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Cycling with children

By Anna Studman

Planning on cycling with your children? Find out which child bike attachments are best for you, and read our important safety need-to-know.

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As long as you have the right equipment, cycling with your baby can be a quick and convenient way of getting out and about.

There are three main options for travelling on a bicycle with your child - rear-mounted child bike seats, front-mounted child bike seats and bike trailers.

Types of child bike seats

Rear-mounted child bike seats

These are the most widely used bike seats. They fit over the back wheel and will usually have a high back and raised sides, leg guards and a harness.

Pros Younger children are well supported if they want to sleep while you're cycling, you can use the seat to carry shopping when you don’t have your child with you
Cons Carrying extra weight on the back of the bike can make stability a problem, you can’t see what your child is up to while you're cycling

Front-mounted bike seats

With this type of seat, your child sits in front of you and you place your arms around the seat to hold the handlebars. Because your arms have to go around the seat and your vision of the road needs to be clear, front-mounted seats are more compact than rear-mounted seats. Seats which attach to the handlebars in any way may affect the bike's manoeuvrability and are not recommended.

Pros You have closer contact with your child and your child is always visible.
Cons Although popular in mainland Europe, these seats are less generally available in the UK than rear-mounted seats, and may be hard to find.

Bike trailers

With these, you tow your child behind you in an enclosed ‘carriage’. They have two bicycle-type wheels and a long hitching arm that fastens to your bike.

Your child is seated and strapped in inside the zipped, weatherproof and ventilated compartment, which has fabric or plastic windows so he or she can see out.

Any trailer used on the road should have a tall pennant and rear lighting so that it is clearly visible to motorists

Pros Spacious inside, comfy seating, storage places for toys, two seaters are widely available, feels more stable than a bike seat, some makes can be converted into a pushchair using a special handle attachment.
Cons You won’t have the same physical closeness to your child as you would with a bike seat, can tip over - especially when turning abruptly or going over bumps, can be expensive.

Safety tips for cycling with a child

Follow these top tips for safe cycling with a child:

  • It's not recommended that you take a baby who can't support his or her own head on a bike – as until this time he or she won’t be able to wear a cycling helmet. Ideally, your baby should also be able to sit well and unaided.
  • Wearing a cycle helmet reduces the risk of head injury and brain injury. You and your child should always wear one when on a bike. Make sure your family are protected by choosing the safest Best Buy bike helmets.
  • Baby bike seats tend to be designed for use by babies from about six months of age. Whichever design you're interested in, check with the bike retailer that your bike is suitable for use with a child seat or trailer, as not all bike designs are appropriate.
  • Make sure your seat has footrests to prevent your child's feet becoming caught in the spokes of the wheel.
  • Child seats for cycles should carry BSI number BS EN 14344:2004. This shows they comply with required safety standards.