Monday, April 25, 2011

REPEAT BLOG POST BUT TIMELY

just the other day I saw a dad with this kind of trailer and his daughter in the back as he made his way down a very busy narrow road, the dad is an idiot in my opinion!! read on for my repeat post
this style is just plain dangerous


this is better

I saw a post on Streetsblog.net talking about a problem a cyclist had with a motorist and his bike and child trailer. He has his daughter in the trailer and got buzzed closely at an intersection. The cyclist blamed the motorist.

I am taking the reverse position in this regards. I do not like to see bike trailers on roads. To me this is just too dangerous and not worth the risks to the child. There are other options, bike trails or roads in housing developments.

A better alternative is to get a good tricycle or small bike for the child. Walk with the child while she rides, more exercise and a better all around activity. I used to jog and my youngest rode his bike next to me. He loved it and we both got exercise.

Or if lucky like me, we had a large hospital parking lot near by, which was most times half empty and especially on weekends. We would bike together to the lot and then play bike games at the lot.

In the Philadelphia area we have many trails for parents to use with children and trailers. I do plead with those parents who think dragging a child in a trailer is safe to find something else to do with the child.

A trip to a park comes to mind. Swings, slides and climbers, way more fun for the child. But get rid of the trailes, just tooooooo dangerous.

28 comments:

Robert Issem said...

what specifically is dangerous about child trailers? do you have safety data comparing the reverse tricycle you recommend with trailers?

Libby Maxim said...

it is hard enough not to get by a car let alone dragging a defenseless kid behind you, I have had friends hit by cars, why would anyone is their right mind bike on busy roads with a kid, go hit the bike trails and keep your kid safe

A Young Entrepreneur said...

I was always under the impression that most accidents on bikes occurred from frontal collisions and not the rear. Wouldn't this mean that the tricycle trailer is more likely to suffer from an accident?

Libby Maxim said...

hey if you want to drag your kid behind you on a bike, knock yourself out, i find it criminal that it is even allowed, who is that activity for, the adult or the child, buy the child a bike and take her biking on a trail, I am a safety nut, i don't even walk my dogs on unsafe roads and i watch them as hard as i did my own kids who are grown and ever once rode in a trailer, we bought them bikes and taught them to ride

JPorter said...

The whole world is DANGEROUS! Ohmigod, everybody panic!

Jeremy Holmes said...

Hi Libby, this is Jeremy, the writer of the original blog post. I understand your perspective, but I disagree with your conclusion.

For one, I think you're assuming I was riding for recreation and had a choice to ride in a parking lot, bike trail, etc. In fact, my bike is my second car, which at the time was being used by my wife. I was riding for transportation, which means I had to use the roads available to me to get to where I needed to go. In our region, there are 7,000+ households that do not own cars and use alternative transportation - buses, bikes, walking, etc. - to get to their jobs, grocery stores, friends' houses, etc. For some families, cycling with their kids is their only option to get where they need to go. Further, as we see gas prices increase, more families are turning to cycling for transportation for sound financial reasons, and transporting children will be an issue for them.

Second, your argument assumes that the cyclist is behaving irresponsibly, when in fact I was obeying the laws as a vehicle on the road - what every cyclist is assumed to be - and it was the driver of the vehicle behind me that was behaving irresponsibly. Cyclists - and their children - have the right to be safe on the road, and drivers have the responsibility to drive safely. If we're going to improve the lot of cyclists and make it safer for families to ride their bikes as a way of saving money, reducing their environmental footprint, improve air quality, and get healthy, it's important to recognize the rights and responsibilities of all vehicles on the road, not simply call for cyclists to be on the defensive at all times or to be afraid.

Thanks for bringing the issue up. It's worth a discussion.

Libby Maxim said...

hey, if any of you want to put your kids in danger unnecessarily, go ahead, i just feel bad for the kid as he has no say in the matter, I raised 2 kids, was a teacher and safety to me is primary, it is not the cyclist i do not trust, it is the cars, i ride a lot and i am constantly buzzed by cars, with folks on cell phones, no one is safe on the roads, a child in a trailer is just plain stupid,

Charles said...

You really have to be very lucky riding on highways. I only ride paved trails so I don't risk being popped by an ignorant driver. Nice blog.

Libby Maxim said...

a kid in a trailer says to me,

"this ride is all about the adult"

cuz riding behind is just not that fun for a kid and i can think of hundreds of more fun things to do with a child than to stick him in a trailer and bike to a store

Jeremy Holmes said...

haterA kid in a trailer says a lot of things to me, including, "This is my parents' only form of transportation," or, "This parent is making a good decision about cutting back their fuel consumption and vehicle emissions," or, "This parent is introducing their child to the outdoors in a creative way." I'm sure other cyclists would have other perspectives.

