Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Is carrying someone on your bike illegal?

Posted by on April 26th, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Sunday Parkways Northeast 2009-64

Fun, yes; but legal?
(Photos @ J. Maus)

Back in February, Portlander Ken Southerland got a ticket for attempting to give a friend a ride on the back rack of his bicycle. In the summer of 2007, I saw two Portland Police officers issue a ticket to a man on Alberta Street for the same offense. In the latter case, the man was operating a tall bike with a home made wooden deck on the back (see photo below).

In Oregon, there’s a state law that prohibits “unlawful passengers on a bicycle.” With the popularity of Xtracycles and other long-tail bikes where people ride on the rear rack, and the general tendency for “doubling” (which is far from just a Portland phenomenon), I wondered whether or not the examples above expose yet another unfortunate grey-area in Oregon law that could negatively impact people who ride bicycles.

Alberta Last Thursday - July 07

Portland Police officers ticketing a man in
July 2007 for carrying a passenger on the
rear deck of a tall bike.

The law cited in both cases mentioned above is Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 814.460. 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.

In the case of Mr. Southerland, he had a standard road bike outfitted with a steel pannier rack (made by local builder Mitch Pryor). After getting his $143 ticket, Mr. Southerland posted to the Shift email list looking for advice. He asked,

“What constitutes “the number for which it was designed to carry?”… And what does that say about the recent flood of passengers on extra-cycles? Are these designed to carry more than one person? And if so how does that differ from my bike?”

For insights on this issue, I spoke with Portland bike lawyer Mark Ginsberg (who happens to be representing Southerland in his fight against this ticket). Ginsberg said that people who carry kids and friends on Xtracycle decks have nothing to worry about because those bikes pass the “consumer expectation test.”

Tour de Fat parade sprockettes and more-32

A common sight.

Ginsberg said that because the manufacturer displays photos of the bike being used to carry people in that manner, consumers have the expectation that the racks are designed for that purpose (he cited the 2001 Oregon Supreme Court case of McCathern v. Toyota Motor Corp. as precedent). “The consumer is allowed to look at the advertisements and rely on them.”

In Southerland’s case, where the passenger was on a conventional pannier rack, the law states that the bike must be “designed or safely equipped” to handle a passenger. Since pannier racks are clearly not designed for passengers, whether or not they can safely carry one is up to the State to determine, says Ginsberg. “The burden is on the state… innocent until proven guilty… the State has to prove that the rack in question isn’t safe.”

Ginsberg will get a chance to make that case when he and Southerland go to court in June.

The situation that seems to be most open to interpretation is when the rack/platform is on a “freak bike” and not purchased from a known manufacturer. Ginsberg says in those cases, the State must either prove the rack is unsafe at the time they issue the citation, or they must determine that it was not designed to carry a person. And when it’s a home made bike, it’s up to the builder to make that determination. “Who’s to say it isn’t?” says Ginsberg.

I’ve only heard of two citations being given for 814.460 in the last three years, so I doubt this will become a big issue (like the fixed gear brake saga). In a nutshell, as long as the rack you’re using is reasonably sturdy and you’re operating in a safe manner, you shouldn’t have any trouble with the law. But then again, “safe manner” is open to interpretation, and we’ve seen what can happen when traffic court judges interpret bike laws.

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  • Tom Ezell April 26, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    The way this rule is interpreted in most states is, “one rider per saddle.” Now matter how romantic it might be to ride your Sweetie on your handlebars, in most places it’s illegal. Same thing for riding your pezo on the pegs of a BMX or freestyle bike. Likewise, your cargo rack is considered to be just that – a cargo rack, and not a saddle or seat.

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  • PoPo April 26, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    A thoughtful article.

    This is the way the judicial system tries to sort out those “gray area” items.

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  • Anonymous April 26, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Can’t say that I agree that an Xtracycle is save to transport children. A rack and platform installation leaves spokes of the rear wheel open and does not provide a safe location for children to place their feet or ensure their feet cannot be pulled into the spokes.

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    • Aman September 14, 2014 at 10:33 pm

      Totally agree n unfortunately found out the hard way today.. Have been taking my 4yr old girl around to her friends house in the neighborhood all summer on the rack.today she got her foot in the rear wheel spokes. Bad cut n bruise on heel. Feel so guilty, have been meaning to get a wheel guard n peg all summer n never got around to it.. Wanted to find out if its legal before i child proof the bike.any help?

