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Search Health Information    Child Safety: Bicycles and Tricycles

Child Safety: Bicycles and Tricycles

Topic Overview

Many parents who ride bikes like to include their young children. Riding tricycles is also a fun outdoor activity for preschoolers age 3 and older. To avoid injury from these activities, consider the following safety measures to protect your children.

Biking and using bicycle carriers and trailers

A baby or young child in a carrier that is attached to an adult's bike is at risk for serious injury, even when you use all the latest safety equipment. Uneven road surfaces, cars and other vehicles, or unanticipated problems can endanger your child. It is best to wait to bike with children until they have the balance and coordination to ride along with you on their own bicycles. Usually, this is around ages 4 to 7. 1 Do not allow children to ride in the street until they are 10 years old, are skilled riders, and consistently observe the basic rules of the road. 2

In certain circumstances, biking with a child trailer has fewer risks. If you are really set on biking with a baby or young child, the following suggestions can help you minimize the risk of injury:

  • Children younger than 1 year should not ride in any type of seat mounted on your bicycle. Before sitting in a rear-mounted seat, your child must sit well without support and be able to wear a lightweight helmet. These types of child carriers must:
    • Attach securely over the rear wheel.
    • Have spoke guards so your child's hands and feet will not get caught in the wheels.
    • Have a secure shoulder harness, lap belt, and a high back. A child should be able to fall asleep and be well supported.
  • If you are using a trailer seat for your child, always have him or her wear a lightweight infant bike helmet.
  • Be careful where you ride. Do not ride with your child on busy streets, even where there is a bike lane. Try to ride in bicycle-only areas, such as recreational paths.
  • Do not ride with your child during bad weather.
  • Never carry infants in backpacks or front packs on a bike.

Tricycles

Tricycles and similar three-wheeled toys provide exercise and entertainment for many children. Keep this activity fun and safe by following these tips:

  • Don't buy a tricycle until your child has the basic coordination to ride it appropriately. Usually, this is around age 3. 1
  • Make sure the tricycle that you buy is solidly constructed and the right size for your child (he or she can pedal while sitting squarely on the seat).
  • Watch your child closely while he or she rides. Do not allow your child to ride in areas that are close to cars, swimming pools, or other hazards.
  • Have your child wear a bike helmet every time he or she rides.

References

Citations

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics (2011). Biking. Available online: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/sports/Pages/Biking.aspx.
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Keeping your child safe. In SP Shevlov et al., eds., Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, 5th ed., pp. 457–506. New York: Bantam.

Other Works Consulted

  • American Academy of Pediatrics (2005, updated 2011). Baby on board: Keeping safe on a bike. Available online: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Baby-On-Board-Keeping-Safe-On-A-Bike.aspx.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Keeping your child safe. In SP Shevlov et al., eds., Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, 5th ed., pp. 457–506. New York: Bantam.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised November 26, 2012

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