracycle.com/

2. a purpose built long bike, like a Kona Ute: http://www.konaworld.com/09_ute_u.cfm

Solano Ave. Cyclery is listed as an Xtracycle dealer, and Kona bikes are carried by Hank & Frank's (College Ave), and also REI I think. Dad on a bike


To the Biker Mama - describing the bike with the flat wooden surface on the back, it's called an Xtracycle! And yes, they're wonderfully safe and surprisingly easy to ride on - especially with kids.

I happen to work for Xtracycle and commute on a bike very similar. And I tote my kids around on one as well. We make a cruiser bike with the extension already attached and we make the extension that you can add onto an already existing mtn or road or hybrid bike.

We also make a kid specific seat that fits on the back for toddlers - as well as the footsies and stoker bar set-up that you described seeing. And even better is the amount of stuff you can carry in addition to two kids. Lauren


the seat you saw is called an Xtracycle. They are awesome and have many uses, including riding up to 2 passengers. Check them out at Solano Avenue Cyclery..... http://www.xtracycle.com/ Bike enthusiast

Bike Seat: Front vs. Back vs. Trailer

Sept 2008

My husband and I have finally gotten on our bikes since having kids. Now we have a 2 1/2 year old and 1 year old that we would like to take out on rides with us. We live in West Berkeley, and would be mainly biking on wide streets or paths with moderate street traffic. I am 5' with a traditional mountain bike and my husband is 6' with a cruiser. I am seriously considering the iBert seat or the Hamex Discovery front seat, anyone had any experience with these? Alternatively, an InStep Rocket or similar trailer for both of them? Any advice or product suggestions from your experience? New biking mom


Another factor you may want to consider is your bike's specs. We had to return the iBert (and got a Blackburn rear-seater) because there was not enough stem area on our bike to attach it to. Baby D
While there seems to be little or no hard evidence on the subject, pretty much every expert you ask will tell you that a trailer is the safest way to transport a child by bicycle. Bike- mounted seats, whether front or back, interfere with the adult rider's balance and range of motion, and carry a risk of very serious injury from a fall in even a minor bike accident. Trailers mean more weight to pull but don't significantly affect the rider's balance, and they almost always remain upright and unharmed no matter WHAT happens to the bike. Trailers, being large and brightly colored, are also more visible to car drivers, who tend to give them a much wider berth than they do to just a bicycle.

Trailers also give you the option of bringing two children along with one adult bicyclist, or of carting groceries or other cargo along with a child. And some of them convert easily to jogging stroller, ski trailer, or other uses -- so, more value for your money. We have an ''Equinox'' which is designed to be a multipurpose bicycle trailer and has worked well for our family; the Chariot trailers are also very popular and I know many people who absolutely love theirs. Insisted on the Trailer


We had front seats for our girls (wee riders/safety centrex)and loved them! I am a SAHM, so I could never get both girls out at the same time. If I had a do-over, I would have had front seats on both of our bikes (the wee rider takes a minute to remove) for rides together and a trailer to use when I was heading to the grocer. -anon
My wife and I clashed over this. Our ultimate compromise: bike trailer for my bike, bike seat for hers. There are pros and cons of trailers, rear seats, and front seats (and there should be advice in the archives -- I know, because I asked a similar question a year or so ago...).

Trailer: If your bike falls over, the trailer is still okay. Plus, the child can shift weight all he wants and that doesn't screw up your balance on the bike. Negatives: low to the ground and some people think this means they will be breathing in more fumes. Also, some say this means less visibility, which translates to more danger. Difficult to park sometimes.

Rear seat: Benefits: you can park your bike just like you normally would; less expensive, child is up high. Negatives: if you get hit by a car, your child goes flying, too. In a trailer, they're strapped into a safety cage.

Front seat: awesome because you can actually SEE your child at all times. Negatives: They take the brunt of wind and rain themselves.

Apparently all parents bring their own biases into which one, if anything, to get -- if you and hubby disagree, perhaps this will reassure you: I am happy with my trailer, and my wife is happy with the bike seat. (Of course, she did ask me to buy another coupling so that she could attach the trailer when she wanted. It was cheap, ten bucks. Also, the trailer is awesome for going grocery shopping in and of itself, and if you're into feeling superior, there's nothing like rolling up to Whole Foods on a bike...) kevin


Bike seat for babies

Aug 2008

I am wanting to get a bike seat for our one year old. I've heard that the kind that trail behind the bike are safer than the bike seats that get attached behind the seat. Or than the ones in which the baby faces you, which look like so much fun. Still, I would like to hear what other people's experiences have been with various bike seats. Thank You!


I have a bike trailer for my 4 year old, 36 lb daughter. It is a Burley single seater, and it is about the same width as the bike, which makes it pretty easy to maneuver. I chose it on the recommendation of my brother, who works in a bike shop. He asked, if I were in an accident, would I rather have the kid strapped to the bike or strapped into what is essentially a roll cage? I had had a bike accident some years before starting a family (I was doored), and I don't really like visualizing how that would have gone with a bike-mounted seat . The trailer hitch allows the trailer to stay upright even if the bike falls.

The downsides: Like cars with trailers, you have to take wide turns or run the risk of hitting a curb or parked car. They're heavier than a carseat.

More upsides: They carry more cargo (I put my laptop in the back of the trailer and drop my daughter off at preschool on the way to work). My daughter can have a toy or a snack during the ride (probably not an issue with a one-year-old, but they grow). The trailer has a net screen and a rain screen.

Other issues: Install a flag on the trailer for safety and a flasher if there's any chance you'll be riding at night. The trailer comes with reflective stripes. Child should wear a helmet regardless of the type of seat. Be sure your child's neck is strong enough for the helmet--12 months is marginal for this, so you might want to wait until you are sure. Also it's hard to find helmets this size. I had to visit several stores--I think we got ours at Missing Link in Berkeley. Good luck!


I think there are some archived bits on this topic, fyi. My wife has the bike seat that sits on the back of her bike, while I have a trailer. There are plusses and minuses to each: bike seat: if the bike falls, the kid falls, which is not the case with the trailer. Higher from ground, less fumes? If kid shifts weight, you feel it -- hang on! More fresh air, cooler. More sun exposure. trailer: pretty sturdy if bike falls. you're a long vehichle -- crosswalks suck when you're so long, so be careful. Good sun protection. Very warm in winter, believe it or not. Limited view. Good luck! Email me if you want to talk more. kevin

Toddlers and bike trailers

Oct 2007

My husband and I recently moved to Davis, and we love the bike trails and flat riding terrain all over town. We'd love to find a way to bike around as a family, but I have some questions about safety and logistics.

1) Which is safer, a trailer or a seat? My husband and I disagree on this: I think the trailer looks more stable, but my husband thinks the seat is safer because it would be easier for a car to hit the trailer.

2) How old should a child be to ride in either of these contraptions? Our son is 13 months old and pre-walking. I haven't seen any posts in the archives about trailer riders under 18 months.

3) Where can I find a helmet small enough for a 1-year-old? What other safety gear do we need? We would only take him out on the bike in daytime, and mostly on bike paths and low-traffic streets. Thanks for the feedback! Psyched to be cycling again


I'm not sure about the answer to your questions, but I did find some interesting information about small children and bike trailers/child carriers at the website for the Bike Helmet Safety Institute. Might be good reading for you? Check out the website: http://www.helmets.org/little1s.htm Emily
There's little hard evidence on the safety of bike-mounted seats vs. trailers, but most experts will say that in general a trailer is safer.

Most bicycle accidents -- whether a collision with a car or just a tire getting caught in a pothole -- involve the bike falling down. A child in a bike-mount seat will thus fall to the ground from a height in even the most minor accident, and can be seriously injured. And ''small'' accidents are made much more likely, as well as more severe, by the fact that the weight of the child and the seat upset the adult rider's balance.

A trailer, on the other hand, remains upright even when the bike towing it falls over. Any accident is less likely to cause serious injury to the occupant of a trailer. And the trailer has very little effect on the bicycle rider's balance.

Sure, if a car hits a trailer dead on, the trailer could be smashed. But then, if a car hits a bike, the bike is even more likely to be smashed than would be a trailer -- which is low to the ground and more likely to skid along than to fall down and get run over. A trailer is also large and brightly colored, and thus a bike with a trailer is much more visible, and drivers tend to give it more room, than a bike without a trailer. Obviously, when shopping for a trailer you want to pay attention to safety features like reflective striping, harness construction and so on, as well as to its overall size and color, weight and center of gravity.

As for how old a child should be in order to ride in a trailer, the usually given minimum is 1 year. Before then, the baby's neck and spine aren't strong enough to support a helmet, let alone cope with the amount of vibration and jolting that can be involved. I personally wasn't comfortable with my kids riding in the bike trailer until they were walking well, around 15-16 months. I have no real scientific basis for this; just instinct. I'd go younger if the bike were being used for necessary transportation, as opposed to just for fun.

You can buy a toddler sized helmet at any bike shop or sporting goods store, or at a mass merchandiser like Target. A bike store that caters to families and recreational riders is most likely to give you good advice about fit. You don't need any other special safety gear, but you do need to be aware that your child will tend to be colder than the adult rider, since he's not expending any energy, so make sure he's well bundled for the ride. And rearview mirror of some sort for the bicyclist can help in keeping an eye on the child. Insisted on the Trailer


I can't answer the safety question, but regarding the two other questions:

2. Babies can ride in trailers once they are old enough to hold their heads strongly on their own. Walking isn't an issue. Your 13 month old should be fine.

3. We bought a helmet for our one year old at the local bike shop. Ask--they had them in the back, but not on the floor. Our ToysRUs has bike helmets, but not small enough for him. Happy Biking!


Bravo! I think getting your child into biking at a young age could lead to a lifetime love! We opted for a bike trailer when our first was 12 mos, got a double, and put our second in with him when our second was 12 mos (first was them 3 1/2). It worked wonderfully and we never had any problems. It helped to try to stay on dedicated trails and to always have the orange flag posted. I've also never noticed having difficulty seeing a bike trailer when I'm driving my car. I found the bike trailer very stable and now that I ride with my 6 1/2 year old on a trailer bike, I realize how much his movements through me off balance when we're riding. The clincher for me when I was researching the same topic was when someone suggested dropping a cantelope from the height of the bike seat to simulate the child falling to the ground. Enough said.

As for bike helmets, check your local bike shop or REI. Have fun! one who's been there


We put our children in front bike seats. Our bike rides were from 2 to 5 miles. I sometimes put my children in from and rear seat when my hubby was out of town, but tried to keep them under three miles.

In the town I live now, Park City (with bike trails comparable to Davis), people do the bike trailers (i never see kids in seats...I haven't ridden my children as our bikes are currently in PODS). But, that may have to do with elevation. jan


I started using a bike trailer with my daughter when she was about a year old. I'm afraid I don't have any statistics on accidents or injuries, but I made my choice on the recommendation of my brother, who works in a bike shop and is an avid cyclist. He shared two things with me: (1) He told the story of a friend that had crashed while pulling his son in a trailer. The trailer overturned, but afterward the child demanded, ''Do it again, Daddy!'' (2) My brother also asked the question, ''If you crash, do you really want your child to be attached to the bicycle?'' A bike trailer is basically a roll cage with a seat in it, and offers a lot of protection even if the trailer overturns. They are very stable. My single trailer is only a couple inches wider than my handlebars, so generally easy to manage, except you need to make wide turns or the trailer can clip the corner. Trailers are big and (usually) yellow and with the addition of a flag for height (highly recommended) they are very visible AND driver's tend to give you a wider berth than they would a solo cyclist.

I got my daughter's helmet at Missing Link in Berkeley (the first shop I tried didn't have anything small enough, so it's probably worth calling and asking before driving all over looking for one). That and a flag should be enough to get you going.