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  • Marcus Griffith April 26, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    I am going to agree with Ginsberg on this one; I doubt the state can prove that at the time of the ticket the exact pannier and bike system was unsafe under the law to the degree needed for the ticket to be upheld.

    I am willing to bet (but would need to see the ticket) that the officer did not annotated the pannier system being used or the presence of any add-ons that could increase the safety of the system.

    Some Other Grey Areas:
    What about two people on a long board? Or giving someone a piggy back ride while using in-line skates?

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  • are April 26, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    typical pannier rack is designed to carry about fifty pounds max. neither “designed” nor “safely equipped.” possibly not a good idea to telegraph ginsberg’s theory on burden of proof ahead of the trial date, as it may make it easier for the police to be ready with this kind of data.

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  • scott April 26, 2010 at 3:19 pm


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  • West Cougar April 26, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    This is nothing more than State-sponsored hassling by the officers involved. So Ken goes to court and wins, big deal. Ken has to miss work and procure an attorney while the Officer gets paid as part of his regular work day, or over-time if he is particularly lucky. That is not a symmetric system.

    Further, Ken has to role the dice that the pro-tem traffic court judge he draws is going to be fair and impartial or one, as often as not we’ve seen, that is pained to substitute his own bias even when in direct contradiction of the letter of the law.

    We all, cyclists and non-cyclists alike, should be outraged by these gross displays of arbitrary power, from the legislatures that pass these vague laws to the officers and courts that enforce them.

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  • yarrrrum April 26, 2010 at 3:48 pm


    My xtracycle has wood platforms (shaped like feet) for the rear riders feet to rest upon. We bought ’em from xtracycle, not standard equip., but as an option. I’d say you’d be OK as long as you don’t have on sandals, etc.

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  • Anonymous April 26, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    You can get a ticket for not sitting on your saddle too.

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  • Evan Manvel April 26, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    This is so amusingly U.S. that I’m kind of shocked. I just spent some time in Nicaragua and about one in every four bikes had multiple people on them, usually the second sitting sidesaddle on the crossbar. Sometimes kids (say, four year olds) were standing up leaning against the cyclist. I saw four people on a bike a couple of times, and several times three teens on a bike (one sitting spreadeagle on the crossbar, one sitting on the saddle, and one on some back pegs holding the shoulders). Funny comparison. Good luck, Mark and Ken. The force is with you.

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  • Janet D. April 26, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    I am less worried about a ticket than having my “soft tissues” make contact with a broken bike rack or fast moving rear tire…ouch, just thinking about it hurts.

    It is illegal to give road head too, so pull over first 😉

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  • J.R. April 26, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Anonymous: (love your books, btw)
    As a long time xtracycle owner, I have given a lift to many people and none have managed to stick their feet in the rear wheel. The cargo deck and foot rests have dutifully toted people weighing up to 200lbs with no problems. (knock on 4130)
    The sidebags, frame angles and deck width effectively keep a passenger of any size from interfering with the rear wheel.

    It would be interesting to hear UBI or OBCA or other manufacturers chime in on the limits of standard and handmade touring type racks. Most rear pannier racks I’ve seen that do state a weight limit are from 25-75 lbs. and their failure point is much higher.

    The xtracycle is rated to 200 pounds on the deck in front of the rear axle.
    Like Mark said, it is unlikely to become a big issue. However, I believe that more and more people will discover how cargo bikes in particular can positively impact their lives so it’s good to have the discussion.
    To my mind, any risk involved in doubling is up to the participants. If Ken and his friend felt safe and were not endangering others, who cares?
    It is not much of a public safety issue and the police have plenty of other real public safety issues to enforce.

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  • Jim O'Horo April 26, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    RE: ORS 814.460. WA state has a similar law. I don’t recall the exact wording but think I remember it says something to the effect that one cannot carry more passengers on the bike than the number of seats with which it was originally equipped. If anyone knows the RCW #, please post.


    BTW, I’ve never seen anyone cited or even stopped in WA over this.

