Saturday 28 May 2011

Child Seats

After much deliberation, I took the plunge and put a child seat on the cycle.

I have been out three times with the little one since getting it a week or so ago.
She started off being pretty nervous about the whole idea (she wasn't the only one), but judging from the squeals of delight and shouts of "Daddy, faster" when I picked up speed, I suspect she got over her intial jitters fairly quickly.

The cycle acts in a very different way to normal. Which is only to be expected with a 15kg child hanging off the back, I guess. And although moving the seat slightly forward to try to put the weight over the back hub made a huge difference, manouverability takes a hit as does the ability to maintain speed on hills.

One thing that hugely dissapointed me was that cars don't give any extra space or make much of an extra effort. Of course one would ideally like drivers not to be blase about my welfare, but when a small child is on the back, I had hoped for better. Some are great, but the vast majority carry on as if I was invisible, as per normal. With the reduced manouverability and speed, I got pretty angry with a couple of drivers - one who drove straight at me after waiting for a car to pass in front of me.

Some motorists' reactions do seem rather odd. I have had looks from them when transporting the child around. One motorist gave me a strange look as if to say "why on earth would you expose your child to this type of danger when there are morons like me driving?". Whilst they gave this look they were passing me on a pedestrian crossing as I was trying to move out to pass a parked car on the zig-zags. So they might have a point...
Ultimately what makes me a little sad is that transporting my child makes me realise there are many roads in the borough - and beyond - which I wouldn't entertain using with her on the back. And this restricts my freedom of movement. Maybe my attitude will change as I get used to the cycle when carrying my daughter, but even so, I begin to understand how my wife (and presumably many other new cyclists) must feel about the conditions on much of our road network. When I go to Copenhagen, or other Nordic countries for work, I am very envious of their attitude to this type of utility cycling - it simply is sensible to them. If cycling in London with a child ever becomes as routine as it is in Holland or Denmark then that is when we will know cycling has entered the mainstream.


  1. Eye opening isn't it?

    Wait till the nipper comes off stabilizers & you start thinking about you both going for a ride together...'s possible, but thought provoking!

    Enjoy your times out though. I love cycling with my kids - eldest now riding here own bike, youngest recently graduated from childseat to tagalong.

    Good times ahead :>)

  2. It is scary enough when cars drive straight at you, but with the little one on the back it is truly terrifying. I'm lucky that I need to carry him only a short distance, most of it through a park, but on the little bit of road we have to cycle through it can be hairy, even though it has speed bumps, a school and a nursery! You'd think that makes drivers slow down, and you'd be wrong.

    Ian, isn't it sad that to have a kid cycling to school is seen as thought-provoking nowadays? It should be the most natural and common thing in the world, but has become an extreme activity on a par with base-jumping. I can see the parents at my son's nursery, most of whom live within a 1 mile radius, bring their kids in 4x4s and big saloons. Some on foot, and a handful of nutters like me on bike, otherwise it's motorised all the way. Very sad.

  3. I get somewhat vocal. Which adds to stress on what should be a great experience.

    Today, I took the little one to the canal, and on the way back had two cars trying to nose their way past me whilst I was in a road with double parked cars and no room. I shouted some words that I really hope my daughter didn't pick up..

    Nico - you are right, the fact that cycling with a child is thought of as almost reckless is a sad indictment on our roads.

    Ian - It is eye opening, and one wonders the mentality of some of these drivers. Despite this, I enjoy immensely being able to involve my child with my cycling, and, judging by her singing today on our trip, she is enjoying it as well.