Tuesday, March 29, 2011

i want this (and your opinion)

I want this. No, let me rephrase that. I want to be able to use this. It is an infant seat for a bike trailer.

Over the summer we bought a bike trailer. This bike trailer, to be exact. Trek GoBug (no longer made).

I had grand plans of biking all over the place with the kids in the trailer. Yes, I want to be one of those moms. However, I soon realized that you aren't supposed to put kids into a bike trailer until they are 1 year old. So much for biking around town anytime soon, right?

So here's my beef. How in the world are people with kids supposed to live around here without cars?? I swear our country is designed (and we are socialized) to only drive cars.

Before I get into this, please consider the fact that I like public transportation. I love the idea of only using a car for significant distances, but I don't profess to actually follow that lifestyle. Try looking at this from that point of view instead of just saying, "Drive your car, idiot."

Problem #1: My double stroller is too big to take on buses. Even if I broke down the stroller and took up the entire aisle of the bus with it, I can't even imagine trying to get everything onto the bus and then trying to wrangle both kids during the bus ride without them being strapped into the stroller. That was hard enough when I only had Graham.

Problem #2: Sure, I could put Graham in an umbrella stroller and strap Liam onto my chest. That way I could actually physically get on a bus. Only I wouldn't be able to get anything back home with me, so things like grocery shopping would be out of the question.

Problem #3: I work during the week, and Christian works evenings and Saturdays. So if I want to go run errands when I'm home, the kids have to come with me. That means I have no choice but to drive a car, because of Problem #4...

Problem #4: I can't put my 3-month-old in a bike trailer.

Interestingly, the Weber Baby Seat pictured at the top of this post is for kids under 1 year of age. From about 1 month until 9 or 10 months, to be precise.

This Chariot sling below (similar to the seat above, but flimsy) is sold in the US and says it should only be used when using the Chariot as a stroller, not as a bike trailer.

The Weber seat says no such thing and is only sold in Europe.

Do you know what that tells me? People in Europe put their babies in bike trailers way younger than a year, and it's okay.

Are their kids going to grow up with neurological problems?

Are we paranoid here in the US?

I completely understand the safety concerns associated with the constant jostling of a small infant's developing brain. Honestly, I think the ONLY thing that should be debated with infants in bike trailers is the potential effect of jostling on neurological development. They say a baby's neck can't support a helmet, and they can't ride without a helmet, but I think the helmet argument isn't as important. A baby strapped into a bike trailer with a roll bar (without a helmet) sounds safer than a young child on a tag-along bike (which is completely acceptable). So the only problem in my mind is the jostling.

Perhaps the most interesting thing I have found in all my research is this site, where a man is using a 7-pound doll to test the G-force of various "safe" and "controversial" activities on newborns (everything from bouncing on a knee to riding in a baby bjorn to riding in a bike trailer on a gravel path). Fascinating.

Or maybe the debate has nothing to do with the babies at all. Maybe it's all due to the fact that we are not a bike-friendly country and that cars rule the road, making any biking situation unsafe. Is my 3-month-old any safer in my car going 75 on the freeway? I'm not so sure.

What do you think?


Kim said...

My friend lived in Denmark and shuffled her kids around all over the place in the bike trailer. They were fine. In fact, when they'd visit America, they freaked out over having to sit in car seats since they never had to before. I think parents are freaked out about safety--germs, getting the perfect (super expensive) car seat, etc. It's not that we shouldn't take reasonable precautions, but we shouldn't be obsessive either--because that still won't take away the scary (usually rare) uncertainties of life. But this is coming from someone who's convinced that every plane she flies on is going to crash:)

LJ, DC and ML said...

I'm going to go with your last idea that the problem has nothing to do with the babies at all, its that people don't know how to drive and definitely don't look for people on bikes. Half the time they don't even look for other cars. So therefore I think they would be safer in the car than in the bike (even though we're only supposed to drive 65 mph remember? hehe)

LJ, DC and ML said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dyan said...

we used to take Nora on trails all the time in the chariot sling. No brain damage occurred (at least I don't think so;) I just sent you a picture of Nora as a four month old in the bike trailer.