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  • chad April 26, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    My 3 year old got his foot stuck in the spokes a month or so ago (he’s fine now) on our long bike.

    Was my bad as I removed the panniers (which prevent little feet from getting in the spokes) right before the ride as I assumed his shoes couldn’t fit between the chain stay and the rear rack.

    Even though he was only hurt a little bit, it was the most terrible moment I ever had on a bicycle (and I got hit by a car last year).

    So, yes, it’s pretty hard for those lil’ feet to get caught up back there, but make sure to take all the precautions you can to make sure said lil’ feet stay out of the spokes.

    (and BTW, this isn’t just a xtra-cycle/long bike issue…I knew a few kids growing up who got their feet stuck in the spokes while riding in the child carriers of regular bikes…some considered it a right-of-passage).

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  • Marcus Griffith April 26, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Washington State Law on the matter:

    RCW 46.61.760: Riding on Bicycles
    (1) A person propelling a bicycle shall not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached thereto.
    (2) No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped

    Ref: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/Rcw/default.aspx?cite=46.61.760

    The Bicycle Alliance of Washington has a pretty useful reference page for Washington bike law: http://www.bicyclealliance.org/safety/rcwlaw.html

    FYI: RCW stands for Revised Code of Washington

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  • Carter April 26, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Why does that law even exist? It is too vague to be meaningful, unless bike builders are required to certify the number of riders their products are safe to carry.

    I am no libertarian, but in this case it seems like a law we can do without.

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  • Marcus Griffith April 26, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Rules of the road exist primary for public safety–even if some of rules seem outdated.

    As Janet (#11) pointed out, states also prohibited sex while driving. But humeroulsy, Washington law anti-embracing law excludes bicycles:

    RCW 46.61.665 embracing another while driving:
    “It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle upon the highways of this state when such person has in his or her embrace another person which prevents the free and unhampered operation of such vehicle. Operation of a motor vehicle in violation of this section is prima facie evidence of reckless driving.


    Notice key word “motor vehicle”. Washington state law defines “vehicle” to include bicycles, but under state law “motor vehicle” does not include bicycles.

    So, in Washington state, a cyclist can neither get ticket for drunk driving or getting ‘road head’ (please note, other laws may apply). However, I am pretty sure there is not a lot people out there have the stamina, balance and coordination to have an “embrace” while biking, but I am so adding it to my new year’s resolution.

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  • Devin April 26, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    In Uganda, back ‘racks’ are often used to carry passengers. Many cyclists perform a taxi service to carry passengers from place to place. The modified cycles are called “boda-bodas”, which originated from “border-border” as the cycles would carry passengers from border to border. I’d love to see something like this in the states, because it was so much fun! Alas, I’m sure it will never happen due to liability and laws, etc.

    Anyway, check it out:

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  • Patrick V. April 26, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Xtracycle decks are one thing but give me a break, most racks are clearly not designed to hold the weight of a passenger and are not designed for a passenger.

    I agree that it might not be a huge issue in the big scheme of public safety but let’s keep this real, carrying a passenger on a bike rack is not entirely safe.

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  • Steven Vance April 26, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    This is a great story. I’m glad something is happening that further explores the legality of such a popular, efficient, and completely innocent behavior.

    I am buying a longtail cargo bike soon and I plan to carry passengers.

    Chicago has a very similar law:

    (a) A person propelling a bicycle shall not ride other than astride a permanent and regular seat attached thereto. (b) No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped.

    A refers to the “driver,” while B refers to passengers.

    I have yet to see a passenger on a bike here, aside from kids on pegs.

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  • Aaron Garland April 26, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    I find this humorous. I living in Colombia (South America) and it is common to see people riding side saddle on the top tube of a mountain bike. And often up a hill. We Americans are wimps.

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  • She April 26, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Some surprising parent behavior that makes me think having such a law (at least for those under 16 or 18) is not so bad:

    A mom with a school aged kid on the rack with no helmet (mom did have a helmet in this case); yes this occured right here in SE Portand.

    A kid in a burley trailer, no helmet, rearranging things in the back while dad rides along (also no helmet). So this kid was not strapped in and had no helmet on.

    Are kids required to wear a helmet in a burley trailer? I would suspect the helmet law would apply but I just do not know for sure.

