Bike carriers allow parents to take children along for bike rides when the child is still too young to properly operate her own bicycle. Many types of carriers exist, ranging from backpack carriers to tow-behind attachments. Regardless of which type of bike carrier you choose, the International Bicycle Fund recommends that children always wear helmets during a bicycle ride to prevent injury.
Backpacks and Slings
Child backpacks and slings may be convenient for walking, but they can present real dangers when used on a bicycle. An infant carried in a backpack or sling may be crushed under the weight of the adult if an accident occurs. The International Bicycle Fund advises that transporting children in a sling while on a bicycle is illegal in some jurisdictions. Check your local laws to find out if this is a viable option for you. Some areas, including Delaware, allow infants up to 1 year old to ride on a bicycle in a sling or backpack carrier.
Child Bike Seats
Children's bike seats are available in front-mounted and rear-mounted varieties. Child seats add weight to your bike and raise the bike's center of gravity. This can make the bike more difficult to pedal and increase the likelihood of falls. Some adults may also have a difficult time loading and unloading heavy children. If children are too tall to properly fit into a bike seat, their feet could become caught in the bicycles spokes, causing an accident and possibly injury. The International Bicycle Fund recommends bike seats for children between the ages of 1 and 3.
Tow-behind bike trailers generally have two wheels and attach to the rear axle or the seat post of your bike. These trailers allow children to ride along comfortably and allow them to take naps or play with toys. The trailer also provides protection from the sun and any inclement weather you may encounter. Many tow-behind trailers feature an attachment so that the trailer can be converted to a stroller for times when you do not want to ride. Some bike trailers also feature safety belts and roll bars to protect your child in the event of an accident. One downfall of trailers is that they are much wider than a bicycle and take up more space in bike lanes or on trails.
A third-wheel attachment may be a good choice for older children who are not yet ready to ride their own bike. This attachment consists of a bicycle seat, one wheel, handlebars and pedals. It attaches to the seat post of your bicycle. The pedals on the attachment do not affect the speed of the bike, so children can pedal along or simply enjoy the ride.