Good luck. I've been biking my daughter to preschool and then biking to work (I have to haul the empty trailer to work and park it, so there's one downside to the trailer), and it is great to be cycling. Carrie


You should get a few posts on this -- there are ups and downs to each choice. There is past advice on this. One disadvantage -- baby can't sleep in the bike seat, but can in the trailer. kevin

Bike carrier for toddler for riding in the hills

Sept 2007

Hey all you biking moms and dads. I'm looking for advice on biking in the Berkeley hills with my 17 month old son. We live near Grizzly Peak Ave. and I would like to be able to bike down to campus or the Shattuck Ave. area and then, potentially, bike back up with groceries, etc. (or we'll take the bus). He already weighs close to 30 lbs and is over 34 in. long. A trailer doesn't seem like a good idea because I assume it will be too heavy for me to tow uphill, and I'm worried about visibility issues with inattentive car drivers. The two options I'm considering are a rear bike carrier and a front carrier. Do any of you have a carrier you really like? Where did you get it? What are the issues I need to consider? Thanks for your help.


We've got the WeeRide front carrier. Love it! We got it on Amazon for just under $45. http://www.amazon.com/WeeRide-Kangaroo-Child-Bike-Seat/dp/B000FIH0EG
Anon

Trail-a-Bike recommendations for 5-year-old?

Sept 2007

I'd like to get a Trail-a-Bike to attach to my bike for my 5-year old. I've seen many around town but know very little about them. Any suggestions on what to look for? Favored brands? Pros? Cons? Cost? What age-range are these usually meant for? Any reason not to purchase a used one? Thanks, Marian Marian


I think a good reason for not buying one is that the window for using it (4-6 years old; occasional weekend rides) is too short to justify the expense. Sure it looks like fun, but by age 5, most kids are riding fine with no training wheels on their own. -- riding our own bikes together
We have a Co Pilot by Kent bought second hand and love it and used it from ages 3 to 6. It has one gear so the kid can help you push up the hills, no brakes so you, not the kid, are in control of stopping. We got a second hitch so my wife could trade off. Now that our boy is 8 it is for sale...look for our listing in the for sale BPN.

Front Mounted Baby Bike Seat for Toddler

July 2007

I am thinking of getting a front mounted seat for my toddler on my bike. I checked old postings and there was only one message from 2002. I'm hoping design has changed and improved since then. Has anyone had experience, good or bad, with a front mounted seat? Is it hard to reach the handlebars around your child if you are an average sized woman (5'4'')? Any other impediments to riding comfortably? Where did you get your seat? Finally, anyone out there have a seat that they are ready to get rid of for a fair price? Thanks for any information. holly


I got a bobike mini off of ebay and my 1 year old son loves it. I tend to ride with him slow on the berkeley bike streets where there is negligible traffic. One thing to note is that it won't fit the stem of some newer bikes. My wife's cannondale has a stem that is too big for the mounting bracket so we put a rear seat on her bike.

I can't tell you if your arms would fit around it since I'm pretty tall. I was initially concerned that my knees would hit the seat but I found that since I'm going slow anyways that I just adjust my peddling accordingly. A great addition to the front seat is one of those jellibells that your kid can spin. Alex


We have 'wee riders' for both of our children (tall 4 & 2 year olds). Our eldest has been using it since 11 months. I am 5'10'' and my husband is 6-foot, so I can't speak to your height issue. I can reach the handle bars without difficulty, but my knees have to flex outward a bit to accommodate the seat. jan
The only one that is widely available is called the Weeride and it is available from target.com (not in the stores). It only costs about 0. I think you have to have a ''boy'' bike for the bar to sit on. My daughter and I like it. Reaching the handlebars is not a problem at all. The only inconvenience is that you may have to stick your knees out a little bit. You get used to it. Especially for a younger toddler, I think it is a lot better than the back seat. anon

Bike trailers and babies

May 2007

Can any cyclists share their experience with bike trailers? How old was your baby/child when you started using it? What routes in the Berkeley/Oakland area did you take? How long/far did you bike with your baby/child in the trailer? Did you ever get hit by a car? I'm interested in hearing how others biked with their babies in tow. Thank you. AM


I've used a trailer with my kids.. I wouldn't start before 6 months at least. 1) they have to be able to hold their head's up fairly well just to support the extra weight of the helmet and 2) all that bouncing can not be good for their spines.

I try to avoid rush hour when I ride. It just isn't worth it to me for one stressed out driver to be drinking the starbucks coffee on their cell phone shaving/applying make up to then sneeze or something and not see us and hit my kid or me. Walk, take the bus, or stay off the main roads.

Otherwise it can be great... Another alternative is the cool bike seats where the child sits on the front of the bike and can see, and not have to look at your rear-end... But the one advantage of the trailer (along with the child being able to keep some toys/blankie/books at hand) is that if your bike goes down the trailer is perfectly safe. biker mama


we started using the trailer and bike rack seat when my son was 12 months, although my sister, who is a pysician, recommended that we wait until 14 months because the jolting ride is hard on a developing body. Snacks, dolls, books often keep my son happy, but mostly he likes to stare at the passing scenery. He hates bumpy roads & speed bumps. 60 minutes is his max, then we get out and play for a while. If napping, he can ride longer. We ride to school, Berkeley Bowl, and other daily errands around north oakland/south berkeley. For longer rides, we go to the tilden carousel (up spruce), beach in Alameda or a destination along the bay trail. I like for my partner to follow the trailer for longer rides, but will go without him, if required. I have mounted many red blinkies to the trailer for getting-caught-after- dusk situations. Motorists are much more considerate when I have the trailer in tow. Get a EBBC west of the hills map: it will help you choose safe routes. Have fun! anon
We used to know folks who used a bike seat that mounted in front of the adult. I think they started using it around a year. It was from Europe & hard to find in US. I don't know the name. anon
We have a Chariot bike trailer. I've known people who have used these trailers with newborns in carseats, but we didn't use ours until our child was one. He loved it. We've never been hit, but we don't use it every day. cyclist
after researching briefly age recommendaions, we refrained from biking with our babe until she was 18 months, could sit up comfortably with her helmet on. the APA (i think) and/or other safety orgs suggest waiting until at least a year so the baby's neck can supprt the weight of the helmet. Once we started niking, we generally limited ourselves to early weekend mornings on residential streets with one parent riding behind the trailer to (hopefully) help drivers see that there was a trailer behind the first bike. biking with babes!
I started our daughter in a Burley d'lite (2 kid size) trailer at around 4 months. Missing Link provided good tips about riding with a small baby and took this advice: Bought 2-kid size trailer (an older one, off craigslist), took an infant car seat (without the base) and strapped the seat into the Burley. I then padded the gaps and under the seat with towels and blankets to soften the ride. The infant seat added protection since she could not yet fit safely into a bike helmet and, as long as the seat is strapped securely into the trailer (use extra straps if needed), is protected by the Burley frame in case of an accident. She did well for up to 4 miles, sometimes protesting if we went too fast downhill and felt the occasional bump. We kept her in the infant seat for as long as she fit into it, about 14 months and then she was able to wear the infant sized bike helmets. We now alternate a bike trailer (if we have a lot to carry or are shopping) with a rear-carry bike seat and she loves both. Paramount to all bike riding in Berkeley/Oakland or other metropolitan areas is to: 1) attach a high-visibility flag to the trailer 2) obey traffic laws, stopping at stop signs and crossing busy streets at stoplights 3) Use the Berkeley bike boulevards or other bike paths throughout the city WHENEVER possible 4) Assume that cars will not and cannot see you 5) Model good bike safety by WEARING A HELMET YOURSELF!!!!!! 6) Maintain your bike's brakes, wheels, chain and reflectors & carry a pump Happy Riding! been there, biked that
Our children have been placed in bike trailers since they were old enough to be placed in car seats. With a tall safety flag strapped to the trailer and a safe front rider, you should feel confident and enjoy the ride! I would advise you to spend the money on a very good trailer - Burley is the best. They have been around a very long time and the connection to the bike is solid. If the bike in front falls down, it doesn't effect the trailer at all. If you plan on having more than one kid, buy the bigger, sturdier one with the solid shell. They are a bit heavier, but they really come in handy for shopping with kids, etc. Your kids will learn to become excellent bicyclists if you start them young. And you will feel great, too! Good luck! Biking Family
I started biking with my daughter in a trailer when she was about a year old. My Burley trailer really doesn't have enough support for babies younger than that. I would bike her to daycare and then head to work; we would do 6 miles or so, which would take us about 45 minutes at my turtles pace, stopping at stoplights and such. We got a bicycle map of the Berkeley/Oakland area (put out by the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, which you can find in local bike shops) that shows bike routes, bike lanes and trails. I found a route from Oakland to my job in Berkeley that kept me mostly on designated lanes and routes. I've never been hit by a car, although I got doored once (before baby). Keeping to designated routes mititgates the danger.

Good luck to you. It's hard to fit in exercise with a young one, and biking is a great way to do it. Sometime biker


Toddler Bicycle seat

March 2007

Anyone have any advice about which toddler bike seat is safe and sturdy. I have read about the Kettler Dumbo seat. Also I can't seem to find any bike shops with a good selection, any recommendations? Is it safe to buy a used one?


we got a bobike for our second daughter. it fits in front of the rider, and you can get a windscreen for it. http://www.koolstop.com/bobike/index.php is one site i found googling bobike. we ordered it from the one step ahead catalog. it was ?$100 with the screen. for our first daughter we got a used behind the rider seat, the usual type, grey plastic, can't recall the brand. we got it at a school rummage sale. with used, you take your chances, as with car seats. we got the new seat because our first daughter complained she couldn't see, and that it was too bumpy (seat is over the back wheel). and the goal was to have a trail a bike in back, so papa could take both kids out, but we haven't tried that yet. bike widow
Have you considered the ''WeeRide'' front seat? It goes between you and the handlebars. It is $60 at Target.com. My 1 1/2 year old daughter loves it and we saw a dad and a 3 or 4 year old girl who love it too. that lady you see riding the bike with that thing

2004 - 2006 Recommendations


Bicycle touring with toddler

Dec 2006

I'm planning a 4-5 day bicycle touring trip with my son (he'll be almost two then) and his grandfather. My son will go in a trailer that I will haul, and grandpa will cover the rear. Am I insane? Any advice from parents who have done this? We are planning to camp, ride an unchallenging terrain, and put in 40-50 miles a day. Is that a reasonable expectation? Will we have enough energy and time left to play with my son at the end of the day? I'd love to hear from anyone who has attempted a similar trip. Thanks!! marjorie


You may want to look at a bike seat the sits up front near the handle bars. My daughter loves that view (a trailer is very boring for an almost two year old) from her bike seat up front. I can give you the name of the brand if you want it (there is a place for her feet, access her sippy cup and a place to rest her head when she is tired).

40 to 50 miles a day may be a lot for your little one. I would plan on 2 hours before lunch and maybe 1 1/2 to 2 hours after lunch. I would do lots of 2 hours stints before the ttip so that your child gets used to it. Actually, I guess that is 40 to 50 miles a day on flat ground moving pretty slowly. Jan


Front-mounted baby bicycle seats

Dec 2006

I am trying to decide among the available models of front-mounted bicycle seats, and wonder if anyone out there has tried one or more of them. Which model do you use? How easy is it to get your toddler in and out of the seat? How much does it affect your pedaling? How easy is it to take on/off as needed? many thanks! Rebecca


My husband and I have the Wee-rider/Centric Safe Haven mounted on our bikes. My daughters are 3 1/2 and 2 and love to sit up front. Granted, we've never used rear seats, but I can't imagine that the view would be as much fun. We generally use them two or three times a week for rides under five miles.

The ride isn't as comfortable as your knees need to be angled out a little. A nice feature of the wee-rider/Centric Safe Haven is that it comes off the bike pretty easily. It mounts onto a bar that runs just above the bar on a 'boys' bike. The bar stays on, but the seat is easily removed without tools. I have a 'boys' bike, so the bar isn't noticeable to me when I ride without the seat.

