Taking Your Child for a Ride

photo credit: freddy

Outdoor exercise and activities can be enjoyable to both parents and children and extends a positive message about exercise and fun.

The Jogging/Running Stroller

Don’t sacrifice safety and stability for budget when purchasing a jogging stroller. Look for these safety features:

  1. A deep seat with a five-point harness
  2. A sturdy frame with balanced, sturdy wheels
  3. A canopy and sun shield
  4. A wrist strap for the stroller
  5. Back-up locks that prevent the stroller from suddenly folding
  6. Hand brakes for the runner

Do not confuse a three-wheeled stroller with a true jogging stroller, even though they look alike. The everyday three-wheeled stroller has smaller wheels that swivel so you can maneuver in malls, walks downtown, etc. A true jogging stroller has larger wheels, ensuring a smoother push/ride and non-swivel wheels for a safer, straighter push.

Child safety

  • It’s recommended to wait until your child is at least 12 months old before placing him in a jogging stroller. Children need to develop neck muscles and head control. The jogging stroller (when used for running) can jar the brain and spinal cord of young babies.
  • Children riding in the jogging stroller should wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet. Running with a child in a stroller is not the same as walking with a carriage or everyday stroller. Accidents can and do happen.
  • Make sure your child is snuggly secured in the five-point harness. This will prevent little fingers from getting tangled in tires, and prevent children from leaning forward or to one side, increasing a risk for falling out or tipping the stroller.
  • Do not run in the hottest part of the day (11 a.m.– 4 p.m.).

Other safety tips

  • Do not jog with an everyday stroller. They aren’t designed to perform in a jogging capacity.
  • Be in control of the jogging stroller; do not take your hands off of it. There have been a few cases where children died: the parent became distracted, took their hands off the stroller and the stroller went into harm’s way.
  • Do not attach pet leashes to the stroller.
  • Use wheel lock brakes when the stroller is not being used.
  • Do not use the jogging stroller at night.
  • Use a jogging path or jog in the park on a smooth surface away from the hidden danger of sidewalks or streets (such as unleashed dogs, uneven pavement, automobiles, etc.).

Bike Trailers (For children 1–4 years old)

A bike trailer is a small cart towed by the parents bicycle. Most are covered in canvas and can hold one or two children. Some have a weight capacity up to 100 pounds. Be sure to look for these safety features:

  1. A sturdy frame
  2. Roll bars
  3. A rollover hitch, which keeps the trailer upright even if the parent’s bicycle tips or falls
  4. A five-point harness to secure the children
  5. Ease of communications with the child while riding
  6. Safe from dirt, grime and debris that may be kicked up
  7. Some manufacturers offer an extra strap that attaches the bike trailer as an added safety feature.

Child safety

  • Some manufacturers state that children should be old enough to keep their heads up before riding in a trailer. However, most children do not have proper neck strength until they turn 12 months old. Furthermore, the bike trailer can cause jarring of the brain and spinal cord of young babies. Check with your pediatrician before placing your child in a trailer.
  • Children should wear helmets.

Other safety tips

  • Practice using the bike trailer in a safe environment without traffic before adding your children. Take into consideration:
  1. ­   The extra load will make it harder to get started due to the extra weight.
  2. ­   With the hitch added, your bike is longer and will take longer to safely cross the streets and paths.
  3. ­   The extra load may require longer braking times to stop.
  4. ­   Turning the corners may be tricky.
  5. ­   Trailers have tipped over during a quick turn.
  6. ­   The trailer adds extra width, so squeezing through tight areas may no longer be feasible.
  • Make sure your trailer is hitched correctly and tightly. An unhitched trailer may travel into traffic causing serious injury or death.
  • Do not ride at night.

Child Seats For Bicycles (For children 1–3 years old)

There are two types of child seats: rear mounted and front mounted. Be sure when purchasing a bike seat that the manufacturer has met ASTM 1625-00 standards for both front and rear mounted bike seats.

Child safety (rear-mounted and front-mounted child seats)

  • Make sure your child wears a helmet.
  • Secure your child’s legs, feet, clothing and shoes so they don’t get caught in the spokes.
  • Tightly secure your child in the harness so they don’t fall out of the seat.

Other safety tips for rear-mounted child seats

  • The center of gravity is raised, making it difficult to maintain balance when you are not pedaling, placing a child on or removing child from the bike seat. When doing this you are especially vulnerable to accidents.
  • In the event of a crash or loss of balance, the child is likely to injure an arm, leg or sustain a neck injury. If the child is not wearing a helmet, a head injury is possible as well.

Other safety tips for front-mounted child seats

  • The center of gravity does not effect front-mounted seats as much as rear-mounted child seats.
  • The bicyclist’s knees may be obstructed by the child seat.
  • A child may drop something causing the front wheel to seize, resulting in a crash.
  • In a crash, the bicyclist may fall on top of the child.

Trail-A-Bike (For children 3–8 years old)

A trail-a-bike, or tag-a-long, is a specially made child’s bike that doesn’t have a front wheel, so it can be hitched to the parent’s bicycle. It allows better supervision of children in this age group when compared to solo-riders. Some safety features you should look for:

  • A sturdy frame
  • A secure hitch

Child safety

  • Make sure your child wears a helmet.
  • Attach a bright orange safety flag to the rear of your child’s bike.
  • Review safety practices before your ride.

Other safety tips

  • It might take longer to start and stop if your child doesn’t pedal with you.
  • Your bike is longer than if you were to bike by yourself, so it takes longer to cross paths and roads.

Whatever activity you plan to do, please read the owner’s manual, practice all safety laws, wear a helmet when biking, and make sure your child wears a helmet while doing anything on wheels or in motion.

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