    Parents please be careful with those kids heads that are not completely formed yet and quite vulnerable to impact.

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  • Nathan Alan April 26, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    It would not be unwise for Mitch Pryor to state now that his racks are not designed for human transport. Supposing Mr. Southerland does win his case, if someone injured themselves while riding on one of Mr. Pryor’s racks Mr. Pryor could be held liable for any injuries. (I’m not a lawyer, so I may be mistaken.)

    Mr. Southerland should pay his ticket & get on with his life. Live & learn.

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  • Scott April 27, 2010 at 6:30 am

    warning impending rant//

    sorry She…. but comments like that just make me angry. I know you have good intentions… but frankly… its MY responsibility as a parent to care for my kids. All of those “grevious bike sins” you mentioned are VERY COMMON in Europe and other places with high bicycle ridership.

    …and I think of all of the stuff that my generation and those before me did on bikes when we were kids–we turned out ok… 🙂

    please don’t be so quick to judge the mom with the school age kid on the rack with no helmet… would you rather she went home and drove her car to pick up the kids? (I’ve been caught in this situation myself before–child forgot helmet at home, etc… I usually put my helmet on the child, but still…you don’t know the context.)

    //end rant

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  • She April 27, 2010 at 7:46 am


    Two problems with a school age kid on a rack with no helmet:

    1)The distance from their head to the cement is enough to cause serious head injury with very little speed added necessary.

    2)Kids at that stage are relatively concrete, saying to them this is ok in this situation is not going to be clear to them that when their friend invites them to stand on their pegs and do tricks that would not be safe (for example).

    I would suggest walking with the kid or taking the bus if the distance is really that far. It seems in this case the child/adult forgot not only the helmet but also the bike???

    A child’s head is not something to take chances with – I believe that strongly.

    I believe in helmets, after a couple of accidents that would have been much more serious, for adults and especially for kids with bone plates in their head that are not completely formed.

    My kids wear helmets on all wheeled vehicles, as do I (I understand it is the adults choice, but it is a legal issue for kids).

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  • She April 27, 2010 at 7:54 am


    High bicycle ridership increases the safety, Portland is not to that point. I hope we get there.

    Frankly, as a parent it should be your responsibility but there is also a law in place to let you know that others strongly believe that by allowing your child on a bike w/o a helmet you are allowing them to endanger their health and safety.

    I did not say anything at the time, because frankly I did not want to embarrass the kid in front of the parent. I probably should have said something and have often thought of what I could have said.

    Here is a venue where parents might learn what is ok and what is dangerous. I stand by my first statement – kids heads are precious, keep them safe in a helmet on wheeled vehicles.

    The argument “think of all the dangerous things we did and look how we turned out” is a really poor argument. In my youth traffic was slower and less concentrated. And besides we know now (from experience) that some of that behavior was unsafe, so why perpetuate it?

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  • dr2chase April 27, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Anon @ 3 — if you’ve got the usual xtracycle panniers on, it’s not at all easy to get your feet in there. There’s fabric in tension, pulled right down to the same tube holds the front of a footsie or wideloader.

    And I am also blessedly tired of the innumerate-nanny-state. If we’re going to wring our hands, cluck our tongues, and pass rules “for your own good”, I want metrics. If you think your rule is a good one, tell me how many dead bodies it will prevent, so we can compare outcomes. Otherwise, please keep your helpful ideas to yourself. Keep in mind, that the biggies are cars (35k bodies/yr), seasonal flu (90k? bodies/yr), and cardiovascular disease (864k bodies in 2005, according to Am. Heart Assoc.). A rational nanny would be doing whatever it takes to get people to eat better and get more exercise. Quibbling about toes-in-spokes or inappropriate racks is not making much of a difference, compared to that, and to the extent that it discourages bike use (and exercise) it is probably counterproductive (a fancy word for “kills more people than it saves”).

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  • are April 27, 2010 at 9:14 am

    comment 25, i doubt very much that your kids wear helmets on “all wheeled vehicles,” unless somehow that phrase excludes automobiles. and yet head injuries in car crashes are very common. interesting you yourself say (comment 26) that the law is there to express what someone else thinks i should do.

