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A DIY kid seat and the debate about bike seatbelts

Posted by on December 10th, 2008 at 10:39 am

A DIY kid seat for a Kona Ute longtail bike. Photo taken in bike racks at Trillium Charter School on N. Interstate Ave.
(Photos © J. Maus)

I’m not sure what is about my daughters’ school, but the bike racks are always full of distractions for a bike geek like me. Remember the mini-tall-furry bike?

DIY baby seat on a Kona Ute-3
Nicely done, but it could use some padding.

One of the more interesting (and growing) categories of bikes I’m noticing are family bikes. The other day, I noticed a pair of women who rolled up with their kids from SE Portland. One of them had the Xtracycle/child seat combo and the other had a Kona Ute longtail with a bit of DIY flair — a fully-custom, wooden baby seat with an integrated deck.

It seemed to work great and it even had some safety restraints, which leads me to the next part of my story…

Last week, our Family Biking columnist Marion Rice wrote about how she keeps her little ones happy on the bike. Apparently, someone read that story and then asked local blogger/muckracker/smart guy Jack Bogdanski the following question:

“Why is it alright to stick three kids in a bucket attached to a bike and ride around on Portland streets, but you get a ticket if you don’t have them seat belted in your car?”

Mr. Bogdanski thought that was a “good question” and he posted it on his blog. A long and heated discussion ensued (that revolved mostly around the usual topics of the relative safety of biking versus other modes, etc…).

The thread was then picked up by our friends at Copenhagenize in a post titled, Portland Debate.

This topic, similar to calls for bike licensing and increased law enforcement of bicycle laws, are emblematic of a certain group of people who can sense the rising tide of bike use and who feel that along with that rise, bikes should shoulder all the same legal/financial responsibilities of cars (it’s only fair right?!).

Kids in the Haley cargo Trike
My girls and I trying
out a Haley Trike.

I think this topic sparked discussion for another reason: Many Americans who don’t regularly ride a bike think doing so, especially on streets alongside cars, is suicide. This mindset exists for many reasons, mostly perhaps due to a constant fear-mongering around bikes in many media outlets.

For those folks, anyone who would pull a child around in a trailer, or plop them on a rack or in a bucket of a bike, is completely out of their mind. I’ve heard stories from moms pulling kids in trailers who were yelled at by people in cars for endangering their children.

But I digress. Back to the safety belt issue. I asked bike lawyer Mark Ginsberg (who turns out, took a tax law class from Mr. Bogdanski years ago) if there was any Oregon law pertaining to child restraints on bicycles.

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He said no. In the U.S., he noted, all products sold must pass certain safety requirements doled out by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, but there is often no legal requirement to use those products (like helmets, for instance).

For more insight, I referred to lawyer Ray Thomas’ Pedal Power legal handbook. Oregon Revised Statute 814.460 is the only law I could find that pertains to carrying people on bicycles. It states:

A person commits the offense of unlawful passengers on a bicycle if the person operates a bicycle and carries more persons on the bicycle than the number for which it is designed or safely equipped.

What about ORS 814.400, “Application of vehicle laws to bicycles”? That law says a person riding a bicycle is subject to “the provisions applicable to and has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle.” That might give some legal muscle to a call for seat belts for bikers. But it goes on to say that it applies except when, “Those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.”

Ginsberg, an expert on bike-related law, said he doesn’t think motor vehicle seat belt laws would apply to bicycles.

All of this is interesting to me because, as bicycles become a more respected and larger part of our transportation mix, we will come face to face with the reality that the vast majority of our existing traffics laws were written exclusively for cars. Bike advocates and bike-friendly politicians have worked diligently for years to chip away at the vehicle code, but it’s still generally thought of as a “motor vehicle code”.

Similar to how our thinking about bikeway engineering needs to evolve, I think we should begin to consider not just trying to accomodate bicycles in the existing vehicle code, but perhaps it’s time to create an entirely separate legal framework for bicycles. Not more laws, but more clarity of existing laws and a recognition that many laws that pertain to motor vehicles, simply are not applicable to human-powered ones.

What do you think?

