If you enjoy taking baby along for your bike rides, here are our recommendations, along with some suggestions of accessories, for safely transporting young children while cycling.
There is no law governing transportation of children by bicycle in Quebec. The Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) and Institut national de santé publique du Québec (the province’s public health institute) have established at one year the recommended minimum age for a child to ride on or behind a bicycle. In a child less than a year old, the neck muscles are generally too weak to support their head in the event of an accident. This means the neck will absorb the shock, which negates the benefits of a helmet.
If your child is aged over 12 months and you’d like to take them along on your next bike ride, there are a few different transport options available. Here are some recommendations concerning each of them.
Article 485 of the Highway Safety Code states that no cyclist can take a passenger unless the bicycle is equipped with a fixed seat for that purpose.
For maximum safety, follow these child bike seat rules:
- Choose a seat with a back that is high enough to protect the child’s head in case of impact;
- Make sure the child’s feet can’t reach the wheel spokes, and are in a footrest designed for that purpose;
- Make sure the child can’t get their fingers caught in the springs under the bike saddle;
- Take the time to properly adjust the safety belts;
- Periodically check that the seat is securely attached to the bicycle.
You might think a trailer is safer than a bike-mounted seat. It’s true that if you fall from your bike, your child sitting in the trailer won’t fall at the same time.
In a collision with a car, however, your child, who is riding close to the ground, risks being more seriously injured.
Here are some rules of the road to limit the danger:
- Make frequent stops to check that the trailer is still correctly attached to the bike, etc.;
- Make sure your child is securely attached with the safety belts snug;
- Have another cyclist follow behind you, to keep an eye on things and signal to you as needed.
Tandem bar or trailer-cycle
If you ride with your child behind you on a tandem bar or trailer-cycle, a bicycle rear-view mirror can be an invaluable accessory.
Without a mirror, you’ll have to turn your head to look backward and check on your child, which could cause you deviate from a straight-line trajectory and surprise even the most watchful motorist.
This is especially true of a tandem bar: you can lose balance more easily because of the load you’re pulling (which itself isn’t very stable).