Bike Trailers

Parent Q&A

  • My husband and I are looking for a way to bike around with an older baby (10 month or older), 30 pound dog, and stuff (e.g. groceries or food for a day trip). 

    Our thought now is a bike trailer that could be moved between our bikes at will, plus an electric assist for my bike (bad knee). We strongly prefer the trailer to a bike seat for safety reasons; I know there is some ambiguity on this point but it is our preference based on friends' experience. 

    The bike trailers we have looked at so far unfortunately have the following problems:

    • seat too big for our child to be buckled in safely
    • limited suspension, thus possible injury/discomfort for child? 
    • no place for dog or stuff to fit and not crush the child (the dog can run for 10 miles, happily, so it's not essential but nice if we took a longer day trip somewhere)

    We are wondering if any very creative Berkeley parents ​have very creative suggestions. My husband is thinking of building us a trailer to use, perhaps one that could even buckle in her carseat. Does anyone have experience with this? 

    Or perhaps getting a cargo bike. I am 5'7" and he is 6'3" so one concern is that only one of us would be able to comfortably use it. Is that so, or is there a way to configure it so we both could use it?

    I have kids + dogs + stuff and bike everywhere. In my experience trailers simply aren’t big enough for everything. There’s also no way to separate dog and kid and no way to monitor interactions since the trailer is in the back. So when the boundary pushing 1-6 year old decides pulling the dog’s ears (or biting the dog) is an awesome idea and the dog can’t get away, a potentially dangerous situation is created.

    The easiest / cheapest solution is to put the kid in a bike seat and dog + stuff in a trailer. I know you don’t like the idea of the bike seat, so another far more expensive option is a front loading box bike (Larry & Harry Bullitt, Yuba Supermarche, Douze, etc). They have cargo area that’s a little bigger than a trailer and having the dog share the cargo area is less of an issue because you can monitor the interactions. Another option is a long tail cargo bike (Xtracycle, Yuba Spicy Curry, etc) with a kid seat on the deck and a box / crate or Xtracycle Side Car on the side for the dog. These will have massive carrying capacity while riding like a normal bike, but kiddo would be in a bike seat.

    At your listed heights, I think you can find a cargo bike to share if that’s what you want to do. I’m 5’ 5” and have no problem riding my 6’2” buddy’s large frame size Xtracycle adjusted down. 

    Safe biking!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Questions

Urban road rules for bike trailers

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


Biking with my 2 year old plus errands --bike seat or trailer?

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 holds a lot and is fun but also heavy and expensive... 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 vs. 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


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


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


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


Earlier advice about bike trailers


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

 


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


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


 

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


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


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.