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Comments
  • peejay December 10, 2008 at 10:50 am

    For whatever reason, I’m reminded of the story about a Danish woman who was prosecuted in New York City for child abandonment because she left her baby carriage outside the store she was shopping in. It’s a perfectly normal thing to do in Denmark, but apparently, you cannot leave your kids alone for a second in this country. I’d hate to see that kind of attitude infect the bike world. Can’t we just let parents make the call on safety? I know there are a lot of irresponsible parents out there, but…

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  • ayresjk December 10, 2008 at 11:06 am

    It seems to me that a child on the back of a Xtracycle is in no more danger than a child on a trail-a-bike. In fact, one could argue that they are safer on the Xtracycle! let it be up to the parents what they do, but I know I would feel safer with my kids strapped in and not free to wiggle about. (although currently my only “child” is 75 lbs and Furry with a strong affinity towards squirrels!) it also seems that it would be safer for the parent ie “operator of the vehicle” to not have to worry about the passengers affecting their control of the bike as much.

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  • mmann December 10, 2008 at 11:08 am

    I’m not surprised at the “geekiness” of the bike paraphernalia seen at Trillium. The school tends to attract those thinking outside the box. (My son is a student there). I hope they soon have class offerings – at least in the upper grades – focusing on practical transportation designs like the one shown. I appreciate this picture since I’m getting ready to do an xtracycle conversion and my wife and I were just discussing the fact that our three-year old still falls asleep in the trailer. You don’t want that happening on a longtail. This gives me a solution.

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  • Billy December 10, 2008 at 11:15 am

    a seatbelt for toddlers? OK.
    a seatbelt for me? GFY.

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  • John Lascurettes December 10, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Where does the law fall on sidecars on motorcycles? Are there requirements for restraints there?

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  • John Lascurettes December 10, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Let’s also get another thing straight here:

    Seat belts protect children because when a car goes from 50-0 in 0 seconds, it’s the only fighting chance for survival.

    The dynamics of inertia for a bike are quite different based on its speeds and mass. Different rules apply as they do for motorcycles and are different still from motorcycles.

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  • Bob December 10, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Are there any studies out there that point to bicycle seat belts as increasing the safety of children? Moreover, are there cases where a bicycle seat belt would have saved a child’s life or protected a child from injury?

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  • Dave December 10, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Copenhagenize.com and David Hembrow (who lives in a small town in the Netherlands) often deal with the issues of bike licenses and subjective safety of cycling (that is, how people perceive the safety of riding a bike). Some recent posts regarding these topics:

    http://www.copenhagenize.com/2008/12/bike-licences-are-stupid.html

    http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2008/12/extreme-sport.html

    I think the issues of bicycle infrastructure and bicycle law are kind of intertwined. I think if bicycles were more separated from car traffic, it would be easier for people to conceptualize different laws for them, even possibly regarding taxes they pay for upkeep (since they would be primarily using bike paths and not car roads). I don’t know for sure how that would all work out, but it seems to me that they go hand in hand a bit. I think it definitely does make sense to have written into law specificities with regards to bicycles that differ from how a similar situation would be handled with a car, as the two really are vastly different in a lot of respects.

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  • Coyote December 10, 2008 at 11:30 am

    I seem to remember reading an article about safety belts and motor bikes. Testing indicated that since two wheel vehicles did not offer any crash protection, like a cage does, trauma was lower to the rider if he detached freely from the motorcycle due to a lower mass and different deceleration of the “free body”. It has been 25 years since I read that article so it may be subject to some fog.

    The conclusion seems to make sense to me. However, if the little rascals can’t be trusted to sit still, you are probably better off strapping them down.

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  • Do you strap into your Harley? December 10, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Do motorcyclists wear seatbelts? No of course not. Seatbelts are effective because they keep you restrained inside of a safety cage, something that does not exist on any two wheeled vehicle.

    Also many bike injuries occur from falls, and being able to separate yourself from the bike quickly can result in less serious injuries, something which any mountain biker can attest to.

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  • PdxMark December 10, 2008 at 11:49 am

    The question of how bikes ought to fit into the vehicle code gets to the root of how bikes fit into society. Despite having age-old statutes like the one’s in Jonathan’s article, bikes have been mostly treated as being somewhat outside any specific legal enforcement. With our increasing ridership here in Portland we cyclists are much more visible and significant and have earned the attention of motorists and the Portland Police Bureau. This attention will continue to increase as ridership continues to grow.

    The discussion I think we need is one about the extent to which cyclists should treat riding on roads with the same legal rigor that motorists are supposed to or whether cyclists should be freer to comply with road rules on more of a case-by-case basis. (Most of us cyclists are probably in the latter group, to a greater or lesser degree.) The angry motorist faction is strongly in the first camp. If we generally think there ought to be more flexibility in the application of road rules to cyclists, then I think we should figure out a defensible explanation for that flexibility and any reasonable limits to it. If we can’t figure out a defensible explanation, then I think the reasonable conclusion is that we cyclists should follow all the bike-applicable rules of the road to the same extent that we follow road rules when we drive.

