How safe are children's bike trailers?
These are all the rage at my kids' school, but they look so unsafe with kids behind the bike where parents can't see them. Especially when they peddle on the road.
1 expert and 1 parent have answered
We had a trailer bike and both of my boys loved it once they were old enough to ride it.
I'm not sure now at what age they started using it. They take a bit of getting used to, as they have a significant impact on the bike being ridden by the parent, so I suggest some practice off-road first for you both to get used to it and to get clear instructions.
There will be times you won't want your child pedalling, for example, so clear instructions whilst riding that the child understands are important.
They are great fun though the most kids love the fact that they can help whilst you have the assurance their position on the road is good.
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A bike trailer is far wider than a standard bike (by bike trailer, I mean this kind of thing: http://www.wiggle.co.uk/burley-bee-bike-trailer). That's the main issue with it - it takes up a lot of room which means cars need to give you far more space than they might otherwise do. For that reason alone (it'd be a seriously insane driver who'd decide to ram a kids' trailer), they're probably one of the safer ways to cart kids around. They also affect steering and handling less than some bike seats.
Given that, and the way the questioner says "these are all the rage at my kids school" (trailers aren't very common compared to seats), "parents can't see them" and "they peddle on the road", I'm guessing the question might actually have been about child bike seats or what are called "tag-alongs". So here goes on all of them...
Kids seats, tagalongs, Trailgators, FollowMe tandems, trailers and other kid-attaching methods are all as safe if fitted correctly as an adult riding the bike without a kid on. About the only things that aren't very safe are either jerry-rigged seats or just sticking your kid on your back rack etc. that you see some people doing - essentially, you're using something not in the way it's designed to be used.
Cycling, with or without kids, is fairly safe. Good adult on-road training really helps. But even if you cycle like an idiot, the chances of being killed or seriously injured as a cyclist in most countries remains statistically very small. You and your kid are more likely to be healthier, happier and live longer if you do the school run on bicycles than in a car.
Kids seats and tagalongs can strongly affect the handling of your bike - get used to your new arrangement before playing in traffic. And each system has its own pros and cons.
My personal preference is front seat for when young (kid sits above/behind handlebars, cradled in your arms and chest), then back seat, then FollowMe tandem. The last is pricey, but really handles well and means you can ride with your child, then when you get to a park/your destination, you can unclip their bike from yours and you can both ride independently.