When parents love cycling and the outdoors, it is generally something that they want to pass on to their kids.
Getting the little ones out and about from an early age is now easier than ever, thanks in large part to a huge selection of bike seats and trailers for kids.
While both are a great way to stay active with little ones in tow, the question that most parents have is which of the two options is the safest. This is particularly true if the bike is going to be used in traffic congested areas.
While there are pros and cons to each, we prefer the bike trailer, and here is why:
Proximity to the ground – In the event of an accident, you want to limit the distance that your child would fall to the ground. Child bicycle trailers ride low, with two bicycle style wheels and a hitch that attaches to the bike helping to make that happen. If there is a spill or a collision, a child would only fall about 6 inches, which is a good deal less than the 3 feet they might fall from a bike seat.
You would still want the child to wear a helmet in either set-up, but the injury risks are still less in a bike trailer for kids.
Maneuverability – When you use a mounted bike seat, the extra weight in back can make the bicycle that much harder to control. While this may be fine for experienced cyclists, it can present a problem for those who are casual riders at best. It can also be a little tricky getting off and on a bike when your little one is on a seat in back.
Reduced risk – There is a higher level of protection to be found in a bike trailer. The children are placed in an enclosed space that is constructed from strong, durable materials. The interior of the trailer may have seats and straps to add even more safety.
Some of the better trailers come with a hitching arm that will keep the trailer upright in the event that the bike falls over. All of that said, though, a helmet is still an essential accessory.
While the low profile of a bike trailer is considered a pro, it can also be viewed as a con, as car drivers can often have a hard time seeing the trailer, especially if the lighting is not so great.
Kids bike trailers take up more space on the road because of their width. It is for that reason that you should not consider riding on the shoulder of the road, as the trailer can encroach into the space meant for vehicles. If one wheel hits a bump, the trailer can tip over, which is why they are better suited to off-road use, where traffic is not a major concern.
It’s easy to forget that the trailer is in tow, which means running the risk of riding to close to obstacles that might snag the fabric of the trailer. If you are going to use a bike trailer for kids, practice using it in spaces that are quieter are more wide open, as this will get you accustomed to the movement and maneuvering required to control the bike and trailer together.
Despite these cons, we still believe that the bike trailer is a much better option than a bike-mounted seat. Let’s recap the reasons why:
Bothe seats and trailers come with safety issues, but the American Academy of Pediatrics still believes that the trailer id the safer of the two options.
It is their belief that a child’s seat on a bike adds a level of instability that can be tough to control. They also point to the fact that a spill from a bike seat has the potential for greater injuries to the child than what they would see in a bike trailer accident.