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  • red hippie December 10, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Cool seat design, although there is a wonderful invention called a router that rounds off edges.

    Cheers

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  • GlowBoy December 10, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Red hippie, that seat shows enough craftsmanship that I’m sure its builder knows what a router is.

    Here’s an idea: maybe it was built by a busy parent who decided to spend an extra hour with their child rather than do nonessential work on a perfectly functional seat. Or maybe they just finished building it and still have plans to round off the edges, apply a finish to the wood, or “fix” other “flaws” seen by the armchair critics.

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  • Steven J December 10, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    I always thought the kids may be safer facing to the rear, with proper head restraint. (HANS) device-like.

    As for legal stuff.. I’m sure as bikes become more main stream, laws governing their safe use will become more political.
    Sadly, it will take many a dead/maimed cyclists to even get attention.
    Till then, take safety into your own hands and assume every driver could potentially assassinate you.

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  • Matthew Denton December 10, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    I think the point of a seatbelt in a seat like that is to keep the child from deciding to get out of the seat while you are riding/stopping (it isn’t like they have handlebars to brace against while you are slowing down quickly,) not because of any sort of crash protection…

    In general, it seems like the only thing that a seatbelt would do would be to drag the bicycle with you into the crash, which I don’t see a lot of value to, (and a lot of people will probably do anyways because they are clipped in.) But what if you needed to stand up and pedal? Would that be illegal, or would you have to undo and redo your seatbelt every time? And a lot of people don’t actually sit on their seat when they are stopped at a traffic light, they stand just in front of it. Would they have to undo and redo their seat belt every time they stopped? And would all those people messing with their seat belts after traffic lights and at the top and bottoms of hills be more dangerous than whatever damage protection the seat belt offered? (And given that I don’t see much protection, that seems pretty likely…)

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  • Zaphod December 10, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    Parents know best how to take care of their kids. We don’t need anyone second guessing how we get around. Surely there’s a line between acceptable risk and gross negligence. A parent will never intentionally put their kid at risk. We don’t need rules for this.

    If we use the tag-a-long bicycle as a benchmark then *any* of these longtail designs are at least as safe assuming they are properly attached to the bike.

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  • Pete December 10, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    A question to pose to Mr. Bogdanski’s readers may be “why aren’t motor vehicle drivers required to wear bicycle helmets?”

    The answer is because of the level and type of safety required for the mode of transportation. I wear a motorcycle helmet when I ride a motorcycle, but it’s overkill for a bicycle. I wear a bike helmet when cycling, but as Matthew points out it’d probably be dangerous to strap the extra mass to yourself with a seatbelt. I wear a seatbelt when I drive (surrounded by airbags, anti-lock brakes, and electronic slip protection), but somehow I suspect styrofoam would offer little additional crash mitigation.

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  • Icarus Falling December 10, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    There s a requirement for a legal bike seat in portland, as evidenced by past tickets for riding on a device without a proper seat.

    Tickets have been given to passengers on homemade racks on tall bikes. To passengers on the racks of Xtracycles. To passengers sitting on the seat while another stands and pedals. To overweight passengers (adult is what I meant) in trailers. And to someone riding on the handlebars, and even on the top tube.

    I believe the only way to carry your child on a bike is in a trailer, or in a fully qualified child seat.

    While the child seat shown is nice, I would not place my child (if I had one) or one of my nieces or nephews, if under the age of truly understanding safety, on a rack in a wooden or plastic seat, ever……

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  • anna December 10, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    It seems odd to me that this amount of controversy should surround bicycle restraints and yet there is no similar discussion to seatbelts on Tri-met buses. Many, many, many, MANY years ago a high profile oregonian was involved in a bus crash (perhaps it was Hatfield?) and then there was some discussion about safety for bus passengers.

    Back when I was still a bus commuter and worked in Tualatin, I recall riding the 96 bus which is an express and just barrels down I-5 at 50 mph…with no seatbelts.

    I figured the spot where I might get the least impact to my body and bones was the side seat near the rear exit, where I figured that possible injuries could be a broken collarbone — every other area of the bus seemed to be an invitation to have your body thrown through the vehicle if there was a collision.

    Anyway, I just don’t understand the double standard. I don’t want to buy into the mentality that bicyclists are “victims” of an autocentric society, but it is always interesting that safety vis-a-vis bike riders is meant to be an imposition of restraint, rather than a genuine concern for our safety (tho I think that’s patronizing).

