Everybody wants to be able to enjoy a leisurely bike ride with their kids, and in the past we’ve even reviewed a few products that allow you to do just that – i.e. enjoy your biking pastime with your children.
All parents are concerned with safety, and if you follow our top 5 tips for riding safely with kids, you can ensure you are doing your level best when it comes to carrying the most precious cargo of all – your children.
Map and Plan out your route
Try and steer away from busy streets as these are no fun navigating, especially if you have younger children. Try and find the quieter roads where you can also practice riding with a child “on-board”. Believe me, having a child strapped into a bike-seat changes the overall stability of your bike and you need to get used to how the extra weight affects your driving ability. Children are masters at getting bored and may start to fidget and move around in the seat, so be aware of how an extra person’s movement affects overall stability. Another thing you definitely need to practice is stopping, dismounting and even signalling for a turn, as these tasks are all more challenging with child-on-board.
Check for Safety Standards
This is precious cargo that you will be carrying around, so always ensure you check the label of the seat for applicable safety standards. We all want to save a few dollars, but avoid the temptation of buying on the cheap from garage-sales or where you suspect the seat does not conform to the applicable safety standards or is even unlabelled. Also, check the weight rating of the seat, as some seats are designed for infants, whereas others are designed to carry toddlers. Most seats will specify a weight range somewhere between 5kg to 25kg, so weigh your child before deciding on the purchase.
No helmet – No Ride!
This goes without saying, but I cannot recount the number of times I’ve seen parents riding around the neighbourhood without adequate head protection. Even if you are just going down to the shops or around the corner, make sure you put that helmet on. Children’s skulls are extremely fragile, and any accident or fall can have serious repercussions. Not only that, but by leading by example you get your child into the habit of putting their own helmet own.
Dependent on the temperatures, make sure you cover your child up if its cold. A hat, scarf or a coat will ensure they don’t get cold enjoying the ride, especially since they are just passengers and will not be peddling. And speaking of peddling, make sure you engage the lower gears when climbing steep hills, as children can certainly add on that extra weight and you will definitely feel it.
Ensure your child is strapped in
You may be surprised to learn that the most common injury for children on bikes in not from them falling off, rather it is from their feet getting wedged between the spokes. Make sure you use a seat that has foot rests that can act as a shield between the dangling feet and the spokes. If you are concerned about safety as well as comfort, look for seats with high backs to support the child’s back when riding. Wrap-around seats and seats with handrests are also great for safety as well as comfort.
Always ensure harness is fitted
You can opt for a trailer, a front-mounted seat or more popularly a seat that mounts on a rear luggage carrier. Whichever option you go for, make sure that your bike can take the weight.
We all want to enjoy time with our kids when riding, but don’t skimp on the child seat thinking they are all the same. Take care with your precious cargo and enjoy that time with your children. Safe Riding!