Is its safe to carry a child on a bike in Dublin City?

spreadsheet

Frequent Poster
Messages
139
Hi all,

As the title suggests, i'm wondering what the general feeling is about carrying a child around on a bike on Dublin's city streets. I walk to work every morning bringing my 5.5 y/o son to school on the way. It's a 40min walk and I was thinking of buying a bike with a back carrier for him to sit in.

My wife thinks it would be too dangerous. I'd be under the impression it's about as dangerous as walking.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Thanks
 

Complainer

Frequent Poster
Messages
4,951
At 5 and a half, he might be getting a bit big for the child seats. I have this one, and the spec says up to 22kg, by the long legs of my 5.5 year old are starting to get in the way. He is probably to small for a trailer bike. Maybe he would fit in one of the attached buggy thingies?

He is as safe as you are. If you can cycle the route yourself without huge danger, then putting him on the back won't be a huge problem. I see a few parents using various of these devices around Ranalagh on a regular basis, and I've never come across any problems.
 

spreadsheet

Frequent Poster
Messages
139
He probably is too tall for the back seat actually. Thanks for making that point. I'll look into the trailer options too. They look good, seeing that his legs would be doing a little 'work' on the way!

One of those bakfiets might do the trick, if I can get up the hill at Christchurch on one... :)
 

NHG

Frequent Poster
Messages
1,100
From a Car/Van/SUV Driver anything lower than an adult bicycle will be hard for a driver to see and I would consider it too dangerous. Even a buggy, the child is pushed out first, especially if coming out from between two cars.

As a driver, when I meet walkers on a road it is quiet easy to recognise the ones that drive from the ones that don't as they are more aware of the things that drivers can/cannot see (i.e. stepping in to the verge if on an narrow road if something coming the opposite way)
 

Firefly

Frequent Poster
Messages
2,995
My answer - no way. Doesn't matter how many precautions you take, one slip up and it could be all over.
 

Firefly

Frequent Poster
Messages
2,995
Just to add - the 40 mins you walk together you can have a good chat together - kinda hard on a bike
 

Complainer

Frequent Poster
Messages
4,951
My answer - no way. Doesn't matter how many precautions you take, one slip up and it could be all over.
This doesn't make sense. One slip in the car and it could be all over. One slip as a pedestrian and it could be all over. One slip of the truck driver while you are in the car or walking and it could be all over.

With any kind of risk assessment, you need to look at the liklihood of the risk occuring, and work out how you can reduce that liklihood and reduce the impact. A bike helmet for Dad & son makes good sense, as does intelligent and assertive cycling, taking the space that you need to cycle safely.

The international statistics show that the more people cycle, the safer cycling gets.

TBH, I'd have thought that a 40 minute walk each way is too much for a 5 year old.
 
L

lightswitch

Guest
I drive in the City Center nearly every day. Wouldn't in my wildest dreams bring a child in on the back of a bike. Actually haven't seen anyone doing this other than in a park in many years. Your wife is right, listen to her :)
 

Complainer

Frequent Poster
Messages
4,951
I drive in the City Center nearly every day. Wouldn't in my wildest dreams bring a child in on the back of a bike. Actually haven't seen anyone doing this other than in a park in many years.
Can I suggest that you don't take advise from those who haven't been on a bike since they were in 3rd year? Talk to cyclists who cycle through Dublin every day, largely without fatal injuries. Or better still rent/borrow a bike for a few days and try it out yourself to see how comfortable it is. You may well have options other than main roads to put a bit of distance between yourself and the traffic.
 

markpb

Frequent Poster
Messages
431
I see a few people cycling with children on their bikes. I'd imagine there are some roads you know wouldn't be safe but most of them are fine. I'd even go so far as to suggest the city centre with it's slow moving traffic is the safest of the lot.
 

Towger

Frequent Poster
Messages
2,126
I drive in the City Center nearly every day. Wouldn't in my wildest dreams bring a child in on the back of a bike. Actually haven't seen anyone doing this other than in a park in many years. Your wife is right, listen to her :)
+ 1

I cycled for 20 years, but gave it up as going through the center of town was too dangerous.

It only takes one slip and you have no protection on a bike, a hit which will leave a bash on the side of a car, has a good chance of killing you on a bike. One of my firends was hit by a bus which left him badly bruised all along one side, the bus just drive off. BTW he was in a bike lane at the time!