We also looked at purchasing a front-mounted Dutch seat, but they didn't look as comfortable as the Centric Safe Haven. Feel free to contact me directly with more questions jan


We have the WeeRide, which is the most widely available one (target.com has it). Both parents and child really enjoy it. We have been using it for about 1 year now, from 1 year old to 2 years old. I actually got it after contemplating it and then meeting a 4 year old and her dad who had one and told me they loved it. I think it is more secure than a rear seat. Lots of people will tell you that it is not as safe as a trailer, which is no doubt true. It is easy to put on your bike, and easy to take it off to ride on your own. (The bar that goes along your top bar stays on and the seat unscrews in a second. It is easy to put your child in. It does cramp your knees a little bit but not too much. I fully recommend it! WeeRider

Bike Trailer for an infant

Oct 2006

I'm not a huge bike rider but I did start riding right before I got pregnant and I really loved it. I would love to start biking again if there is any way to do it safely with my baby. I read some previous reviews that indicated that you can put an infant seat in a Burley Trailer and you cannot put a child on an attachment without a helmet unless s/he is in an infant seat.

Questions:
1. What is the earliest you can ride with a child and how?
2. What type of seat, attachment or trailer would be best to start with?

It's not my goal to be unsafe or put my baby in harms way so if it is a bad idea to start soon just let me know and I have no problem delaying riding with my baby until s/he is ready J


we too were interested in biking with our baby... but after poking around about safety, we found that it's generally recommeded that you wait until the baby is at least a year as the additional weight of a helmet combined with the road vibratiosn is too much for a baby. We had a January baby so by the time she was 1 and the weather was nice, well she started in her trailer around 15 months and has really liked it. She loves to go get her helmet and get ready biking too
There are a lot of bike trailers available, and a lot of ''used once'' versions on eBay. An infant seat in a trailer is a good solution: possibly better than a helmet. A helmet adds weight to the head, which has the potential to make a small bump a bigger jolt on a small neck. Besides, nobody makes small enough helmets. We started riding on a daily basis at 9 months, just going easy on the bumps.

When the child is older, however, dump the trailer and get a front seat. They're way more fun for everyone involved Bryce


I find it hard to believe that any bike trailer manufacturer would claim it's safe to put an infant in their trailer. The main problem is, you can't put a bike helmet on a baby under 12 months -- for the same reason you can't put them forward-facing in a car. Their spines aren't strong enough.

I have heard of people putting a baby in a bucket type carseat, rear facing, in a bike trailer. I suppose that's a good solution if you MUST use your bike for transportation, but I don't think it's worth the risk just for recreational riding.

I made my husband wait until our kids were over 12 months and walking well before taking them in the trailer.

However, I will note that the trailer is a safer choice than the bike-mounted child seat, so you are on the right track. Safety Conscious


Mountain Bike Riding with 3 Year Old in Trailer

June 2006

My husband and I have been having a disagreement about his plan to go mountain bike riding with our daughter (who will be three in October) riding in a bike trailer behind. These would be rides that take about two-three hours. He's an avid mountain bike rider and wants to share his love of the sport with her. He says he'll stop periodically along the way to let her walk around. I have several concerns. First, it seems dangerous to me -- I'm afraid he could lose control going up or downhill. We were once hiking down a steep hill while he was pushing her in a jogging stroller and he was struggling with it. I'm also concerned that that the trailer could knock against a rock or something and flip over. His response is that he's a very experienced mountain bike rider (he is) and that he would not take her on the kind of steep trail we encountered while hiking, and if he did come across a steep grade he would get off the bike and walk with it (but he was having trouble with the jogging stroller!)I've also questioned why I've never seen anyone else on real mountain trails pulling a bike trailer, thinking that perhaps it's because of safety issues. His response is that most people don't have the strength to do it, and he does. He also points out that it's much safer than pulling a bike trailer on paved roads. Another concern I have is that I don't really see our daughter getting all that much out of it -- it seems like it would be mostly a passive activity for her, sitting in the bike trailer. Sure, she would have the chance to walk around in beautiful open space, but she can do that without the risk of going on a mountain bike ride. I basically feel he should wait until she's old enough to ride a mountain bike on her own. I've told him I'm happy to watch our daughter once a week while he goes bike riding, but he really wants to do this. Am I worrying needlessly? Any advice would be appreciated


I pull my 2-yr-old in a trailer on city street, and she complains when the pavement is rough or there are too many potholes I can't avoid. A trail--even something easy like a fire trail--is going to be much worse than that. And 2-3 hours seems way to long. We commute 40 min to my daughter's daycare (she's fine with that) but I wouldn't subject her to more than an hour.

On the safety issue, single track is obviously out of the question ( I hope that's obvious to your husband; if not, he needs a shrink), but I think a fire trail would be perfectly safe (since they are designed to be navigated by trucks, the are wide and not very steep).

What I'd do is let them have a trial run, but insist that your husband not do anything more difficult than a fire trail. I suspect that your child will make her feelings known if it is too jouncy, too long, or too boring. If it works out better than expected, then you negotiate on safety. But I suspect that he will get so much complaint that he will lower his expectations and stick to short trips on paved trails Carrie


You hit the nail on the head when you said '' I don't see what she would get out of this.'' I think that's true of many activities first-time parents consider (camping, going to music festivals, etc)!

From my experience (as a cyclist and as a mother of two) it's best to stick to the paved paths. My kids prefer fast to bumpy any day.

Check out Iron Horse Trail in Contra Cost County. There are places to stop along the way (Peets! Playgrounds! Andronico's deli!)

Hold firm on this one. You are absolutely right. Been There


I'm also a very experienced cyclist with a 3-year old and a trailer. I used to do a lot of mtn biking but am now on the road. I would say let him do it. Your daughter will let him know if she likes it or not. I'd be surprised if she liked it, frankly. My son tolerates the trailer for a little while, but generally would rather get out and run around, so I don't trailer him too much. He loves riding his own bike more, and we do mini ''training rides'' around the block or at the parks.

If your husband is a good cyclist he will be able to control the trailer and keep it from flipping. They don't flip easily, and they actually add a lot of stability to the bike so it's a bit easier to ride at slow speeds with a trailer. I'd have no worries about this myself. I really don't think there is much physical risk here philrides


I don't have advice to offer, but I can offer support: as a Dad of young children who also loves biking, I feel all your concerns are entirely valid. It is fine to bike with a trailer with small children on wide dirt trails. Trails with stones are extremely dangerous, however, as they can ram the children low to the ground, and offer little safety if the trailer tips. Any steep inclines and excessive speed must be avoided for safety reasons (top speed limit is 10 mph for bikes with trailers). But perhaps most important, I do agree that long periods of time in the trailer is no fun for the child or children. Best to leave the children at home, or plan a short trip with a long break in between, like a pedal to Tennessee Cove. With any hobby or recreation, I feel that parents need to adjust and make suitable their own activities and passions while children are small dh
No offense to your husband, but he's out of his mind. I hope this is not ''single-track'' riding he had in mind through streams and what-not. Trailers are really not designed for off-road riding. He can probably take her on a well-graded gravel road although I doubt it would be all that pleasant for her with all the dust and gravel kicking up behind the back bike wheel and the jiggling around. (Only he probably has full two-wheel suspension to level out the bumps.) I am assuming he plans to have her wearing safety glasses and a helmet at least. But my suggestion is to tell him that if he really wants her to develop a love for the sport he so dearly loves, not to take her on a scary hell ride before she's ready in a freakin' trailer. Go for fun paved road rides with the trailer--like around Tilden Park Inspiration Point for example. Then start her slow on her own bicycle and by the time she's 12 she'll be as good or better than he is. Err on the side of safety and sanity. This is not a realistic idea. You have absolute right to meddle. For your daughter's sake, say ''no.'' Another Mountain Bike Enthusiast
You are right! The reason you never see anybody MOUNTAIN BIKING WITH A CHILD TRAILER is all the reasons you said--dangerous and no fun for the kid.

Tell him they can go biking all they want on normal, flat trails and he can go mountain biking all by himself (Is that what he is really getting at, perhaps?). I cannot imagine a burley-type trailer going over the smallest mountain-bike- type bump. Even with his limited jogging stroller skills, that would be much safer. I don't think that even walking the bike with the stroller attached would be safe anon


It seems like it would be a bad idea to take a three year old in a bike trailor like that, since she would be enclosed in a screened in trailor, which can't be that great of a view. Also, rocks may penetrate the screen if they go flying up from behind the wheels. A toddler needs something to do, and this doesn't really satisfy that need. Most of the enjoyment in mountain biking is using the skill required to navigate the trails, which she would obviously not partipate in. If he wants her to enjoy it the way he does, then he needs to be at her level - get her a bike, take it on some very short easy trails, and let her stop when she wants to. If he wants her to enjoy the outdoors, then just go for a walk with her so that she can really explore the environment. Besides, mountain biking for a couple of hours with a child in tow is not really spending time with the child. I don't know, this one just worries me. Please talk him out of it or downright refuse to let her go. Or, maybe you could go with him to the trailhead and spend some time there, allowing her to go on a very short, 5-10 minute long, sloooooow-paced ride. Then you and she could enjoy the outdoors while he gets down to his own business of riding concerned
I couldn't tell from your post if you already own the trailer and use it regularly or if your husband wants to go buy one to start using on dirt trails. When our son was 18 months old, we bought a bike trailer to take to tahoe and take family bike trips. My husband is also a mountain biker. At first I was nervous, but quickly got over that when my son began giggling hysterically during the ride and didn't stop until the bikes stopped. He loved it! We still take him for rides every summer at tahoe. The cabin we visit every summer is in a small, secluded neighborhood with dirt roads. It's the perfect setting for this kind of riding.

I don't care how ''good'' a biker your husband is, there's no way one of those bike trailers is going down a steep bumpy rocky narrow path. He really has no choice but to take wider, fire roads. And it would take a LOT to tip over the trailer we have....even if your husband falls over, the connection between the trailer and the bike prevents the trailer from tipping.

Your daughter is old enough to tell you if she wants to go for a ride. Ask her. 2-3 hours is a long ride though. What about compromising....take a few short rides down at the Berkely Marina. Yes, it's paved, flat and probably boring for your husband but it might be a good ''baby step'' for you to get used to the idea. Do you have a bike? make it a family trip. Pack a picnic. It'll be fun. Make sure she has a helmet though. --formerly bike-paranoid


Toddler rear bicycle carrier & helmet

May 2006

I am considering buying a rear bicycle carrier (seat) for my almost 2-year old (24 lbs), and would appreciate recommendations for or against different brands. I would rather not spend top dollar but if that is what it takes for safety/tolerability I will. Recommendations for toddler helmets (that she might actually wear and is less likely to ride forward if there is a high headrest) would be helpful too. Thank you! Anna


Have you considered the ''WeeRide'' front seat? It goes between you and the handlebars. It is $60 at Target.com. My 1 1/2 year old daughter loves it and we saw a dad and a 3 or 4 year old girl who love it too. that lady you see riding the bike with that thing

Trail a bike for 4.5 year old girl

May 2006

I am thinking if I should buy a trail a bike to go bike riding with my 4 year old daughter. It's the kind of bike which attaches to an adult bike. It's pretty expensive, anywere from 200 to 350 dollars and I want to make sure if it's worth the money. I don't see a lot of people riding it with their kids and I don't know anybody who has one. It looks like fun. What are the pros and cons for this bike ? Can it attach to any bike ? I have a mountain bike. Is it dangerous in traffic ? Is it popular with the children ? anon


The Burley piccolo Is the best one I know of. It attaches to a heavy duty rear rack that come with it. they are very stable & hight quality. my daughter loves hers & I just got another for my son Just turning 4. I have tried the cheaper ones but found them wobbly to the point of unsafe. Email if you need more info Greg
Target advertised a $62 Pathfinder trail-a-bike in a circular sent out on Sunday April 30. (Although I know nothing about it's quality.) Our daughter started using her trail-a-bike just after she turned four and loved it. As far as not seeing very many people with one, I see a lot of riders using them. But maybe having one of our own makes us more aware of other people using them, too. As far as attaching to any bike: the coupler for ours attaches to a seat post. (Some mountain bikes with shock absorbing seats don't have a regular seat post.) Also, it needs a certain amount of room on the post to attach. In fact we had to raise my seat slightly in order for the coupler to fit. It wasn't a problem on my husband's bike.

As far as being dangerous in traffic is concerned, the trail-a-bike changes the weight and balance of your bike as well as it's length. I ride more cautiously because of that. In addition, we ask our daughter to make an extra effort to sit still and not peddle on tight turns or curves because it makes maneuvering easier for us. But that may not be the case for you. In general when I'm riding with my children, I try to ride the bike boulevards if possible because I find those streets calmer with better crossings for busy streets.

