Cycling with babies and children: tips from Sara Robin

Q: I recently had a baby. How should I transport my little baby on the bike?

Sara replies: It’s great that you want to get your child interested in cycling from a young age. I definitely took my kids out on bikes, trikes and even a sidecar from a young age.

However, I don’t think I would recommend what I did. I rode what I called the “maternity mobile,” a lightweight three-speed bike that I set up with the handlebars bent way back so that I sat very upright on the bike.

I cycled during my pregnancy, so it didn’t seem strange to me to cycle with a baby in a sling.

Unfortunately, cars are now bigger, streets are the same width and there is less space for bicycles.

Anything you do that could compromise your stability is probably not a good idea, and apparently it’s illegal to carry a passenger on a bike without a seat for them. So don’t do what I did!

There are some excellent car seats that are recommended once babies can sit unassisted and have good head control. Probably around 8-12 months old. This is the lightest and cheapest option. It is important that the seat is of good quality and is securely mounted on your bike.

Your bike must be in good condition, with well-adjusted brakes and a fairly upright riding position, the handlebars must not fall down. Some seats are equipped with a luggage rack that attaches to your bike at four points. The seat attaches and detaches to the luggage rack, and you can use the luggage rack with panniers when removing the child seat.

Other child seats have brackets that attach directly to the bike frame. Some car seats recline, which can be useful on longer journeys or when a child is likely to fall asleep.

You can find an excellent guide to child seats on the Cycling UK website covers a wide range of topics, from safety to dealing with hot and cold weather.

A good tip is to put a sack of potatoes or something that weighs the same as the child in the seat to check how your bike handles the extra weight and practice before taking your child on a ride company.

Do you have a question about cycling? Email and we will forward your question to Sara

I also examined some of the cargo bikes from the Netherlands and Denmark. These were not available in the UK when my children were young. Get hold of Cycling and Cycle Heaven, both on Hospital Fields Road in York, store them and test rides would be possible.

The advantages are safety with a large, solid and highly visible bike.

The e-bike versions with electric motors can replace the car for many journeys and can transport children and all purchases. Disadvantages include heavier weight and higher cost than a standard bicycle and child seat.

Another option would be a child trailer, which was also not available when I had my children.

About Sara

Sara has been cycling in York and beyond since 1980. She first started cycling in Australia and worked as a mechanic in two bike shops in Sydney. When she moved to York, Sara was a founding member of York Cycleworks, established as a workers’ cooperative in 1980, and worked there in many roles until 2002. She rides one of her bikes most days and would like to encourage more people to ride a bike for transportation, shopping, commuting and leisure. Cycling with babies and children: tips from Sara Robin

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