    In the meantime, it takes a former politician to be in a serious vehicle crash before a major transit system even entertains the notion that there should be safety restraints offered as an option to bus riders.

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  • mark ginsberg December 10, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Question about comment 18, Icarus, can you give me some more specifics about the rack/seat tickets? I have tried bike seats cases in the past, but was not aware of any in the recent past.
    There are some requirements, but so long as the bike is “designed” for the use, the user and passenger should be okay under Oregon law.
    markjginsberg@yahoo.com.
    Mark Ginsberg

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  • todd December 10, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    the xtracycle deck is designed as a seat, so ticketing passengers there is bogus

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  • GlowBoy December 10, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    I believe that under Oregon law, to qualify as a legal seat there must also be footrests intended for that purpose. If you have an xtracycle and install the Footsies accessory, you’re good. That’s why they sell them.

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  • patrick December 10, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Given that motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for kids in this country, the “bicycle seatbelt” argument is simply a distraction from the real issue.

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  • Randy December 10, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Children who ride their bike have no need for a seat belt – they are free to ride.

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  • LizardMama December 10, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Comment #I carry both my kids on my Xtracycles (sometimes one kid, sometimes two). My daughter rides strapped in a bobike seat until I am certain she understands her responsibility to keep her bum happily attached to the padded snapdeck, keep her hands (most of them) on the handlebars we made for the passengers, keep her feet on the running boards we made, and not wiggle about while we are loading or riding. Her bro has it down and I feel secure that he is MUCH safer on the back of my bike than on his, and MOST times safer than when we just plain walk about. I have one kid that is slow as molasses when walking and another that runs. So when put that way… they are contained on my bike and can’t get away.

    It is my responsibility to operate my “vehicle” safely and be aware of where we are, not put us in situations where there is too much traffic, and make the choice to use another transportation mode if we aren’t going to be safe. A seatbelt doesn’t fix all that.

    Also, the only time we have dumped the xtracycle so far I started from a stop down a driveway apron while turning (duh)and we tipped over. My son, who wasn’t strapped on in any way said, “Oh Mom, that was cool, do that again” as he rolled off and stood up. My daughter was the only one strapped in and the only one scraped (though fine).

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  • Kt December 10, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    StevenJ#13, a HANS only works with 5-point harnesses… as do most other head and neck restraints, although the Leatt brace and the R3 might work without the specialized harnesses. The R3 straps to the body and attaches to the helmet in a similar fashion as the HANS. Tha HANS sits on your shoulders and relies on the shoulder harnesses to keep it in place.

    I am not sufficiently versed in the Leatt, although I understand some downhillers are using a version of it that has been modified for non-race harness use by the manufacturer.

    All that aside, Head and neck retraints are appropriate if you are racing your car, and not if you are just riding around on your bike. Head and neck retraint devices are meant to prevent internal decapitation due to acceleration of your head in relation to your body– essentially, tethering your head to the restraint devices already in place.

    Having used one in competition (cars, not bikes) I can say that it won’t be a)practical, b)cost efficient, and c)worthwhile to have kids wear one while riding with parents. Besides, you wouldn’t be able to attach the hardware to a standard bike helmet, you’d need at least a motorcycle helmet.

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  • John Reinhold December 10, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    I refuse to live in the shadow of fear of losing my child, even though that is my greatest fear.

    I pray for my daughter to have a life without trauma yet I would not curse her to a life without risk.

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  • Dylan December 10, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    I used to read these bikeportland.org articles and they were always so unbiased. I’m liking that they’re coming with some driven opinion and emotion now.
    How does the statistic go? 99.99% of traffic incidents have a motor vehicle related; bicycles are considered dangerous.

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  • John Russell December 10, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    Just like #10 said, you wouldn’t wear one on a motorcycle, or a motorboat for that matter. Not even a small rowboat. Nearly every single collision I have recently avoided could not have been avoided had I been wearing a seatbelt of some type.

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  • Ian Chow-Miller December 11, 2008 at 8:34 am

    In response to the original question about bike seat belts, and all the further discussion regarding safety, two people on a bicycle, helmets, traffic, motor vehicles, etc. I offer this view of a society where bicycles are omni-present, yet none of the above issues are even considered:

    http://www.ski-epic.com/amsterdam_bicycles/

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  • mabsf December 11, 2008 at 11:10 am

    “Many Americans who don’t regularly ride a bike think doing so, especially on streets alongside cars, is suicide.”