We bought our trail-a-bike at Missing Link and didn't ask to test drive it. But you can take any bike there (and at most bike shops) on a test ride so I don't see why you couldn't test ride a trail-a-bike. They work without a kid on the back just as well as with a child in the saddle (maybe even better because you don't have worry about balance). So you could start out getting a feel for it. Then you could pick up your kid and see how she likes it. Susan


I had a used trail-a-bike ($99-$129) I rode with my 5 year old in Fort Collins Colorado last fall and winter. We loved it. In Fort Collins there were lots of paved bike trails off the road and great bike lanes. In Berkeley we have thought about getting a new one, but I doubt we would ride it on the road much (I don't ride that much alone in Berkeley with the terrible traffic). If you get one make sure the connection is really good with your bike and that it is stable. We took one spill (hit a wet patch) because the weight is shifted back off your front wheel and I lost control. We were a little scraped up, bit otherwise OK. It was scarey for me, but my little boy hopped right back on and I rode him to school. It is really fun if you have a safe place to ride, like the waterfront bike trail. peddle pushing mama
Hi- We have a trail-a-bike (Adams brand) for our son. We used it for a 2 mile commute to preschool basically from age 4-5, connected to our mt. bikes. Before that we commuted with him in a bike trailer.

He liked it, and we still use it some around town (he now is at a walkable school, so he doesn't bike commute anymore). It was good to have him connected to the adult bike and unable to cross streets when he shouldn't, etc.

I found it much harder to manage and less safe than the bike trailer, however. When he turned his head to look at something beside him, I had to compensate immediately to keep my balance. I'm an experienced bike commuter, but I never felt 100% stable on it - I couldn't turn my head safely to look at him behind me, for example, without wobblinng. It was like biking in gusty wind, but as if the wind mostly comes directly from the side but you can never tell which side it will come from next. I suspect this doesn't vary much by brand.

With the trailer I never felt unstable. Also, if for some reason I was to fall when pulling the trailer, the trailer stays upright so it is safer that way too. The trailer was of course better for hauling cargo too - we each always had a backpack, plus I had to carry the extra lock for the trail-a-bike, which adds up.

We had to frequently switch whose bike it was on, and that was a little annoying but didn't take too long. I think it fits most bikes, unless you have unusually fat tubes. - Looking forward to the transition to a two wheel bike


Ride-along attachment for 4-year-old

April 2006

I am thinking about getting one of those ride along attachments for my bike - looks like half a bike with a long pole attachment - so that my almost 4 year old daughter can pedal along but still be attached to me. Can anyone who has used one of those share their experience? Was it sturdy and safe? Do you recommend a specific brand? About how long was it useful for your child? My daughter does fine on her bicycle with training wheels, but if she is riding then I can't ride too because I have to walk next to her to make sure that she stops at the corner, doesn't ride out in the street, etc. The website has some old reviews, but they are more about the kind of trailer that a child sits in, not the kind where they are actually riding a bicycle too. Wants to bike!


We have one of those ''half-bike'' extensions that you are looking for and I don't think it's recommended for children under the age of 6 or 7. My oldest didn't ride it til 8 and my youngest is almost 5 and too small for it. You might consider a trailer that hitches on your bike instead....that's what we use for her right now. anon
The trailer bike has been a huge hit with my 5 year old. It's a Trek and quite sturdy and safe. I got it on Craigs List for about $75. Useful life for a kid seems to be about 1 year to 18 months, so try to buy used.
The best one Ive tried is the Burley Piccolo. I tried 3 others that attach to the bike seatpost & found them wobbly and the bike part is of lower quality than the burley. The piccolo attaches to a very sturdy rear rack that comes with the piccolo. the rack will also work by itself and even accepts our blackburn childseat. the piccolo has 6 speeds & you can adapt a backrest sold for the adams trailabike that will allow you to belt your kid to it if they do inapproriate daredevil no hands stunts like my 4 yr old son. email me for more. Greg
We started using a trail-a-bike with our daughter just after she turned four and are still using it today (she's nine now). We bought couplers for both of our bikes so she could ride behind either parent. I am not a strong rider (although I am a very experienced and happy bike rider) and initially worried it would be too heavy for me. But I was surprised at how easy it was to use--although I'm much slower than my husband so she prefers riding behind him. It's been wonderful for longer family bike rides, particularly the supported weekend charity rides we enjoy, of twenty-five to forty miles. I used to wonder if using it had discouraged her from learning to ride on her own. But now that we have a second child who is eager to ride anything on two wheels, I see that her reluctance to ride on her own is just her. In fact we're considering buying a tandem in order to continue the kind of riding we enjoy since she's finally beginning to get too large for the trail-a-bike. The only thing we've ever had problems with--and this was at the very beginning--was maneuvering through the posts that block entrances to bike paths. She scraped a hand on one early on so we had her slide her hands toward the center of the handle bars when the posts were present. But it's been a long time since we've worried about that. We've also purchase a heavy duty bike rack (that attaches to a hitch installed on our car) because its so much easier to securely load the bikes and trail-a-bike. Susan

Bike trailer with seat back and harness

April 2006

Does anyone know of a seat attachment for trailer bikes like the burley piccolo that provides a seat back & shoulder harness to keep a kid on the trailabike? My 3 1/2 yr old son really enjoyed his first ride on the piccolo. I thought it was great too until he told his mom about how he was riding no hands like curious george!


We are a big biking family and did lots of research on this last year when our daughter was about to turn five. (She's been biking with us in various contrapations since she was about 15 months.) We've found Burley piccolo to be the way to go. Burley recommends beginning is age four. We did find a trailer bike of the type you mentioned that I believe was manufactured in Germany. It had a seat back, harness and even showed a child sleeping. Can't remember the name of it but the closest dealer was in Chico. And it cost ~ $1300! We decided against it because it's fairly close to the ground and didn't seem like it would be visible enough to cars. We thought she'd outgrow it soon and it would have a low resale value. I'd suggest waiting another season until your son will hold on and then get the piccolo. Ours cost around $400 including the special rack that you need. (They are hard to find used, because people hold on to them for years.) We got one rack for my bike and one for my husband's bike. The burley piccolo is sturdy, won't make your bike wobble like some of the brands that connect via the seatpost, and your child be able to ride it for several years. The weight capacity is about 85 pounds. Last weekend our daughter, who is 2 months short of 6 years, rode 40 miles on the back of my bike. Happy Riding! River

2003 & Earlier


Kiddie bike seats

Dec 2003

I'm wondering when I can safely put my child into a bike seat (he is now 2 months old). At the least, I'd like to ride around town, maybe on the bike path for some errands or exercise. But I also love longer distance road riding and want to know if anyone has done this with a little one on the back or in a carrier. Can you recommend a seat or carrier? Thanks! BikerMom


I currently make a child bike seat that goes onto an adult three- wheeled bike that would hold a baby carrier. If you go to the website '2budsbikeseat.iwarp.com' you can see a picture of it. It just mounts to the back of an adult three-wheeled bike, in the place where they usually put a basket. Charlie
In general, it's not recommended to take a baby biking, especially not in a back-of-bike seat, until 1 year of age -- for much the same reason that you can't turn the baby's carseat forward facing until then.

I personally don't believe bike seats are safe, period. A trailer is the safer choice. (Though obviously opinion among bicyclists varies; I don't know if anyone's ever done any sort of statistical study.) In general, trailers also are recommended only for age 1 and up, and I was not comfortable allowing my son in one until he was walking well and fairly verbal, at around 15 or 16 months, but I have heard of people putting their baby's infant carrier carseat into the trailer, rear facing. I don't *think* there are any laws governing this, so it's up to you whether you feel comfortable with that solution. anon


Bike Trailers on BART

April 2003

We are trying to decide whether to purchase a Burley D'Lite, Solo or a Wike bike trailer and are trying to figure out if manuevering any of these 3 will be reasonably manageable on BART elevators.


My 15-month old daughter & I ride our bicycle all over town & we just LOVE our Burley D'Lite (the one that accommodates 2 kids or 1 kid & a bag of groceries). It costs $400 (ouch!) but it's light, safe, maneuverable, & comfy. You can also buy a $100.00 attachment that enables you to use the trailer as a stroller. I think those attachments are available for the Burley Solos as well.

Alas, the D'Lite sometimes feels more like D'Spair when walking my bike or using it as a stroller in narrow or crowded areas. Like BART & the BART stations. It handles well, but it's just too darned wide. Nonetheless, I'm learning how to manage.

But you'll also want to make sure that the elevators at your BART stations are working, because getting that thing up the escalator would be tough (would it even fit?). The reason I mentioned the stroller attachment is that when dealing with BART & any other tight/crowded area, it's easier if you can detach the Burley from your bike & use it as a stroller & have your spouse, partner or friend come along & carry the bikes.

So the Burley Solo might be the way to go -- it's smaller & hence easier to manage. This depends on whether you think you'll need the extra seat for a future sibling, a friend of your child's, or carrying stuff.

As for the Wike Bike trailer, I've never heard it before. Everyone I talked to recommended the Burley so highly. And I see them all over the place & rarely see anything else. I'm not sure whether that's because the Burleys are vastly superior (as their owners & bicycle retailers insist upon), or that the Wikes aren't as well-marketed. Elisabeth


Burley Trailer

April 2003

We are trying to decide whether to purchase a Burley D'Lite, Solo or a Wike bike trailer and are trying to figure out if manuevering any of these 3 will be reasonably manageable on BART elevators. River


My 15-month old daughter & I ride our bicycle all over town & we just LOVE our Burley D'Lite (the one that accommodates 2 kids or 1 kid & a bag of groceries). It costs $400 (ouch!) but it's light, safe, maneuverable, & comfy. You can also buy a $100.00 attachment that enables you to use the trailer as a stroller. I think those attachments are available for the Burley Solos as well.

Alas, the D'Lite sometimes feels more like D'Spair when walking my bike or using it as a stroller in narrow or crowded areas. Like BART & the BART stations. It handles well, but it's just too darned wide. Nonetheless, I'm learning how to manage.

But you'll also want to make sure that the elevators at your BART stations are working, because getting that thing up the escalator would be tough (would it even fit?). The reason I mentioned the stroller attachment is that when dealing with BART & any other tight/crowded area, it's easier if you can detach the Burley from your bike & use it as a stroller & have your spouse, partner or friend some along & carry the bikes.

So the Burley Solo might be the way to go -- it's smaller & hence easier to manage. This depends on whether you think you'll need the extra seat for a future sibling, a friend of your child's, or carrying stuff.

As for the Wike Bike trailer, I've never heard it before. Everyone I talked to recommended the Burley so highly. And I see them all over the place & rarely see anything else. I'm not sure whether that's because the Burleys are vastly superior (as their owners & bicycle retailers insist upon), or that the Wikes aren't as well-marketed. Elisabeth


Burley vs. InStep Turbo Trailer

Jan 2003

Can somebody advise is there a big difference between Burley and InStep Turbo Trailer? It looks like new Burley cost $300-400, and InStep trailer can be bought at costco.com for about $200 including delivery. Does that mean that Instep so much worse than Burley? Thank you. Natasha


I'm not familiar with the InStep trailer, but one thing I would advise is to check out how the cheaper trailer functions (how easily it is to disassemble, etc) and how heavy it is. We almost bought a cheap trailer at toys r us at one point, and I'm glad that we did not. It was quite heavy, and very hard to take apart to put in the trunk of the car. Another consideration is whether you want to use it as a stroller. We have a burley two-seater, and use it quite often as a double stroller. I don't know if the InStep can be used like this. mackrobb

How safe are bike trailers?