To reiterate: Bicycling is just not for recreation. It can be, should be, and (increasingly) *is* a transportation option, a decision families are making about where they spend their dollars. If families are looking at $4.00/gallon gas and deciding that short trips to the store, school, friends, etc., can be done on a bike for free rather than by driving, I think that's a wise decision. There's nothing inherently unsafe about pulling a child in a trailer, though parents need to make good decisions about what roads they ride on, and they should advocate in their cities for safer roads, bike paths, etc.

From personal experience, I can attest that my daughter loves our bike rides. We did 8 miles last weekend on the annual Mayor's Ride here in Roanoke and she enjoyed every minute. She enjoyed the fresh air, the different perspective on the ride, the slower trip, and time spent with her father. Next week, she'll enjoy another ride with me for another 8 miles or so, and she's already looking forward to it.

That said, it's not always about fun. Most kids don't enjoy being strapped in their car seats on the way to the store, either. I think this whole thing exaggerates the danger of riding a bicycle. I maintain I have had more close calls driving in my car than I ever have had on a bike. Car accidents are the number one killer of children and young adults, not bike trailer accidents. With a little planning, bicycling is an extraordinarily safe means of recreation and transportation, with or without a kid in tow.

Jeremy Holmes said...

(Whoops - that 'hater' at the beginning is a remnant of a mistypes captcha - sorry about that!)

Libby Maxim said...

as i have said, knock yourself out with the trailer

not my thing and you are NEVER convincing me otherwise, UNSAFE no matter how green you try to look

when my kids were still at home, I told them, find friends near by cuz i am not driving to someone's house and they did

you either walk or bike to the friends' houses, when they got in middle school, i told them, only do the sports that take place in school, no driving to some travel soccer or ice hockey

we purposely lived in a town, we are walking distance to stores, the Y and the school

when all of our friends bought big houses in developments we stayed in our small house in town

so i have been green probably since before you were born, canned vegetables from my garden, which we still have after almost 40 yrs of planting

i biked or walked to school all the way through high school when I was growing up

my husband walked to work, the kids and i walked to pick him up after work

when we biked it was on trails or I took one child on a bike ride with me and we went early Sunday morning

dragging a kid in a trailer

again, it is all about the parent and how cool and green they look

and if you want to bike to shop, do it when the kids have someone to watch them cuz unless you are buying much needed medicine for a sick child, why drag them to a store, do it on your own time

sorry buddy

bicycle said...

it's tricky when you have a blog because there's no accountability. you can say anything you want and you don't need facts, data or even sound reasoning.

I'm glad your children are grown & well.

the number of children reported injured while travelling as passengers in a bicycle trailer in VA last year = 0. the number of kids injured in VA last year while playing in playgrounds + riding bicycles + climbing trees = 127,163.

so, if you are a parent that's genuinely concerned about your child's safety ...

bicycle said...

it's tricky when you have a blog because there's no accountability. you can say anything you want and you don't need facts, data or even sound reasoning.

I'm glad your children are grown & well.

the number of children reported injured while travelling as passengers in a bicycle trailer in VA last year = 0. the number of kids injured in VA last year while playing in playgrounds + riding bicycles + climbing trees = 127,163.

so, if you are a parent that's genuinely concerned about your child's safety ...

Raamster said...

@Libby, you mention getting 'buzzed' by cars while riding. Jerry mentioned obeying the laws as a vehicle on the road. Your experience may be from riding your bike as close to the curb as your skill allows. This has the unfortunate effect of encouraging cars to share your lane with you, when you are trying to stay as far from them as you can. Bicycles fare best when they act as, and are treated as, drivers of vehicles, and it is not illegal and in fact it is good practice to signal, look, and 'take the lane' whenever you find the situation you are riding into not wide enough to share safely with a car. Studies have shown that cyclists who ride this way have an accident rate comparable to cars per unit of time. It is by acting as a vehicle that one gets seen and then responded to as a vehicle.

Certainly the result of a crash with a car rarely favors the bike, but the multitude of benefits that come from biking make the trade-off pretty attractive to many people.

Jeremy Holmes said...

Hi Libby! This has been an interesting conversation. I doubt we'll convince each other of the merits of our respective arguments, but I persevere in the hopes that anyone else reading this blog will see that other cyclists vehemently, and reasonably, disagree with your assertion that bicycling with your kids is unsafe. I'll let them make up their minds.

To your point about being green: That's a bit of a non-sequiter. Most of my arguments have been about the economic impacts that some families must consider in their transportation choices. Being "green" can be part of the reason someone decided to bicycle for transportation, but most studies show that being green is second or third in line behind saving money and getting exercise. So, even from this angle I would challenge the assertion that people cycling with their kids are doing so to show off.