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  • Babygorilla April 27, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Do we really want to look to Nicaragua and Uganda? Really? Fine folks, but the reason they get all creative in getting multiple people to ride along a bike is because the countries are dirt poor. Do we really want to emulate the transportation systems and infrastructure of less developed nations?

    See no problem with multiple folks on extra-cycles, etc., but riding on handlebars or ordinary front or rear racks on city streets (save it for a park, playground or empty parking lot) should be illegal. Most racks aren’t designed to carry people whether its load capacity or actual structural design.

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  • El Biciclero April 27, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Amen to comment #27. Taking risks is part of life; it is impossible to eliminate all danger from one’s life. Perspective is the key. We constantly have to weigh one risk against another; nothing is completely safe.

    It seems politicians often choose the wrong battles to fight if the goal is to do the most good for everyone–but that’s because politicians usually only do what is good for them. With a few exceptions, political resume-padding has largely replaced responsible lawmaking.

    It also seems that in the U.S., we have fostered a culture of anti-responsibility and mass victimhood. We have turned control of our lives over to The Government and certain Large Corporations who we expect to hold our hands and guide us along in the Big, Scary World. We are quickly devolving into a society of non-thinking simpletons who can’t figure out how to operate unless there is a law dictating every detail of our lives. I can’t stand it.

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  • ekim113 April 27, 2010 at 11:18 am

    I like Jonathan’s choice in the top picture. If that rack were to fail, what are the odds that girl would be ok? I’m guessing stitches and possible reconstructive surgery to her face. Dig the scars though!
    It is not the rack (per-se) that I am worried about failing; it is the 3.5 mm of steel that holds the rack to the frame.
    We do need some sort of natural selection though…

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  • Shetha April 27, 2010 at 11:19 am

    It does seem to be a gray area. I agree that if the owness of determining the capacity of the cargo space is up to the state, it may be that Ken has a fair shake. In regards to whether this should be a law or not, if you don’t think it’s good, then we should work to have it changed or removed. I believe, however, that there are some places where this type of law might be well intentioned. For instance, As I was cruising down Ankeny one day, I had to careen to a halt when another person on a bike crossed over Ankeny, not having stopped at their stop sign. They were up out of the saddle and moving swiftly so I didn’t have to stop for long, but as they passed I noticed that their backpack wasn’t *just* a backpack. There was an infant, about 6 months of age, inside. They cruised on towards burnside, neither pedaler nor passenger wearing a helmet. All kinds of mama bear alarms were going off for me. It just didn’t seem quite right… but I guess we all have different comfort levels with what risk we want to take. Some of it is within the law, and some of it is not.

    (Regarding helmets, which is another law altogether, I believe children 16 and under are required to wear helmets even in trailers. Personally, I sort of wished I had been wearing my helmet when I was in a car collision the other day. Then my head wouldn’t hurt so bad from where the curtain airbags smacked it :-/)

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  • Vance Longwell April 27, 2010 at 11:32 am

    are #28 – Nice one.

    “interesting you yourself say (comment 26) that the law is there to express what someone else thinks i should do.”

    That caught my eye as well. Here’s the statement:

    “Frankly, as a parent it should be your responsibility but there is also a law in place to let you know that others strongly believe that by allowing your child on a bike w/o a helmet you are allowing them to endanger their health and safety.”

    She – I’m doing my level best to avoid over-reacting. After reading, and re-reading your comment I’m wondering if you really meant this statement to mean something else? If not I would share with you that I find language of this sort to be very threatening when coming from a fellow citizen.

    I used to think that the less government/smaller government mantra was meant to express that it is not okay for the State or Federal governments to “communicate” anything to anyone. Turns out it’s neo-con-speak for ‘eradicate regulatory bodies and remove labor and consumer protections as well’. Yeah, so it turns out I like having some help with fraud, among other things, and I don’t dig so-called deregulation or the neo-con idea of smaller-government.

    The underlying distaste for the government being wielded by it’s citizenry to enforce their lifestyle, and choices, remains though. Hopefully it’s not reflected in my comment how angry your position makes me. I react to a statement like that much the same as if you just pointed a loaded firearm at my face. I have very, almost incredibly, strong feelings about government intrusions into personal liberty.