Oct 2002

My husband wants to get a bike trailer for our two toddlers. I am worried about accidents. Does anyone know how safe they are? Bene


Bike trailer safety-- First: I'm a former ER nurse & first aid-CPR trainer whose son is a cyclist & mechanic who has been hit twice & lived, uninjured. Bike trailers for kids -- like other bike transport-- are only as safe as the adults riding. WEAR HELMETS (all), use bike lanes, obey traffic laws to the letter as if you were a car, and don't use busy streets. Use a huge helping of common sense and intuition. If it feels dangerous, it probably is. Good luck! Christine
We've crashed once with a Burley trailer (partner was pulling the trailer in front of me - I saw the whole thing). The Burley rocked a bit - wheels came off the pavement (rocking) but it never came close to flipping and while the bike crashed, the trailer (and kids) was (were) fine. Kathy
How safe are bike trailers? Well, less safe than never taking your kids out on the street at all, for sure. But they're a lot safer than any other form of bicycle transportation for children. Most bike accidents involve the bicycle falling over - - and if the child is in a carrier on top of the bike, the child can be seriously injured even in a fall that would be no big deal to the adult rider. But a trailer stays upright, so chances are the child will be fine unless, say, a car actually runs over the trailer. Which could happen, of course, but it may be a risk like that of driving anywhere -- it's acceptable given the benefits. And honestly, a bike with a big yellow trailer behind it is more visible to car drivers than a bike without a trailer! I basically forbade my husband from getting a bike trailer until our son had a reasonable level of control over his own body (walking well, able to pick himself up from falls) and showed some interest in and excitement about riding -- to me there would be no point whatsoever in taking the risk of pleasure rides with a 6-month-old, but an 18-month-old who can truly appreciate the experience (or a situation where there is a real need to use the bike for transportation rather than pleasure) is different. My husband is an experienced and safe rider and uses the trailer primarily on the Ohlone bike path and quieter streets; he does not take our child on busier, noisier streets with a lot of car traffic. And of course, our son always wears a helmet. Now they both love biking over to the farmer's market on Saturday mornings while I sleep in, and it's hard to find much to complain about in that! Holly

Front Mounted Child Seat

Sept 2002

Where can I get a front mounted child seat for my bike? I'm not sure what they are called, or what name brands they are. I've seen a few around town and would feel much safer with my child in front than in back. I've already had a couple of not so good experiences with the back mounted child seat and do not want a trailer. Thanks Biking mom


We just got a front mounted seat. Actually it's behind the handle bars and straddles the center post. See: http://www.centricsafehaven.com/ I found it difficult to get the bike started. My husband rode 25 miles with it this weekend on a mountain bike. I rode along side on my own bike, so I could see that our daughter loved it and sang nearly the entire trip. The straps aren't the best and need some fine tuning. It seems like it would work best for a parent who is taller with a toddler less than 36 inches tall (the weight limitation is 40 pounds). The clearance is tricky because your chin will be directly above your child's (helmeted) head. When you factor in the helmet and leaning over to reach the handlebars/brakes, it's tricky. Anyway, if you want to see it in person contact us. Good Luck! River

Bike trailer for 5-year-old

Sept 2002

I'm looking to get a bike attachment for my five-year-old to pedal along behind me. Anyone know anything about brand, quality, weight limitations? Any recommendations? Sue


My daughter and I have been riding our Burley trailer for over a year and a half, and have done some 1,000 miles together -- mostly on Berkeley streets. I've posted a couple of messages to the Parents list over the past year or so about the experiences we've had with our trailer bike. I can dig these up and forward to you, if you'd like, or you can send specific questions to me and/or my daughter (who started riding it when she was 6yrs.) and we'd be happy to answer. We could also ride our setup to you and your child for a look, if you're in or near Berkeley. -Greg

Trail-Gator bike tow bar

Sept 2002

We are considering ordering a Trail-Gator tow bar and wondering if anyone else has experience with one. It's a substitute for a kids trailer bike that allows you to attach their bike to yours using a tow bar (it lifts the front wheel off the ground). You can ride tandem with your kid to a park or flat bike path, then disconnect the bar which slides into a bracket on the adults bike. It has primarily been sold in Europe for 4 years and meets their (stricter) safety standards. I spoke with the designer in Florida who said they have no reports at all of failure or breakage. Here is the website in case you are curious... I am going to try to talk REI into carrying it if it seems like a good alternative to a trailer bike. www.trail-gator.com Kristin


Big disclaimer: I have *not* used a Trail-Gator, so I can't comment based on experience with this device.

However, my daughter and I have logged some 1,000 miles or so with a Burley trailer bike in the last year and a half, so I have some experience with add-on bikes for kids.

My first concern with the Trail-Gator is that the child's bike is tipped up compared to the normal riding orientation. For the child, this changes the whole seating geometry a bit -- the seat is tilted back, the pedals are relatively farther forward compared to the seat, and the handlebars are higher up. I know that I'm fussy about micro-adjustments to the seat and handle bars on my bike, and would be bothered by the amount of tilt shown in the pictures; probably the same goes for kids.

Their Web site indicates that it should only be used with freewheeling bikes, or those without coaster (pedal) brakes. Such bikes will still have hand brakes for that rear wheel. The situation is much simpler in an arrangement where the child cannot apply brakes; the Trail-Gator set up adds that complexity to the equation.

(I've thought about what it might be like to add brakes to my daughter's trailer bike. The first issue is one of communication or mixed signals: if the kid is braking while the adult is trying to pedal, there's going to be a problem. Another thing that occurred to me is that on a heavily braked, steep descent, if the child's rear wheel were to break free into a skid while the adult was still applying brakes heavily, it's possible for the trailer to swing around forward, kind of ''folding'' the whole double bike setup -- or at least swing out away from the center track of the adult's bike. No brakes on a trailer for us.)

Also, those little bikes for kids are often geared *very* low. Even at moderate speeds for the adult, the kid will likely not be able to spin her cranks quickly enough to push or feel any resistance. Even our six-speed Burley is geared a bit low for our taste; I'm currently investigating replacing Emily's cranks with a set that accomodates removable gears so that we can put on a much larger front sprocket.

We're sold on the Burley trailer. We got an amazing deal on a used one, but, given that we ride it most days of the year for our daily commute, it would be worth it to us to pay full price for this trailer. I've talked with parents who ride with trailers from other manufactures, most of which attach to the adult bike's seat post (as does the Trail-Gator). The Burley attaches to its own special rear rack on the adult's bike, which seems to make for a sturdier attachment. Also, adult riders of seat-post-mounting trailers have told me that those trailers really feel very long and kind of bouncy, due to the length of the whole assembly. The Burley pivots right above the adult bike's rear wheel (making for a shorter lever length), while the Trail-Gator gives me the impression of being longer still than the typical seat-post-mounting trailers.

While it seems like I'm slamming the Trail-Gator, I suspect that it's great for the occasional short local ride on the Greenway or the Bay Trail, or for taking on vacations from time to time. However, if you're thinking of doing 5, 10, or 20+ miles at a shot, or if you were to ride it several times per week or daily, I think that the concerns that I express above would start to make the riders unhappy. Good luck! -Greg


Do you actually use your bike seat?

Oct 2001

Is there *anyone* out there who actually likes their bike seat? We live in an apartment, and there just isn't space in our living or storage areas for a Burley trailer. I want to bike with my daughter once she turns a year old, and of course we will get a helmet for her, etc. It would be nice to have some feedback from people who actually use a bike seat, rather than only from those who use a trailer. Thanks Donna


We have been using a Rhode Gear bike seat for about 3 months. I have not used a trailer so I cannot comment on pros and cons between the two, but I can say that I love our bike seat. We chose a seat over a trailer for a few reasons, 1) cost, 2) space, and 3) I felt more comfortable with my child on my bike frame rather than in a trailer. There seem to be many pros safety wise for the trailer, but personally I felt uneasy about pulling a trailer and for me a seat felt safer. I do think that in the case of a fall, a trailer is safer. But I was more concerned about being hit by a car, rather than falling. The trailer deal simply scares me, it scares me when I see them in the street and I'm driving. I don't trust other cars/drivers. I generally only ride on biking paths and sidewalks and with a trailer I'm not sure how easy it is to ride on sidewalks. My son loves the bike seat, he wants to ride in it every day! I sometimes wear a small backpack and have not had problems with it hitting my son's face, as others have commented. I also like having him close to me while we are riding. Good luck in making a choice! Rachel
At first I was nervous about biking around Berkeley with our kids, but the bike lanes have made it easier and I ring my bike bell like a maniac so we don't get "doored" by people getting out of their parked cars. Now I love it, because I can zip through the barriers and past traffic. It's great. Our daughters loved the Rhodegear bike seat up until the time they couldn't squeeze into it any more. It's very sturdy and has held up well. We bought a used Burley to tote around 3 toddlers, and now use it for groceries. Now that our girls are older, they are enjoying the tagalong bike which I can attach easily to my bike and convert it into a "bicycle built for two." --- Franny
Yes, I use a bike seat with my son, although not regularly, and have found that it works fine. I ride an old, solid, 3-speed women's bike so there is less chance of falling off than with a racing bike with narrow tires and pedal clips, say. Certainly, in my ten+ years of daily commute bike riding from Oakland to Berkeley, I've never fallen off my bike and haven't come close to falling off riding around with my son either.

With a 35-40 lb. kiddo above the rear wheel, the bike is very differently balanced from normal though, and it takes extra skill and diligence to ride the bike. Because of the reduced stability, I avoid heavily trafficked streets, parking lots, and other car-infested places. I can easily talk to my son about the stuff we pass, etc. because he is right there behind me. My son always enjoys the rides too. If I were commuting with my son or riding long distances, I would probably consider investing in a Burley, but for short jaunts, I find the bike seat to work well. Peter


We have had our daughter in a bike seat since she was 5 months old. She is now 2 1/2 and I ride her to school on my way to work. We have had a great experience using our bike seat, and she loves to be up where she can see, feel the wind, and feel like she is part of the bike ride. We have a Rhode Gear bike seat, which is reputedly the safest. They come in a regular type and one that can recline for a sleeping child. We have the regular one. I cannot speak to a Burley since I've never used one, but I can certainly highly recommend the bike seat!!! We just got another one to mount on my husband's bike for our newest baby so we can all bike together. -Jennifer
I use a bike seat and I love it. (I can't remember the brand name offhand, but it's a common one -- I bought it at Missing Link and it was the only kind they had.) (I never used a trailer, so can't compare.) I've used it for about 2 years, starting with my daughter at age 3, and so far haven't had a problem. Once my husband, who uses one too, fell on the bike. My daughter was a bit scared but not hurt, and didn't have a problem about going in the seat again. I like that she's close enough that you can have conversations with her while riding. I keep the seat on the bike permanently -- it's great for carrying groceries, a backpack, and most other miscellaneous items when she's not in it. Hannah
In reply to the plea for views from bike seat rather than trailer users: we have used a bike seat for three years, from the time when our son was also about one year old. We have never had an accident whilst he was on board (touch wood), probably, I think, because of the extra caution his presence inspires. (I fall of fairly regularly when on my own.)

At first, I was actually most worried about him falling out of the seat, but this is, in fact, not a problem at all. Falling asleep turned out to be more worrying. Any movement, including cycling, helps to put a little kids to sleep. Our bike seat at least provides little support for a flopping head. When our son was smaller, I always stopped riding and walked when he snoozed off, because I was worried about his neck.

Our seat is quite solid, curves a fair way around the sides, and I think would provide quite good protection were we to fall. We bought the seat in the UK - I think it was manufactured by a Scandinavian company - so I can't really give any useful advice on buying kids' bike seats here. You should, however, check that you bike is long enough for the seat to fit onto. In some cases the kid can end up with his or her face only a few inches from the adult's back. The proximity of a child on a bike seat has one important advantage: it must be a lot easier to talk to your child on a seat, than it would be in a trailer.