Tamra said...

Yes, we are safety paranoid here in America. I hate it.

Also, our society is not designed to support a bike-friendly atmosphere. I wish it was. I also wish I lived about 5 miles closer to Rob's work and where I'll be going to school in the Fall. Then I might be able to make bikes work.

Chris said...

I don't know what your area looks like as far as places to ride. We live in a cookie cutter house neighborhood and I think that if I followed all those rules you mentioned I would never leave my house with 4 kids! However, we have a lot of bike trails/running/jogging paths and I do not have a car during the day. I either roller blade with my kids in the jogging stroller, or put them in the bike trailer if we have to go far (over a mile). We used a blanket to prop up the babies before they were one. There is not a lot of jostling going on, and I take the curbs at an angle to not have a big bump. Do what you feel is best, not what everyone else thinks! the sling does look extremely convenient though! get one of those!

Chris said...

um, this is kati, not chris, didn't know he was signed in! -kati carbonneau

Kerri said...

Truth be told, putting my baby in the bike trailer looks a lot safer to me than the sling on top where he's totally open to the sun and it just looks more apt to topple. Cheri had her baby in the trailer, with 2 kids in the seat, too, and it totally works. The jostling--didn't consider that, but I would go for it. You know that all these companies have to give a disclaimer. They're protecting themselves, whether they believe in it or not.

nicole said...

My friends just put the car seat into the trailer, but that doesn't work for 2...

Jenni said...

From a medical perspective, people often try to be fairly conservative when the effects of an activity on a child are unknown. My guess is that babies would be fine in a bike trailer, but because that hasn't been proven, people have to play it safe and just say it shouldn't be done. Take weight-lifting for children for example. For a long time, it was thought to be unsafe for kids, so it was just a taboo activity. But, research is now starting to show that it's actually just fine for kids. It's just the unknown. Once they start doing research and show that there are no harmful effects, babies will be allowed in bike trailers all the time!

LKC said...

Hey Molly! We moved to London a couple of months ago and this is what I've been driving my kids around in: http://www.babboe.co.uk/catalog/product/gallery/image/668/id/611/

I love it. Biking with kids is the best. I wish it would catch on in America.

And for what it's worth, my friend has a similar bike and has four boys. When the youngest was an infant, she had the older three in the box and had the baby strapped to her chest in a bjorn. How's that for safety?!

3keys4luck said...

Hi Molly,

My name is paskalini and I moved to Germany From D.C. with my husband and our 3 year old daughter in march 2010. We did not bring our car. We only have bikes and we everywhere rain or shine even in the snow! I got pregnant and I rode my bike until I was 37 weeks pregnant (which my dr. laughed when I asked if I could ride my bike still when I found out I was pregnant)and then my hips just wouldn't allow me to get my leg over the bike. My second daughter started riding in the bike trailer around 10 weeks or so. I bought the weber which is hard Styrofoam with a thin fleece covering we NEVER USED IT. My husband just didn't feel safe putting her in a gard seat because of the bumps and stuff we might ride over. I then purchased second hand from a friend the chariot sling baby seat. My daughter rides in it DAILY! she is 4 1/2 months old and it's fantastic she sleeps while I ride to pick up my oldest from kindergarten we ride to the grocery store long bike rides into the countryside for picnics, we ride everywhere!!! She is perfectly normal happy and as far as I know her mental development is fine. People here ride with babies it's just the U.S. is completely un-bike friendly! I hope you get to take your kids around on the bike it really can be fun. Oh I have a croozer and I use the Chariot sling the croozer company makes a sling too but the Chariot one works perfectly fine as well.

Farnie said...

I have the croozer and the weber baby seat. We've been slowly pootling around in it since he was 3mths old. Hes now one and I am just about to get the baby supporter.

I think in the US people have become terrified of doing anything in case they get sued.