Bike Trailers vs. Bike Seats: Which Is Safer for Your Child?

Are you one of the thousands of Maryland, Virginia, or D.C. area residents enjoying the benefits of riding a bike? Whether commuting to work, getting some exercise, or enjoying time with friends and family, bicycling is becoming more and more of a popular means of getting around town. But, as increasing numbers of residents are opting to ride bikes around, the question of child transportation becomes an important one to address. After all, in most cases, a bicycle is only built for one.

The question can become even trickier when a child is extremely young. However, there are options available for you, if you’re looking to transport your young child, while still enjoying the benefits of bike riding. Over the years, manufacturers have developed mounted bike seats that attach directly to the bike frame, allowing riders to have a child passenger. There are also bike trailers that are pulled behind the bike, allowing one or two children to ride along. So, with these different options, which method of transportation is safer for your child if a bicycle accident occurs?

Mounted Bike Seats are mounted either in front of, or directly behind, the standard bike seat. Children ride forward facing while on the bike.

  • Pros: The American Academy of Pediatrics has found that mounted seats can provide adults with some comfort, knowing that their child is close by and easily able to be heard.
  • Cons: If an adult is not on the bike at the time a child is strapped into the seat, the weight of the carrier and the child can cause the bike to become unbalanced and fall over. Also, Having the extra weight of a child directly on the bike can limit maneuverability for some adult riders, and may require extra practice to safely master the skill. If a bike accident happens, a child may fall three or more feet to the ground, potentially experiencing a catastrophic injury like a traumatic brain injury.

Bike Trailers are pulled behind a bike, typically attaching to the bike by a hitch. They are made with a metal frame surrounded by durable fabric, and can transport up to 100 lbs. in some cases.

  • Cons: Trailers ride low to the ground, making them difficult for some vehicles to see. They are also significantly wider than the bicycle itself, which may cause cyclists to have a difficult time accurately judging the distance between a trailer and the curb or parked cars along the side of the road. Cyclists also will not be able to ride through tight spaces as easily while pulling a bike trailer.
  • Pros: Child passengers have a metal frame and a durable fabric covering surrounding their bodies, providing some protection against rocks or other debris that might fly up. The frame also provides some protection incase the trailer were to collide with another object or tip over. In the event that a child were to fall out of the harness system during an accident, he/she may fall only a few inches.

In either circumstance, it is recommended that no child under the age of 12 months be transported in a mounted seat or bike trailer, unless they are confidently able to support themselves in an upright manner without assistance of any kind. But, if you are looking for ways to protect your child in the chance that a bike accident occurs, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends choosing a bike trailer over a mounted seat to prevent childhood injuries.

If your child was injured in a Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, D.C. bicycle accident, we’re here to help you understand and assert your legal rights. Call Lewis & Tompkins today at 202-296-0666 to schedule your free case evaluation.