I hope that is of some help, and reassures you that bike seats are not necessarily accidents waiting to happen, Chris


We used a bike seat for our son from about age 8 months to 4 years and liked it. (Ended up getting two--one for each of our bikes.) The Rhode Gear series (Taxi and Limo they were called 8 years ago) fits on Blackburn racks that come with them, so you can use the racks for carrying things when the seat isn't on. I didn't notice any safety issues, except for using common sense. The bike does get a bit top-heavy, which is an issue when getting off and on. I wouldn't put one on a road bike--only on a mountain bike or cross bike. Fran
We use a bike seat (and a trailer.) We used the trailer more when our son was younger (we actually attached his carseat in the trailer). We LOVE the bike seat. It is very convenient and our son really likes to be able to look around and be closer to mom or dad. We probably bike more with our son now that we have a bike seat. I am part of a 'bike-riding mom's group' and many use bike seats. It allows us to do longer, harder rides and the kids all do great. I do agree that the trailers are somewhat safer, but if you ride cautiously and defensively, I believe the bike seats can be very safe as well. In addition, you can get a bike bag that attaches to the handlebars or a front panier to carry your stuff so you don't have to worry about the backpack in the face problem. We still use the trailer for trips where we need to haul stuff, like camping trips,etc. and also look forward to using it when we have another child. Elizabeth
I have used both a Burley trailer and a bike seat. There are good points and bad points to each. I would not give up my bike seat, however, since it is much lighter for hauling my son around and he seems to enjoy the ride more sitting up where he can see. He usually sleeps in the seat for about 40 minutes when I do a longer (1 1/2 hour) ride.

On the negative side, I can't carry as much with the seat (but I did put on a front rack with a pannier, which helps.) As far as safety, you're only as safe as the drivers around you with either the trailer or the bike seat, so you must be assertive in taking your rightful space on the road, or avoid traffic roads. I have felt comfortable riding in Berkeley and Oakland, but I choose routes/roads carefully. Some of the other moms with whom I've ridden prefer to stay on bike paths or designated bike routes. It can help to put a flag or reflective stickers on the back of the seat to make you stand out. Anonymous


We are very happy w/ our bike seat. My son is 17 mo. old & I started biking w/ him in his seat (made by Troxel) when he was 9 1/2 mo. We bike for transportation all over Albany, Berkeley, No.Oakland & Emeryville. We have also bike for fun on many of the trails in Contra Costa County. It's great. My son loves it, he will even fall asleep from the rhythmic movement. I highly recommend getting a bike seat that can be removed from the rack, that way if your daughter falls asleep you can lock the bike up & transport her in the seat still asleep. Also, if you us your bike a lot for riding w/out her, you can remove her seat & still attach whatever bike bag you might need.

I have heard from many people that they are afraid that the child's extra weight & movement will adversely affect their ability to balance & maneuver. I have never had any trouble. I started when my son was pretty young (didn't weigh or move around much), so maybe that helped me make the adjustment. I have cycled quite a bit & I had concerns regarding a trailer affecting my balance & movement, not to mention concerns about clueless motorists not realizing that they need to wait not only for the bike to pass, but also the trailer. I think both arguments have valid points & you have to make the right decision for your own situation. Good luck & happy trails:) Romy


I have been biking with my 16 month old daughter in a Rhode Gear Bike seat for the past few months, and it is amazing. I like having her right next to me, and the seat is certainly smaller and easier to store than a trailer. I feel safer having her next to me if I have to navigate through traffic or around potholes. I also opted for the seat so that I can take the bike on the back of my car if I want to drive to a bike path; I didn't think the trailer would fit in the back of my car very well. eeb
One of the posts regarding bike seat safety stated that the poster had used a bike seat since the child was 5 months old. They are usually not recommended until a child is around 1 year, since the child's neck muscles need to be strong enough to handle the added weight of the helmet in case of a sudden stop. (Same logic behind rear-facing car seats.) That was the recommendation when I worked in a bike shop 5 years ago; if it's changed since,someone is sure to post a correction. I have heard of people placing rear-facing car seat in Burleys to use them with much younger infants, but don't know enough about this to comment on it. Jennifer
I am new at riding a bike with toddler in tow (aged 19 months) in a bike seat. I haven't ridden a bike in years so I had little confidence in myself initially. But I took it slow on easy bike paths (the Bay Trail is great) and have worked up enough confidence to hit the streets, traffic and all. I haven't used a (Burley) trailer at all but I am finding that the bike seat is fine for my toddler and me. She's right there behind me instead of trailing behind where there is a risk of her getting hit by a vehicle. The load for me is lighter than with the larger trailer. My toddler loves riding on the seat for she can see a lot, probably more than sitting low in a trailer. She loves being close enough to hear my voice and see me when I glance back. We'll "sing" songs together as we ride. OK, so my toddler has the vote. For me, there is some balancing to get used to; the extra weight (vs. riding alone) sways around more. So far, I haven't fallen off and I've had a good time with this new activity with my toddler.

If you do choose to get a bike seat, make sure that the toddler helmet is one of those completely rounded styles vs. the pointed aerodynamically designed ones. That way, it's comfortable for your child to sit back against the back of the bike seat. Enjoy! Liz Many thanks to all who posted, and to the even more who emailed. I will be getting our bike seat soon...and maybe some panniers so we can shop as well as exercise. Thanks again. Donna


New ideas on bike seat vs. trailer?

Oct 2001

It's been a few years since there was discussion in this forum about using a bike seat vs. a bike trailer for carting your kid around. I'm debating whether to invest in a Burley bike trailer or a Rhode Gear bike seat to use for recreating on bike trails - paved and unpaved - and commuting on streets that have bike lanes with my 24-pound, 10-month-oldb oy. Any advice or new thoughts from those who've done both? Danielle


My husband and I have a Burley duo trailer that we have been using for our 2 girls who are now 2 1/2 and 4 yrs. old. We thought briefly about getting a bike seat for our 2 1/2 year old, since our 4 yr. old often like to ride her own bike now. However, as a pediatric physical therapist, my biggest concern is if I were to crash with her strapped into a seat behind me. Yes, she always wears a helmet, and we are almost exclusively on bike trails, but if I were to crash with the Burley, it has a junction on it which swivels, thus keeping the trailer upright most of the time when the bike in front of it crashes. Obviously, it also gives much more protection by virtue of the frame. I have seen too many children with head injuries (yes, you can sustain a serious head injury even in a helmet) to allow myself to put her in a seat behind me, even though it would be much less cumbersome. Don't know if this helps, but we have visited and re-visited it and I just can't risk it. Trish
This is a response about a trailer vs.a bike seat. We have only used a trailer with our son so I cannot compare the two but from our standpoint a trailer is safer and more fun for the child. It is very visible and if the bike tips over, the trailer does not. My son can bring toys, books, etc.. in the trailer so he does not get bored. It is more comfortable for a child to sleep in and it offers shelter from the elements. If you want to talk about it more, please email me. Amanda
I haven't used a bike seat, having become convinced early on that trailers were inherently safer and more versatile, but I will pass along this anecdote regarding my Burley trailer (in which I've now pulled both of my daughters serveral thousand miles, both here in the E. Bay and during extended Italian vacations): early on, when I was still getting used to the handling of the Burley, I went around a right-angle, off-camber turn much too quickly, and I flipped the Burley, and then proceeded to drag it 50 yards before I realized what had happened. I note two things:

1. Even a high-speed rollover of the trailer didn't upset the equilibrium of the bike, thanks to Burley's well-designed hitch.

2. My young daughter, who had decided to take her nap during this ride, was entirely unharmed. Indeed, she didn't even wake up! I attribute this to the full set of restraining straps built in the Burley's seat, and to the "roll cage" design of the trailer's frame, which wraps the aluminum tubing entirely around both the wheels and the passenger compartment.

I've been riding, with and without trailers, for many years, and am convinced that an occasional crash is inevitable--and when that inevitable crash occurs, I would much rather that my precious cargo be in a trailer than on a seat.

One final note: my Burley is eight years old now, much traveled and heavily used. And although it looks a little down at the heels, it's still fully functional, runs fine, and has retained much of its original market value. Wish I could say that about my car! Steven


I can't say I've done both, but I have been grateful to have used a trailer to pull my 4 year old son for the past two years. It was just this past Summer when I lost balance, couldn't clip out of the peddles in time and literally flipped over my handlebars falling into a pile of ivy just off the trail. While I was banged up quite a bit, I was so relieved to look over at my son, sitting unscathed and perfectly upright in his Burley trailer asking, "you ok mommy?". The mechanism that attaches the bike to this type of trailer actually swivels, so when my bike is down, the trailer stays stable. Also this trailer sits on three wheels which helps add balance when you ride.

Personally, though I see people all the time using them, would *never* use a bike seat - especially after the incident described above. Also recently, I was riding behind a woman with her infant in a seat and the mom's big backpack kept sweeping across the baby's face making Baby really mad. Mom was oblivious as to why her kid was fussy until I pointed out the obstruction. I'll also add that no matter what the method, try to avoid busy streets and follow all traffic and safety rules (they apply to bikes too) to reduce your risk of an incident. Otherwise, this is one activity you will really enjoy doing with your kid. Happy riding! Rue


One reason no one has mentioned so far besides how safe Burley trailers are and the protection from the elements is how convenient they are for carrying things along with my 2 year old daughter. I use the Burley to take her to preschool--most mornings there are lots of other things to bring with her which I can stash behind her. I can also grab a bag of groceries on the way home or our box of CSA vegetables. The Burley really keeps us out of our car more often than a seat on the bike would although we never actually tried one. My daughter is a lot more enthusiastic about getting in the trailer at the end of the day than her car seat. My only regret is not buying the double Burley because it adds a lot more space for carrying things (and for the eventual passenger number 2) and doesn't add much more weight! michele

Have you used a trail-a-bike attachment?

Oct 2001

I'd like to hear from parents who use trail-a-bike attachments where the kids can pedal along... in terms of overall safety, how well the adult's bike handles with the attachment, if the kids like them, at what age or size the kid should be, etc. I had a burley trailer (which I loved) when I lived in SF but now that I'm back in Berkeley, I don't like how narrow the roads are and don't feel right about using the Burley here. Plus, my 3 year old is more interested in "doing" rather than just "sitting." KK


here's one suggestion: Try a Trail-a-Bike by Renting One. I know the Missing Link on Shattuck (near Berkeley Way) and the bike store on Solano (can't remember it's name) both let you rent Alley-Cats. You can rent a bike with one already attached or take in your bike and they'll help you attach it. My kids both loved it. I liked it but found it pretty tough going up hills. It didn't help that my daughter kept resting her feet on my back tire! Be sure to call the bike shop to make sure the Alley Cats are available because I think they're rented often on weekends. Ann
Yes! My daughter (now 7) and I have logged over 500 miles since January on the streets of Berkeley with our Burley Piccolo. (Hee, yes, that's no typo - over five hundred miles! I've also done at least that many miles again pulling the trailer without my daughter on board.)

We started shopping last December, phoning bike shops from Pinole to Fremont to research models, features and pricing. The low end of bike-shop price seemed to be about $189. This was for single-speed models that mount to the adult bike's seat post. As you go up in price, you add things like gear shifting for the kid and and folding hinges on the trailer for stowage/transport. The Burley is the only model we found with a fancier mount design -- there's a special rear rack for the adult bike, and the trailer mounts to it with a beefy universal joint style hitch.

The Burley isn't cheap, but we were amazingly lucky to find one on consignment, virtually unused, for about the same price as the base models of the other brands.

We've talked to a number of parents who've seen our trailer and remarked on how much they like the Burley's hitch design when compared to their seat post mounting trailers -- "our seat post mounting trailer feels unstable" and "my bike was damaged by the trailer, and I had to get the frame welded" are some of comments we've heard. Given what we've heard since buying the Burley, we suspect that the lower price of the other brands makes for false economy in the long run, given heavy daily use. (To be fair, we have actually not tried any of the others.)

Emily was surprised by the feel of the first couple of turns we took on our test ride, but quickly learned to recognize that the normal leaning of a bike through turns is o.k. (She's only just started riding a two wheeler on her own, and had only ridden solo with training wheels at that point.)

The Burley rides very smoothly. I can feel that it's there, but it tracks very nicely. There wasn't much adjustment or "getting used to" the trailer that was required. You have to make sure you allow for the length when rounding tight corners (or in any other situation).

On any given day, I either take my daughter to school or pick her up in the afternoon with the trailer bike. We live near Alcatraz and MLK, and she goes to Berkeley Montessori School near the "top" of Cedar (a block east of Euclid) in north Berkeley. It's about 3.5 miles, but the kicker is the 400 foot net elevation difference. It took us a week or two before we could climb the last couple of blocks to school, and the trip took us about 45 minutes. Now we pedal all the way, and we do it in under half an hour.