    Guess how surprised I was to hear on NPR that Cars are #2 reason of death for kids between 5 – 9! (I know, old news for us bikers!)

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  • David December 11, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Ian Chow-Miller: it is indeed very very rare for a utility cyclist to wear helmets over here in the Netherlands. It’s also rare for children above an age where they have the sense not to jump out to be strapped into child seats on bicycles. You can buy baby seats for babies from 4 months old, who also don’t wear helmets. Virtually all children cycle to school, rush hour involves a lot of bikes and it’s the safest place in the world to be a cyclist.

    Omni-present is absolutely right.

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  • I wonder if I could tie the ocean to your knees... December 11, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    This is Portland, NOT the Netherlands people!

    Different, different different.

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  • I wonder if I could tie the ocean to your knees... December 11, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    This is Portland, NOT the Netherlands people!

    Different, different different.

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  • justa December 11, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    I haven’t read all the replies here, but the first thought that comes to mind for me is that I would feel *extremely* unsafe being tied to my bike. Being able to separate myself from it in a split second in case of a mishap is a necessity. I don’t know how I would feel about strapping a kid (one old enough to stay upright on bike) to one behind me, either…

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  • jim December 11, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Nobody has really talked about babies. I know this would be an entirely different issue. Do you know why babies need to be facing the rear in a car seat? It is because at that age their head is large compared to the rest of their body and too heavy to restrain in a collision. A baby facing forward can become decapitated on impact. Sorry if that is too graphic, but that is why they must face the rear in a car. A car striking a bicycle head on at 20 miles per hr. would be devastating anything faster would well..
    How do some of you moms or dads carry your babies? there should be some rules in place to protect innocent children from foolish decisions made by their parents.
    I see the idea of a seat belt on a bike being much different than for a car. In most cases I don’t see any benifit for someone using a seatbelt other than to confine movements of the passenger so the rider can maintain control and proper balance….
    for the most part it seems more dangerous to be connected to a bike that is being tossed about in a colision.
    Its all a quagmire that somone needs to figure out

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  • todd December 11, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    jim, a car striking a bicycle at virtually any common legal street speed (in the US) is a nightmare for all outside the cage, regardless of their level of (reasonable) padding or restraint, and regardless of the age of the victims.

    as for someone figuring out the quagmire, largely they have in the netherlands. any time there’s a bicycle-car or pedestrian-car collision there, the car is assumed to be liable unless otherwise proven. this leads to safe enough a street environment that children still play in the streets and babies are carried on bikes from birth without fuss.

    and in japan, “to protect innocent children from foolish decisions made by their parents,” it is illegal to drop kids off at daycare or school in a car.

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  • jim December 12, 2008 at 12:03 am

    still though- how do you carry a baby on a bike?

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  • todd December 12, 2008 at 8:38 am

    i carried my baby in a car seat strapped into a trailer with the tires at low pressure. wasn’t a very bike-friendly area, so we went so slowly and cautiously that it was barely faster than walking.

    at 9 months, we moved him to a front-mount seat, incidentally mounted on an xtracycle. we continued using bike-mount seats except for inclement weather or rides over 10 miles, where we’d use the trailer. that is, until the bakfiets obsoleted the trailer. many parents strap car seats into bakfietsen, and that’s what i’d do if i had a baby now.

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  • David December 12, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Jim: How do you carry a baby on a bike ? Just as is shown in the photo on this page.

    This is a commercial product, and very commonly seen.

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  • anna December 12, 2008 at 9:23 am

    # 37 – todd, do you mind clarifying when such a law was put into place in japan? or could it possibly be a prefecture-level law?

    ‘sup with #33/34 — come again?

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  • todd December 12, 2008 at 9:59 am

    anna, re japan: http://carfreetokyo.blogspot.com/2008/02/catchment-area.html

    re #33/34: some people apparently believe that the laws of physics vary greatly from locale to locale. either that or they are pretending not to understand that the point is to learn from example, change culture and facilities to support a more humane, convivial, beautiful conception of urban mobility.

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  • Zaphod December 12, 2008 at 10:56 am

    We got approval from our pediatrician to carry our 8 week old on the bike. This was in the athletically minded town of Boulder, CO. The setup was pretty sweet, I installed the car seat attachment into the bike trailer, backwards of course. The kid was truly snug as a bug and very well protected from jostling and such. I’d always take bumps and transitions slowly. The ease of clicking the seat in/out in seconds was so nice.