    It’s not ‘reality’ of course but it feels like all I ever read here are calls for more laws, more government, more Nanny State. Then every time Mr. Maus runs a story about some bicycler receiving a citation, or some such, you all gripe about the Police! Has it ever occurred to you, She, that these kids on a tall-bike, not hurting anything or any one, just got nabbed by your dragnet?

    That seems a lot like one community calling for sanctions against another community, from which they wish to remain exempt. Uh, no. If you are going to deploy the dragnet you are going to flounder in it like some of the rest of us have to. When I, personally, say ‘less-government’

    It is precisely less of this kind of government I’m talking about. Absolutely everything is illegal. You are all criminals dozens of times every day. Some out of ignorance, others willful disobedience, but you are all law-breakers. In a circumstance where everything is criminal Police no longer need probable-cause to approach you, but simply have to invoke whatever they can charge you with after the fact knowing full well there’s something there somewhere.

    This is a license for enforcement to enter into all manner of racial-profiling, class-profiling, and something many of you oughta think about, profiling out of staters.

    Notice too I’m not endorsing any behavior here. I’m in a position to effect people’s decisions and I always tell them to avoid passengers on bikes. I also feel like your giant-sized-cargo bikes are horribly rude and selfish. The amount of extra public space they take up, and their inherent rate of speed, is just inconsiderate and rude. The loads I see carried on them are rarely, if ever, secured in any way. I don’t like them. I can make a good case that they will negatively impact public safety too.

    So you know what She? I’ll simply share this opinion with others in hopes that they grow a conscience. You won’t see me calling for laws to ban cargo-bikes, as are in the works right now as I type this. If you wanna be a jerk it’s a free-country in my opinion. If I find myself inconvenienced, or endangered, by one of these ill-advised contraptions I’ll more than happily share that at the point of contact and work it out there.

    You’ve touched upon the white-hot, gooey, center of my undying hatred for this site and all that it stands for. Who are you to consider other people’s behavior? You’re not dead, because your ‘considering behaviors’ and if you ain’t dead, what’s the beef, yo? Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ll have a few laws directed at people’s behavior in a civilized society, apropos of absolutely nothing.

    A couple of idiots riding around on a homemade bike is hardly a menace to society. If they hurt some one, we’ve got laws for that. If they damage property we’ve got laws for that too. Why go the extra bazillion miles and nitpick the behavior with a bunch of unenforceable legislation?

    I don’t ‘hate’ this site, I suppose, but geewhiz it pisses me off a lot.

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  • dan April 27, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I’m surprised that adults are willing to take the chance of riding on a rear rack (i.e., not an Extracycle deck, but a tubular rack to attach panniers). My Blackburn rack is only rated for about 40 pounds. I’ve never had any trouble with it, but I do have a friend whose rack popped a weld while touring with an average-sized load (i.e., within the rated specs). Putting a 100+pound adult on one of those racks seems like a really bad idea.

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  • Tom Ezell April 27, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Someone can probably take an Xtracycle and show that it’s designed to haul that type of cargo, as well as an extra passenger or two provided that you can show the rear deck is a “seat” as described in the law. Not so for a regular bike, though, a cargo rack is just that, not a seat. Someone’s also mentioned weight limits on the racks… the typical rack is rated only to 40, maybe 50 pounds, while the Big Dummy & Xtracycle are rated higher.

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  • Babygorilla April 27, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    I broke a Blackburn rack after a pedaling a school’s years worth of law school books (40 pounds tops??) to Lewis & Clark from downtown. I checked bolts and such about every two weeks to make sure the rack was tightly affixed to the bike and not swaying around (and unnecessarily stressing the tubes). Just snapped one night riding along Barbur. So yeah, I wouldn’t ride around on one.

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  • todd April 27, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Hey there, She. I suggest you watch this a few times whenever you cringe to see parents endangering their unpadded children with bicycles, or when you get a hankering for ye olden days of “slower, less dense traffic”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4S8cNrIR5ac

    and then maybe all the families on bikes here: http://www.ski-epic.com/amsterdam_bicycles/

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  • jim April 27, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    many times i’ve seen babies on handlebars. this can’t be safe. sometimes with 1 or 2 more kids riding on the back. usually going or coming from school

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  • todd April 27, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    jim, i think you are referring to front-mount child seats? i have never seen “babies on handlebars” but i see a lot of older infants in front-mount seats. the special danger being?