It sounds like you've made what I would consider a lot of good choices - choosing walkable neighborhoods, easy access to services, smart transportation decisions. You should be congratulated! My guess, though, is that you've had options - the resources, financial or otherwise, to choose between a house in town or a house in the suburb, to choose where your house is located in relation to services and schools. Maybe the area you live in has robust bike path networks and easy-to-bike neighborhood streets. I'm not sure how your community stacks up to mine or to other communities in the country in term of bicycle (or that matter, walk or transit) friendliness.

I think you would agree that not everyone lives in the same kind of community or has access to the same kinds of resources, nor shares the same sort of lifestyle. You say, go to the store when someone can watch the kid. What if you're a single mom or dad without a good support network, and bicycling is your main transportation?

There are a lot of examples I could provide, but my main point is that a bicycle is a vehicle. It can be a smart transportation choice for individuals and families. Given your green credentials, I think we probably agree that, all other things being equal, bicycling is a preferable mode of transportation - it burns no fuel and so is "free," it's clean, no emissions, healthier, almost zero impact on transportation infrastructure (read: little to no public expenditure in maintenance costs), results in less parking demand, etc., etc., etc. Therefore, it's a shame to hear a cyclist tell another cyclist, "Well, you should just drive," in response to an encounter with an irresponsible driver.

Frey said...

I am going to strap my kid into a bike trailer, teach him how to flip the bird, then go out and get him sticking the middle finger at all those drivers who buzz me

Libby Maxim said...

now your kid sounds like my kind of kid, Frey, oh yeah, you are my kind of kid

I am all for folks biking to work, shopping or whatever your needs are, just dont put the kid in a trailer, my oldest son was just in the Netherlands, there everyone bikes, they put the kids on the handlebars of the bikes, strap them on any place possible, the bikes are huge and heavy and they all use bike trails which are everywhere

no one drives but the country is set up that way,

that is never happening in the USA, for one we all live so far from work and shopping and many live in the country and travel great distances to get to work, so thinking a bike will work as transportation is not in my opinion a good idea if you plan to drag your kids in a trailer,

if all you own is a bike, that is fine, just shop and use it on your own time, when your kid is old enough, get him a bike and teach him how to ride on the roads

i know of no cities or communities in the USA with extensive trails to get folks to work or to shop, where i live there are no such trails,my county has been for 20 yrs trying to build a trail from my town to connect to the Schuylkill River trail, but 20 yrs and still not finished

my son, Frey, from above bike commutes 30 miles each way into center city Phila, his bike is equipped with 400,lumen lights, he wears a reflective vest and travels along highways and busy roads, it is barely safe for him let alone if he was dragging a trailer with a kid

bike anyplace you want folks, just dont take your kids in a trailer

yes kids can fall out of trees, and many things can happen, but to purposely put a kid in danger

not my cup of tea,

BShow said...

Libby, I think you're missing Jeremy's point, so please allow me to simplify it.

Let's assume that I have a small child. Let's also assume that due to economic hardship I do not own a car. I also do not live within walking distance to any form of public transit. I do, however, own a bicycle which is equipped to carry a child.

Now, how exactly do you suggest that I get to the food market or take my sick child to the doctor's office?

Libby Maxim said...

B Show

I am not cutting your any slack, find another way to get places, carpool and barter your services, mow your neighbors lawn in exhange for a car ride, but dropping little Mary is a bike trailer with no provisions for safety, you cannot put your kid in a car without car seats yet we stick poor little Mary in a ground level carrier made of aluminum with a safety FLAG!

i don't know about you, but i would find some way to get your child to the dr, the food store, why drag her there, leave her with a neighbor or as i have said, put on your thinking cap and come up with a better solution

borrow or look on Craigs List for a jogger stroller and run with your daughter to the dr, probably as fast as biking with a trailer

Frey said...

Bshow - You're so broke you gotta bike your sick kid to the doctor, yet you got enough money for 1. A bike 2. a child trailer 3. a computer 4. internet access and 5. leisure time to troll random blogs? The point lib's making is that you don't NEED to bike your kid anywhere, you can transport that little crapper around in safer ways. Owned.

BShow said...

Frey. Forgive me for being unclear. My comment is hypothetical -- in that I am fortunate enough to not rely upon my bicycle as a primary means of transportation. I thought perhaps that my comment was recognizable as hypothetical because I prefaced the scenario with "Let's assume...". Next time, I'll try to be more clear.

