Family transport on two wheels
>>> Children safer at the back >>> Bucket seats more comfortable >>> Space for two in trailers >>> Practice recommended
Munich. Doing the shopping, picking up a few things, taking the kids to kindergarten or friends -- bicycles are a great way of getting your children from A to B. Manufacturers of bicycle accessories offer a range of options for transporting children on bicycles. TÜV Product Service provides some important hints as to what parents should look out for when purchasing bike child carriers or bike trailers, to make cycling with children as safe as possible:
Child carrier or trailer?
Spoilt for choice: should you opt for a bicycle child carrier or would a bike trailer be better after all? Parents should decide which form of transport is best for them depending on how often, how long and why they use their bikes. If you cycle short distances, mainly in city traffic, child carriers are more suitable: managing curves, narrow roads and oncoming traffic on narrow bicycle paths and avoiding obstacles, such as roadworks, is more difficult with the bulkier add-on trailers.
In trailers, your children sit lower than on bike child carriers, and are therefore also more exposed to exhaust fumes on busy roads as well as at traffic lights.
Trailers offer the advantage that there is no problem transporting two children plus your shopping. Crash tests demonstrate that the injury risk is smaller in bike trailers: in cases of side-on crashes, for example, the trailer is not run over, but "only" pushed in front of the car. The main risk for trailers, are cars turning off right: drivers may see the bicycle, but not the trailer.
Child carrier seats should offer the following:
· A harness or safety bar to secure the child in the seat
· Height adjustable, sturdy footguards with straps
· Side panels and headrest stabilising the carrier seat
· Good padding to ensure comfort
· Adjustable back rest for a more comfortable sitting position
Once the carrier seat has been mounted to the bicycle, parents should add generous spoke guards as additional protection for their childrens feet and should cover all saddle springs, if any (where children may trap their fingers).
Rear or front carrier seats?
Children are generally safer at the rear than at the front. At the rear they are better shielded from wind and insects. Rear-mounted child carrier seats are suitable for children up to 22 kg. Child carrier seats for mounting on the handlebar at the front offer the advantages that communicating with the child is easier and children can see more. However, front-mounted child carriers do not allow for higher backrests and side panels as these may impair the bike riders view. Apart from the above, these child carrier seats are only suitable for children up to 15 kg. Parents should take into account that front-mounted carrier seats render riding dynamics instable and that children may play with the handlebar or the brakes.
Irrespective of whether a child carrier seat is front-mounted to the handlebar or rear-mounted to the rack, the mountings must perfectly fit the tube radius of the bicycle frame, otherwise the seat may slip. To ensure that your child will sit comfortably and that the child carrier seat can be correctly mounted to your bike, it’s best to take along both child and bike when purchasing a child carrier.
"Trailers" - comfortable "pack horses"
Trailers are just ideal for parents who want to transport two children or make longer trips. Kids can comfortably nap on longer distances and parents can even stow away a little luggage. To ensure the safety of your kids, trailers should offer:
· a sturdy rollover bar
· a rigid perimeter cage
· sufficient interior height and width
· a four-point harness
· a low-level tow bar to prevent tipping over
· an all round canopy to protect children from stones, spray and insects and prevent their hands from getting into the wheels
· a safety flag to avoid the risk of being overlooked illuminators and reflectors
Irrespective of whether parents opt for a child carrier seat or trailer, both carrier systems should feature a variety of safety devices. Products offering a high level of safety and quality are distinguished with the TÜV Octagon or the GS mark of TÜV Product Service, TÜV SÜD Group.
TÜV Product Service additionally recommends an overrun brake which significantly reduces the braking distance, and lights on the trailer (the StVZO (German regulations authorising vehicles for road traffic use) require overrun brakes as of 40 kg; lights and reflectors are always required). Some trailer models are highly practical: they convert easily into strollers and are easy to push. However, these trailers must also pass an additional European Standard for wheeled child conveyances. Some models also allow car seats to be safely attached, so that even infants can be transported with a bike.
Parents should always practise cycling with the empty trailer first, to ensure safety. They can simulate their children's weight with water bottles. Riders must bear in mind that they have a larger radius when curving and must not forget the width of the trailer, for example when going through bollards. As a general rule, both children and parents should wear safety helmets.