The gears on the trailer are critically important to us. While Emily doesn't have the strength and endurance to completely pull her own weight, her contribution is critical to us making it up the hill; I cannot do it without her effort.

It took a little doing to find the best route between home and school. There's a free map of Berkeley bike lanes and bike routes available at the commute store on... is it Center Street? half a block from Shattuck. We have a mix of bike-laned roads, bike routes, bike-friendly streets, and "regular" streets that we take. We will occasionally ride on Shattuck.

We follow automobile traffic rules, as cyclists are supposed to do. (Besides -- I've got an enforcer right behind me at all times, and she'll rake me over the coals if I blow it.) Following all of the rules can be strangely awkward at a four-way stop when an auto arrives first, but assumes that the cyclist will ignore the stop sign. Car stops, waits for bike, but bike stops, waits for car, etc.

We typically dismount and walk the bike across crosswalks at busier streets. Once, Euclid was dead of auto traffic, so, after a pause, I began to pedal across. Emily had presumed we were going to dismount, and gave a quick shout to let me know I'd began without her! We've now got a very clear system of confirmation before dismounting. ("Let's hop off and walk the bike." "Hop off?" "Yes, let's hop off and walk.") Ditto for mounting the bike and starting off on a trip -- "Are you ready?" "Ready, dad" or "just a second."

We've learned that neither of us is very comfortable when the other stands up -- the standing rider will tend to rock the bike side-to-side when pedalling.

If Emily needs to stop, she lets me know ASAP -- uncomfortable clothes, an itch under the helmet, etc. This is especially critical when going up the hill, as I need her continous, steady effort. If she's gotta stop pedalling on the climb, she lets me know right away and we just stop the bike altogether.

Gloves are a must for chilly mornings. Also, Em will wear a thin rain jacket as a wind breaker, and will wear the hood under her helmet. A scarf is required on the coldest east bay mornings. (This is not a terribly big deal in this climate if you're prepared -- she was used to getting pulled to school through the snow to in a little sled when we lived in Michigan!)

We don't ride at night very often, but we can get caught out. We have front and rear lights, and have just ordered a monster (2mi visibility) flashing red rear light. I may actually start using the rear light all the time, even during the day. The Burley has an orange flag, and the bikes have the regular reflectors. The biggest factors for safety seem to be picking a sensible route and being very conservative in how you ride.

We've gotten caught in the rain a few times. Makes for a nice hot chocloate session afterwards. Also, www.wunderground.com's up-to-the-minute radar has helped us to decide to ride or not -- we can often hit gaps in scattered showers. We're gearing up with fenders for all three wheels so that we can ride more comfortably through the puddles and wet streets after a rain.

Our trailer has paid for itself in saved AC transit fares, we've cut our commute time in half, we get fabulous exercise, and we're more inclined to patronize local businesses since it's much easier to take a side trip or stop for a few minutes when you're on bike. Bike parking downtown is free, easy, and abundant, too. The trailer can swing around to nearly parallel to my bike for lockup -- the whole grand assembly pretty much folds in half.

There are also the intangibles. Emily absolutely loves the trailer. Bike time is very "quality" time for us. We actually have more conversations on the bike than we did riding the bus! The hill climb is also an activity that absolutely requires a joint effort, and, though routine, is also a hard-won accomplishment every time we do it. Once my chain broke, and she did all of the pedalling for the two of us for many blocks on flat roads -- she still beams with pride about that. Other kids point and "wow" as we ride by, and it's a very stylish way to arrive to school. We've also taken it to Angel Island on the ferry, and have gone on a docent-led bike tour of historic Oakland.

We got it when she was six and a half. I think that the biggest issues with a three-year-old would be related to questions of cooperation and communication -- never standing up, being certain of when to stay on the bike and when to get off, etc.

We'd be happy to show you our trailer some afternoon. Also, I work on campus, so you could stop by to check it out if you're near. Greg


Six months ago, my son, who had just turned four, was looking to graduate from his tricycle, and was envious of my 'big boy bicycle'. He was less than enthusiastic for training wheels, but intrigued by an 'attaching bike'. So we went to Missing Link, rented an Alley Cat. Worked very well, so we bought one (they deduct the rental fee). We ride about every other weekend, strictly recreationally, most typically out the Nimitz at Inspiration Point, or the Bay Trail in Richmond. It's a blast! He loves riding his 'big bike', clamors to go riding, and is very proud of all the approving comments we get.

A few other notes. I'm not very comfortable riding on Berkeley Streets. The bike is long, requires good verbal coordination for stops, has a much longer stopping distance (a particular concern on down hills) and Berkeley's potholed streets can be disturbing to the low riding rear rider... That said, there is nothing to prevent you from doing so, and we know others who do. What to buy. We got the single speed model, I think it was about $125. Great value, and seems perfectly adequate to me. I agree that the hitch which attaches to the seat post seems ultimately destined for metal stress failure, but I doubt it would crack the frame or seat post, and I don't think that there is any instability. I have wondered if gears would have made my son who is a good peddler even more helpful? I still doubt it. Good luck! Kevin


I don't have much to add to Greg's comments, except a warning about Ally Cats: we aren't happy with its hitch, which can come undone while riding. (My husband and I both had this experience more than once, and we're sure it was tight at the beginning of the ride.) Our son has been commuting with it since he was 4 or 5. Often he's fallen asleep on it, and kept his hands clutched to the bars and never fallen off. (NOT recommended, but at least it hasn't been a problem.) I think it has a weight limit of 80 pounds. Fran

Bike Seats vs. Trailers

August 1999

I am looking for information on the safety ratings of pull-behind vs bike rack carriers for transporting a toddler behind or on her parent's bike. My husband and I would like to get back into biking on a semi-weekly basis around the neighborhood and through nearby parks (in Walnut Creek) and would like to take our 25 lb 18 month old daughter with us. I am concerned that the pull-behind carriers would be susceptible to being hit from behind (they are wider than the bike) and/or would compromise the turning and easy operation of the parent's bike. How safe are on-the-bike rack seats? Are they even sold anymore? My gut feeling is that I would prefer to have my daughter as close to me as possible, because it would give me more control and she would be safer in an unexpected situation. I would like to hear any personal insights, experience, and preferences you might have. Thanks! Rachel


My wife and I have used both rack-mounted and trailer kid carriers, and for safety I would prefer a trailer. With the rack-mount carrier, the bike is more unstable while you're getting the kid strapped in; it's difficult to mount without losing your grip and dropping the bike (with kid strapped in!); and even when you're safely in the saddle the bike is tippier than with a trailer.

As for getting rear-ended, the trailer is typically bright yellow with an international-orange pennant flying on the left (traffic) side; a motorist oblivious enough to rear-end something like that would rear-end anything. As the one driving the bicycle, you have the job of watching car traffic from all directions and keeping both bike and carrier out of harm's way. I think there's no significant difference between rack-mounts and trailers in that regard. A bike with a rack-mount carrier presents a smaller target, but if motorist and cyclist are out to lunch nobody's safe.

Both rack-mount carriers and trailers degrade the bike's turning and handling, of course: the rack-mount makes it tippier, as I said, and a passenger inclined to lean and wave unpredictably can make for some thrilling moments (though to be fair I should say they quickly learn to hold still!). The trailer makes it feel like you're pulling a house, but it doesn't hurt the turning much. You do need to mind the trailer's turning characteristics, which are not the same as your bicycle's.

With either carrier, of course, you want to make sure the kid is securely strapped in, and make several practice runs before carrying a "live load"; the first time I towed my daughter in a trailer I took a corner too close and flipped the darn thing. Being well strapped in, she was unhurt (though somewhat disposed to criticize). Well-fitted Snell-standard helmets for all, of course (or at least ANSI-standard--it can be hard to get a Snell-standard helmet for a toddler).

I think your gut feeling is, with all due respect, in need of calibration. Having the kid close to you doesn't necessarily make her safer, or help you stay in control; if that were true, you'd hold her in your lap when you drive your car, not put her in a child-safety seat in back. On a bike, I think she's safer six feet away in a stable two-wheeled trailer, with lots of protected space around her, than two feet away in a seat that makes your bike hard to mount and tippy to ride. With the rack-mount, whatever happens to you and your bike happens to the kid: if you wipe out on a turn, she goes down with you, and no way will you be able to twist around on the way down and hold her off the pavement (the seat will do a lot of that for you, but you can depend on some abrasions on her arms and/or legs). With the trailer, no matter what happens to you and the bike, she's got two wheels on the ground and an aluminum cage around her. My two cents. John


With all due respect to the previous, very articulate opinion of bike trailers, my experience is somewhat different. I've been communting with my son, now 4, for over 3 years on a bike seat. I agree that in the case of totally out-to-lunch drivers, a child may be safer separated from the bike (unless of course, the trailer is hit and the bike itself is not). But in terms of manuveuring the bike through urban obstacles on a daily basis, I feel much safer having my son as close to me as possible. When I swerve to avoid potholes, stop abruptly, or otherwise have to navigate narrow riding space, all of which happens on a daily basis, I know that my son is literally in the same space as I am.

When we ride an Alleycat/pull-along with him riding 3 feet behind me, I have to evaluate a much larger space (both physically and psychologically) for our safety. While I am still learning and adapting to these new factors, it is exhausting. Frankly, I am dreading the day (very soon) when my son exceeds 40 pounds and can no longer ride in the seat, because hauling him and the Alleycat feels like much more work. And with both types of transport, my son needed to learn what was acceptable (wiggling, waving wildly at a neighbor on the sidewalk, or whatever).

I suspect there are stats somewhere on bicycle accidents with children in all types of transporting devices and maybe that information would shed light on the particular conditions of danger or safety, eg. trailers make sense on wider rural or suburban roads, but not necessarily in urban congestion.

Happy cycling! Claire


Remember that, in terms of raising or lowering the center of gravity, and therefore impacting stability, that not all trailers are alike.

Some connect to the seat post, which raises the center of gravity and causes pbs similar to a rack mounted seat. Others connect to the axle of the rear wheel, which keeps the bike's and the trailer's weight closer to the ground.

I bought a tandem trailer that attaches to the seat post and that my son loves, but now regret not having gone for the fancy and expensive Burley brand, that attaches at a lower level (on a rack, w/ joint right above the wheel, vertically lined w/the rear axle) and would make it easier and safer to ride with. Eric


My wife and I invested in a Rhode Gear Limo. We are very happy with this seat. Unlike some of the other bike carriers out there, this seat fits on a standard Blackburn "Expedition" Luggage Rack, so that we could theoretically continue to actively bike tour with the rack which will support our panniers (saddle bags). We put the rack that came with the Rhode Gear seat on my bike, and purchased a second rack ($40-50) for our tandem.

The rear seat arrangement works great for urban cycling in Oakland where we ride in traffic. I feel more manueverable and more difficult to hit. The worst part of any bike trip for us trip is getting the bike helmet on our son's head. His neck has been pinched in the buckle so he is very wary of the process. Once in the rear seat, he often sings to himself, and often falls asleep. When we do tour with our son on the back, we are unable to carry cargo on the rear rack. Thus we haven't toured with the tandem, and when we took our bicycles on the train to Pismo Beach this past summer, I carried our boy, and my wife packed all of our gear on her bike when we rode between Pismo and San Luis Obispo. Protectection from the sun is also more difficult on the rear seat as opposed to a trailer.

We debated purchasing a third rack for my wife's single bike, but we are seeking to purchase a collapsable trailer, in anticipation of a second child down the path. We rented a trailer while riding on some grade separated bike paths in Wisconsin this summer and our 14 month old son enjoyed himself in the trailer, despite the fine grit that the bike's rear real tossed up and filtered through the screen mesh (it was too hot to have the cover on). I did find a web site that addressed some of your concerns, and reaffirmed some of mine.

http://www.ibike.org/infant.htm Good luck. Kevin


My two cents as a car person (i.e., not a bike rider at all):

Personally, I dread seeing those bike trailers on the road. They always take me by surprise. Usually, I'll see the bike first, then the flag, then LO AND BEHOLD there's this trailer DOWN there where I least expect to see a vehicle. I always find it startling. Then I breathe a sigh of relief that I saw it THIS time and pray that next time I won't be distracted by something else on the road to see the bike trailer in time.