    Our routes in Boulder included lots of separated bikeways and low traffic streets… it was pretty tame and peaceful.

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  • anna December 12, 2008 at 10:57 am

    thanks todd! While we would visit Tokyo on a regular basis there is simply no way to get to know the entire megapolis as a visitor — only if you live there…but I’d have to say that while mainland Japan enjoys a great transportation system that is more friendly to peds and cyclists, this would not fly where I’m from because there are too many US military bases!

    i think in THAT sense the laws of physics, diligent tho they may be, do not have much to offer when it comes to geopolitics and military occupation.

    lol on #33…

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  • eileen December 12, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    David, #40, as a mother, that pic gives me the heebie jeebies. Are you serious??? At least put a little helmet on that baby. I think I would be more comfortable with the baby in a front pack securely nestled against my chest, but I just dont’ think I’d do it with a baby that small.

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  • todd December 12, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    eileen, i’ve seen those basinet holders in use in amsterdam, so yes, seriously. helmet… it takes such a morbidly determined imagination and presumption about the carelessness/incompetence of the parent pilot to conceive of that baby receiving a head injury within the envelope of that “whole body helmet” carrier, 5-point restraint, etc. anyway, nobody makes such tiny helmets. if they did, i think they’d likely pose more risk of neck injury than head injury risk they’d mitigate.

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  • Eileen December 12, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    It just looks vulnerable and a bike seems like such a potentially precarious place to put such a vulnerable thing as a baby so tiny it can’t even hold it’s head up. I mean, would you cart your 10,000 dollar glass chihuly (sp?) sculpture on the back of your bike? Then why your tiny baby?

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  • todd December 12, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    yes, i would transport an expensive glass sculpture on a bike if it wasn’t too big or heavy. bikes are as safe as their riders are careful, once your skills are well developed. it’s the manner, not the mode, that determines risk. bikes are smooth, stable, agile, slow enough: where’s the problem? if there is one, it’s someplace else.

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  • David December 13, 2008 at 12:45 am

    Eileen, people transport their babies like that all the time here. Helmets are very rare on any age group. Children all cycle to school and on school trips. None of them wear helmets.

    The injury and fatality rates for cycling here are very very much lower than in the US due to the design of roads and cycle paths.

    Cyclists come first in the design here. It’s been that way for decades and it pays off. The result is that in cities like this one there are more cycle journeys than car journeys. Bicycle routes are more convenient than driving routes.

    Yesterday I transported a professional video camera worth about $8000 on my bike. It survived.

    When my children were babies they travelled by bike. Now that they are teenagers they cycle anywhere they like on their own.

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  • jami December 13, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    if those people are so concerned about the safety of other people’s children on bikes, they themselves can take one simple step to help ensure it: stop driving.

    bikes move slowly enough that in a bike-only crash, a person wearing a helmet will usually get out with scrapes. it’s cars that seriously threaten children on bikes. i’m cool with it if bogdanski’s concern trolls want to stop driving. for the children.

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  • jim December 13, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    David-
    Thank you for sharing something with us that we don’t get to experience.
    Attitudes are very much different here.
    You would really have to give serious consideration here as to what routes you would take children on. Some of our hiway engineering is quite bad for cyclists, and some routes I would say are for adult or experienced riders only due to the dangers of those routes.
    Bicycle coulture is changing in a fast pace, we need more time though, it won’t happen overnight

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  • Doug December 17, 2008 at 6:51 am

    How come we need to slow down for bumps on our bikes but it is okay to catch air with a baby in an Escalade? My baby trailer has suspension and gives a considerably smoother ride under most conditions than many cars do.
    That said, I am a big believer in walking and I often walk when conditions are dangerous for cycling with my children. I know that this is not an option for everyone, not everyone has the time or energy to walk 20 miles per day.

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  • Brooke July 2, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    It is a stupid argument in my opinion. First off car seats statistically do not save children’s lives past the age of 12 months, usually because of improper installation. So much for child safety when 99% of the population is to stupid to properly install the darn things even though now they come with hooks that snap right into the backseat of the car. Secondly riding a bike is always safer for our children then driving a car. Simply because even if someone recklessly places their child in a Madsen style bike bucket or even rides with their infant in a baby carrier the chance of that infant becoming harmed is much less then the known fact that global warming is occurring partly because we drive cars. Global warming that if we continue to do nothing about will certainly harm our children in the next few decades…

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  • tom October 15, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Thank you for this article- and the courage to suggest parents can make educated decisions about their children’s safety- Any thoughts about a conventional trike and a young child?

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