Anyway Frey, in this hypothetical situaion of mine it's entirely reasonable to assume that an automobile would cost considerably more to own and operate than say, a bicycle with a trailer - which yes, in this hypothetical situation, I already own. Hypothetically speaking, I saved my money and made a financially sound decision to purchase a sustainable mode of transport for myself and my child. Whether or not I have the ability to access the internet is completely irrelevant. If one were so inclined, there are many places to access the internet free of charge. I'm hypothetically using one of the 17 public libraries that are scattered throughout Chester County.

Libby, I'll agree that in some cases there may be better alternatives to consider. There will inevitably be an instance though, where I've exhausted all options and must take my child with me. At that point, my only means of transport is by bicycle. If that makes me selfishly irresponsible in your eyes, then so be it. You're entitled to your opinion, but I think you're wrong to pass judgment.

I think one of Jeremy's points that you're missing is that there are people out there whom are much less forunate that you or I and maybe, just maybe, they are doing something out of necessity.

Libby Maxim said...

my bike club just did a bike donation program and we gave bikes to very low income children, none of the parents had cars OR BIKES, bikes being as big of a luxury as a car

so if you own a bike and bike trailer, you are far from low income, low income is no dr for your kids or money to shop with,

but putting a child in a trailer made of aluminum on a road with cars weighing over 2 tons

you have to be beyond desperate in my opinion, a better option, stick your thumb out and hitch a ride

i was just biking with a lady whose bike broke down, she did just that

thumbed her way home with a bike to boot

all i care about is the kid, dont care about you Show or any other parent

the day i hear about a kid being hit by a car when he was being carted by his parent in a bike trailer will the day i dread

END OF STORY, please FTW

BShow said...

I commend your cycling club for facilitating a charitable bike donation.

As a cyclist, I very much disagree with your position here. I'm happy to leave it at that.

Frey said...

bshow - fortune has nothing to do with whether someone decides to bike his kid to the doctor or not. There's plenty of resources available to get someone to the doctor without owning a car:

http://www.suburbantransit.org/docs/TransNet_Medical_Assist.pdf

"If you cannot use or access public transportation
or do not have a private vehicle available to you,
paratransit rides are provided to you by TransNet’s
local transportation companies whose drivers know
your community."

Bike trailers are meant for automobile-free trails, not high traffic roads. See consumer report:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/babies-kids/baby-toddler/bike-trailers/bike-trailer-buying-advice/bike-trailer-types/bike-trailer-types.htm

"If you're riding on the shoulder, which we don't recommend because we consider trailers to be "off road" vehicles, the trailer can stick out into the road if you're not careful."

Any other reasons why someone needs to unnecessarily put their kid into harms way without providing that kid with proper protection?

Libby Maxim said...

thank you Frey, finally a response with some statistics of which my responses lacked

was pricing bike trailers, found many for $80, while car seats go for much higher,

how can anyone think a flimsy aluminum carrier is somehow safe, as Frey said it is not a matter of fortune, but concerns for the safety of the child

Jeremy Holmes said...

Frey: the paratransit service you cited seems to provide services only to "qualified recipients" (http://www.suburbantransit.org//docs/matp.html). The paratransit offered in our area of Virginia, for example, is available only to those who receive medicare or disability payments. An average family with a sick child or looking to get groceries would not qualify. This seems to the definition of paratransit.

As far as statistics go, a quarter-million kids are injured every year in car accidents, and 2,000 are killed. This outstrips the number of kids injured in bicycle-related accidents. This isn't necessarily apples-to-apples, as I would guess most kids are using bicycles primarily for recreation and goofing around, and thus the risks are higher, vs. riding in a car for transportation. The point is: riding in a car is in no way safer than being on a bicycle; quite the opposite, in fact, as statistics show.

At any rate, my point in all this is that I believe people should have access to transportation choices that fit their lifestyles, finances, health goals, etc. Maybe this is driving, maybe this is bicycling, maybe this is transit, all for any number of reasons. Obviously, most communities don't offer a breadth of choice, so people do what they have to to get around, get to jobs, take care of their kids, etc.

If someone needs to cycle somewhere, and they need to take their kids, and a driver breaks the law or behaves unsafely, it's hardly appropriate to blame the cyclist. EVERY vehicle has a right to be on the road and behave responsibly. I absolutely agree that separated paths are without a doubt the best option for cyclists and pedestrians. But the vast majority of communities don't offer these, so many people are stuck.

It's clear we're diametrically opposed here, so no one's convincing anyone else. I hope that anyone reading these comments, though, recognizes that are multiple ways to approach cycling. I think it's important to envision a transportation system that encourages parents to take their kids out in trailers, and makes it safe to do so. In the interim, we need to keep the pressure up on drivers to behave responsibly when they're sharing the road, not terrify cyclists into thinking they're going to kill themselves or their kids, particularly when the data doesn't support that.

Thanks for the discussion!

BShow said...

Very well said Jeremy.