A contributing factor could be the busy streets on which I usually encounter these trailers (such as MLK around Cedar). You are dealing with narrow streets, garbage trucks, double-parked cars, etc. The flag helps (better than nothing), but is not as obvious as you might think when there's numerous other stuff going on.

BTW, I do consider myself a safe driver. I am usually carrying precious cargo myself (my two kids), so I do try to be extra careful. But, ugh, I shudder every time I see one of them bike trailers...


I use a bike trailer to schlep my son to his babysitter. I can pack his lunch box, his diaper bag, toys for him to play with, some snack food, etc. A trailer is more versatile in that I can bring all of his daily crap and leave it all at the sitter's. I considered using a bike seat, but then that would mean using front panniers. I am a student and carry a load of books with me every day -- the book bag would be in his face.

After cycling (and driving!) around Berkeley for several years, I have discoverd that jaywalkers are just as dangerous as cars. I consider myself a paranoid cyclist, but twice today I almost collided with a pedestrian, and a few months ago, I did. She stepped out into the street without looking, and while she stayed standing, I hit the pavement hard enough to wreck my helmet. I was just thankful my son wasn't in the bike seat, or he surely would have been injured.

So I prefer a bike trailer :-). That said, I agree with a previous poster concerning busy streets and trailers: they don't mix. I think cyclists should be wary of *cycling* on busy streets (such as Ashby or Shattuck), let alone pulling a bike trailer. I use "bike routes" or residential streets as much as possible and cross busy streets (like Telegraph) with the help of streetlights. So far, cars have been very considerate and both my son and I have enjoyed our rides immensely. YMMV Laurel


July 1999

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.


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.


I started bicycling with my baby when he was one month old. We bought a Burley D'Lite trailer. It is expensive but worth every penny. The design has been perfected over the years and I feel that my son is very safe in it. You cannot notice much difference in how your bike handles however it is heavy and requires a pretty experienced cyclist if you're going up any hills. I'm a bit of a nut case in this department so I enjoy the added workout. Missing Link in Berkeley is a great place to get one. Until my child was six months, we put a car seat in the trailer and now (he's 9 months) he just sits up in it surrounded by pillows and uses a bike helmet. He loves it. He sleeps soundly in it which I love, and I get my exercise. Its great. Handles up to 100 lbs.
I would like to comment on the safety aspect. I have been struck by three cars in a two year period biking to Cal Berkeley. Once on Solano, once on Milvia, and once on Hopkins. Normally I would say this must be the bikers fault as you only have to sit at an intersection for 5 minutes to observe a bicycle rider running stop signs, or other common infractions, but in all three cases I had the right of way and the car drivers just plain did not see me. Two were stopped at stop signs, then pulled out and hit me. One pulled up along side of me, then turned right and hit me. Now I bus, and would never dream of biking with my child in this area.
I ferried my daughter around on the back of a bike for over a year, from when she was old enough to hold up her head well until she was just too heavy! To be honest, it's probably one of the least safe ways to cart a kid around, compared to walking, riding BART, and driving. But we never had any injuries. Safety depends on a lot of things, like your skill and judgment as a rider, where you ride, protective gear, etc. It should go without saying that both you and baby wear properly-adjusted well-fitting Snell-certified helmets (and you actually read the owner's manual on the helmets so you know better than to put them on the back of the kid's head as if they were some kind of Lexan sunbonnet), and that you obsessively strap baby in just snugly enough, and don't get on the road until every last thing is just right no matter how long it takes. The first thing we did with our baby was put the helmet on her, strap her in, and then drop the bike trying to get on (you can't swing your leg over the back when there's a baby sitting there!). She and the bike fell on their sides, and she was definitely displeased, but she wasn't hurt. We picked them up, cleaned her off, and got going after a little while. She always enjoyed it.

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.


From: a bike-riding mom (11/98)

Dear Parents,
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.


Where to Buy Bike Seats

From: Fran (7/98)

VeloSport (MLK and Virginia) and Solano Cyclery (on Solano in Albany, just east of Safeway) both carried it when we got ours 5 years ago. I wouldn't be surprised if prices vary by a few dollars from store to store. Also: there is more than one model of Rhode Gear bike seat. We've had the two top models-- I think they're called the Taxi and the Limo. The Limo's front safety bar is longer lasting and probably more convenient than the Taxi's, but they were both very sturdy seats. And Rhode Gear is good at sending replacement parts when necessary, for safety's sake.

Our Taxi model also tipped back for resting. The main difference I noticed between the Taxi and Limo is the restraint system. I thought the Limo's was easier to use and its restraining bar was sturdier. However, when our son became strong enough to pull off the Taxi's restraining bar, RhodeGear said the restraining straps were enough and not to worry about it.


From: Cindy (7/98)

we just purchased a rhodegear limo...i called all the bikestores in berkeley and oakland and virtually all carry the brand. the taxi is less expensive ($99-100); the limo reclines for when your child falls asleep and is $118-120. if you want to put the rack on more than one bike (the seat easily detaches), a separate rack costs $43-45. i have found the owners at square wheel to be very knowledgeable about baby/kid biking stuff, but i recommend just going to your cloest bikeshop since prices are comparable and depending on your bike frame, you may need some extra assistance when installing the rack.


May 1997

Hi, I was the one who asked a few months ago about bike seats. My question was specifically about back seats vs trailers, and the age at which babies can start riding, but people replied with useful general information too. Below are the replies I got (I didn't know whether I should keep or strip contributors' names, so erred on the side of anonymity, but if you want to know who said something i can look it up). Basically the advice, in summary form, is:

  1. for commuting in traffic, you probably want a back-rack-top seat (for visibility) preferably mounted on a mountain bike, and the recommended brand of seat is Rhode Gear;
  2. for pleasure riding on bike trails, you probably want a trailer (for non-tippiness), and the recommended brand is Burley;
  3. for older kids, there is also an attachment available that turns your bike into sort of a tandem so the kid gets pedals and handlebars and everything;
  4. and of course, always wear your own helmet and have the kid wear one too.
(see the following for the full summary) Joyce
Hi, I bicycle a lot and my parents-in-law have offered to buy us a baby-seat for my bike. Does anyone know whether the kind that sits above the rear wheel is safer, or the trailer type? I'd be interested in hearing anything else you know about these things too. The baby is currently 5 months old and can pretty much sit up by himself, if that matters. For the time being we've just been taking the bus, which is fine most of the time, so there's no rush, if he's still too young. I'd want something that we could keep using till he can ride by himself.
In response to the bike seat inquiry: Because of the helmet law, most children are not able to ride in child bike seats until they are around 1 yr old and can safely sit and wear a helmet. If considering the trailer (ie Burley is best!), then I believe you can place an infant car seat in it until the child is old enough to sit and wear the helmet. The tricky thing about helmets is that once they fit the child, my experience is that the child DOES NOT want to wear it! Double check with your peditrician as to when he/she recommends taking your tot out in a bike seat or trailer and then have fun.

BTW: We have the Road Gear bike seat and our toddler loves riding in it and finally loves to wear her helmet, especially since Mommy and Daddy wear theirs as well.

Trish. mom of 22-mo-old


I have been commuting to work for over a year with my son, who will be 2 in July, stopping at daycare en route to UCB. We live in North Oakland and I work on the east side of campus--our roundtrip commute is about 3 1/2 miles. We use a RhodeGear bicycle seat which mounts on a back rack. I chose a bike seat over a trailer because I like the idea of Simon being as close to me and the orientation of the bike as possible, and because the combination of bad road conditions (potholes, variable bike lanes, stupid drivers, etc) and plain & simple traffic seemed like too many variables to navigate and control.

We use front panniers mounted on a (recrafted) front rack to carry diapers, lunches, laundry and whatever else we are carrying that day. I think a trailer would be preferable in more suburban, or at least less urban environment, or when Simon gets older because his movements (gesturing wildly at a cat crossing the road...a lost balloon...) can really make the bike sway. It is hard work carrying so much stuff if you add up the pounds (child, seat, wet diapers, bottles, 2 lunches, extra pants...something to the tune of 37-40 extra pounds!) but it sure is a lot of fun and feels really good to get off of a bicycle at the end of the trip, better than look for a parking place. Simon and I can sing, stop and look at things, and get lots of fresh air just getting to and from work, and it is such a pleasure. There is an article in the April issue of Mothering magazine about bicycling with babies & children which gives more good advice about gear, but I think most of it is attitude and commitment to bicycling. The lovely lad in the checkered pants is Simon and that's his mom on her trusty steed!! Good luck! Claire


I've always used a bike seat, rather than a trailer, for my kids -- they're much cheaper! Here are my thoughts on the decision, in no particular order:

1) I'd be reluctant to put a child much under 1 year old on a bicycle. Their necks are not strong enough to hold the helmet up. In Massachusetts, it's illegal to have a child under 1 on a bike; I'm not sure about in a trailer, but they do still need a helmet.

2) RhodeGear makes great bike seats ($70-$120, I think) that are extremely easy to mount and demount from your bike. We started with a cheap one from Toys R Us, and it was terrible, despite the advertisement "mounts without tools" on the box.

3) Bikes are definitely less stable with a child seat. I compensate by lowering my seat so I can put my feet almost flat on the ground, and have never had any trouble. The advantages to bike seats over trailers are that you can have a conversation with your child while you ride, and you don't have to worry about the trailer in tight places. If you'll be commuting on city streets with the baby, I'd get the bike seat; if you'll mostly be sticking to bike trails for recreational use, the trailer would be better.

4) As far as I know, neither one will hold your child until s/he is big enough to ride a bike without training wheels. Bike trailers are generally rated for ages 1-4; kids will grow out of a bike seat between ages 3-4 (my very small daughter barely fit through age 4.5).

5) There are trailers, made by Adams Trail-A-Bike, that will hold older kids -- the child rides on a regular bike seat and has pedals and handlebars. I use one now for commuting and drop my daughter off at school on the way to work. It's a little scary riding through the city with a trailer -- they're not very maneuverable, and even with the tall warning flag I'm afraid that some drivers won't notice the trailer. However, at least it's narrower than my bike, unlike the trailers for little kids. I think that some of these trailers can also be mounted with an infant seat, so you could look into getting one for the baby, but I'd be more comfortable with the bike seat.

Happy bicycling! Beth


Hi Joyce,
I've used both the seats and the trailers and there's really no question in my mind that the trailers are MUCH safer. Having the seat on the back of the bike makes the bike very unstable. Also, if the bike goes down with a seat on the back, your child goes down with it. But, if the bike goes down with a good trailer, your child just sits back there and giggles at you... A well made trailer will also have a "roll bar" type of structure in case you do somehow manage to roll the thing over (which is VERY hard to do).

I've had a trailer made by "Burley" for several years and I recommend them VERY highly! It folds up pretty small, converts to a great stroller, and I think it's very safe. I was even hit (well, nudged) by a van once with my daughter in the trailer and she didn't even notice ('till she saw me screamin' at the bonehead who did it).

In any case, 5 months is probably still a little young. I would wait until you can fit a helmet on him (and he can still hold his head up). Our pediatrician made me wait until our daughter was about 10 months. And don't you dare take him anywhere in a seat or a trailer without a helmet on both of you! :) Craig


I pretty much discounted using a trailer for my son simply because of the idea of having him sit so close to the exhaust pipes of other vehicle on the road.

When he was one, I got the cheapest toddler seat model available, and he loved riding with me right away. The helmet was no problem, only he always made sure that I would wear mine too! I also love being able to talk with him and knowing I can check on him whenever I want to. The problem now is that he weighs 45 lbs at 3, and the seat has a max. capacity of 40 lbs. I love the idea of trailers in terms of weight distribution and carrying capacity, but not in the middle of city traffic. Eric


Just wanted to add something on getting kids to wear bike helmets: we got lots of cool, reflective stickers and put them all over my son's bike helmet and my own. Castles, dragons, spaceships, dolphins, rhinos, stars, birds, you name it. This worked well for us and my son has never objected to wearing his helmet. Of course, I always wear mine too, being a proper role model.

Dianna


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