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  • GlowBoy April 27, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    I’ve also had a Blackburn rack fail with considerably less than its rated 40 pound load. Just a few miles of riding along the lower Deschutes River Trail (a not-terribly bumpy gravel road) with a 20-25 pound load was enough to do it.

    As for “babies on handlebars” (jim #38), I can’t say I’ve ever seen that. I’ve seen baby carriers that mount just behind the handlebars, however, and my understanding is those are considerably safer than the behind-the-saddle baby carriers.

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  • Devin April 27, 2010 at 3:14 pm


    No one said anything about emulating a developing country. We can definitely learn something from them, if only we were open to it. Some of us are not, as is made so apparent.

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  • jim April 27, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    I just dont see you having as much control with a baby on the handlebars. it seems to put the baby in a precarious position

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  • todd April 27, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    jim, having a baby in a stem-mount child seat makes the bike feel more stable because it adds mass to the steering column, behind it. furthermore the child is situated more nearly between the axles than in a rear-mount seat, for a smoother ride. precarious position? right between your arms. control is not a problem, at least on an appropriately designed bike. straight or drop bars with skinny tires are not as appropriate as swept bars with fatter tires; swept bars form a cage around the child. double-legged kickstand also smart.

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  • Babygorilla April 27, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Devin @ 41:

    I was going to post some sort of disclaimer about respecting other cultures and ways of life and that we perhaps can learn from others, but I thought such a disclaimer would be unnecessary as I thought such a viewpoint would be common to most folks who read this site. Still, my point stands that I’d rather not see our city adopt transportation modes, even fun ones, that are born out of necessity due to a region’s abject poverty.

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  • Janet April 27, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    What would it take to change the law to allow dual passengers on a bike? Does the one person per seat rule apply while trail riding?

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  • jim April 27, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    what about a banana seat?

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  • jim April 27, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    if you have a kid in a rear mtd seat make sure the back of his helmet dosen’t catch on the back of the seat. This can pull the chin straps tight under his neck.
    Also don’t give them anything they might drop that could end up in the spokes.

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  • jim April 27, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Tod- thanks for the info

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  • Devin April 29, 2010 at 6:50 am


    The town I was in in Uganda has a heck of a lot more buses than my town in the states.

    One of the great things there was the attitude of doing whatever it takes. Whether it’s taking a boda-boda, or a bus, or walking it. In the states I feel too many of us strive to do whatever it takes to use a personal automobile.

    Besides, I’m one who believes safety should be up to one’s own discretion. I’d rather not have a law that states I can’t ride a bicycle a certain way, if I’m only endangering myself; and perhaps another agreeing party.

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  • TREK 3900 May 1, 2010 at 1:23 am

    More excessive meddling by an out of control, bloated, useless, bankrupt government. Bankrupt is probably the key term here: the government needs money and cyclists are low-risk sources of money since they are generally peaceful and don’t generally pack heat. Much safer to give a meaningless ticket to a cyclist than to do real police work. Just be glad they didn’t pop you in the back with the old AR-15! (“I thought he had a gun in his pants!”)

    That said, it does not look safe to carry a woman standing up on a standard rack, especially a woman with no helmet, as shown in the photo above. She is asking for some major damage if she falls. Doesn’t look smart to me.

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  • TREK 3900 May 2, 2010 at 12:53 am
  • Allan May 13, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Before reading this post I just thought of putting my girlfriend on the rack as a fun think to try, but now I kind of want to make a point of doing this. I tried it for the first time last night since we ended up with 1 bike a half mile from home and I didn’t feel like walking my bike. It was totally AWESOME. I will definitley be doing this again. My 60kg rated rack had no trouble with her weight and I think this is an awesome way to get around town. Getting from 0-5 mph is somewhat tricky but other than that it’s amazing and I highly recommend doing this all the time folks.

    Safety-police… this isn’t that bad… get over it.

    We will need to change this law if we want to get >30% bike mode share

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  • Nick February 18, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    I got a ticket for unlawful passenger for riding with my wife on the bike. The thing is, I have one of those moped style ebikes and the manufacturer notes that it can carry a passenger on it’s website and in the owner’s manual. Any thoughts on this?

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