I have seen someone hit while on a bike with child on a seat, luckily it just knocked them off. That was on a quite road, not the 3/4 lane road leading up to Christchurch with cars, buses and artics jocking for lane position on it.
 

Latrade

Frequent Poster
Messages
579
I drive in the City Center nearly every day. Wouldn't in my wildest dreams bring a child in on the back of a bike. Actually haven't seen anyone doing this other than in a park in many years. Your wife is right, listen to her :)
As someone who cycles every day into the city centre I can only echo these sentiments.

However, if your route is in a clear cycleway, it won't be as bad. It doesn't matter how assertive you are, like in the car you're too dependent on everyone else (including fellow cyclists) to be as careful and courteous. Unfortunately, you can't rely on others.

Just this morning I had to brake extremely sharply because a bus pulled out in front of me. To be honest this isn't unusal and one of the biggest problems is the mix of bicycle and bus lanes, even with all the care in the world, I still have to do some form of evasive action at least twice a week due to our city's finest professional drivers. The issue is that while this is ok for just me on the bike, I'm not sure how stable it would be or safe a with a child on the back.

If your route is in anyway within the city centre, outside of very clear cycleways, involving major junctions or busy bus routes, I would possibly say to reconsider.

Yes, I'm still alive and breathing, even with a few additional scars and scrapes, after all these years, but I would only consider about 1/3 of my route into town even remotely safe enough to have a child as a passenger. And even when I do come off the bike, I can at least prepare for it, a child strapped into the back can't. Plus helmets are not 100% injury proof. They're only limit the harm from relatively minor, short distance falls. Full impact falls will still result in injury.
 
G

Guest116

Guest
I commute into city centre everyday and would not recommend cycling around Dublin streets. Everyone drives like a nutcase at rushhour, cycle lanes are ignored and I have seen a few near misses and have come across a few ambulances with bicycles in a tangle on the road beside them.

You couldn't pay me to cycle in Dublin, it is not safe. But depends on what level of risk you want to take.
 

markpb

Frequent Poster
Messages
431
Just this morning I had to brake extremely sharply because a bus pulled out in front of me. To be honest this isn't unusal and one of the biggest problems is the mix of bicycle and bus lanes, even with all the care in the world, I still have to do some form of evasive action at least twice a week due to our city's finest professional drivers.
I honestly can't understand this at all. I've been cycling from Clonshaugh to Stephens Green or Sandyford (via the N1, Drumcondra and city centre) every day of the week for over two years and I rarely have to react to bad driving. That's between 90 and 180km a week incident-free. I cycled around the suburbs for eight years before that without any problems. A pedestrian jaywalking suddenly from behind a pillar is the only time I've come off my bike.

I know where the bus stops along my route are so I expect buses to pull in there (taxi drivers are another matter entirely so I am very careful around them!). I find the vast majority of bus drivers are courteous enough to stay behind me if they're approaching a stop although there are a few impatient ones who you need to be extra careful of.

Perhaps I've jinxed myself now and maybe I'm due a bad one but based on my own observations, most incidents stem from poor cycling or poor situational awareness. If you aren't aware of cars turning across you, aren't holding your lane where cars could turn left from behind you and aren't watching the tires on any vehicle to your right, you're going to have an accident.
 

Latrade

Frequent Poster
Messages
579
I honestly can't understand this at all. I've been cycling from Clonshaugh to Stephens Green or Sandyford (via the N1, Drumcondra and city centre) every day of the week for over two years and I rarely have to react to bad driving. That's between 90 and 180km a week incident-free. I cycled around the suburbs for eight years before that without any problems. A pedestrian jaywalking suddenly from behind a pillar is the only time I've come off my bike.

I know where the bus stops along my route are so I expect buses to pull in there (taxi drivers are another matter entirely so I am very careful around them!). I find the vast majority of bus drivers are courteous enough to stay behind me if they're approaching a stop although there are a few impatient ones who you need to be extra careful of.

Perhaps I've jinxed myself now and maybe I'm due a bad one but based on my own observations, most incidents stem from poor cycling or poor situational awareness. If you aren't aware of cars turning across you, aren't holding your lane where cars could turn left from behind you and aren't watching the tires on any vehicle to your right, you're going to have an accident.
I'm going from Kinsealy to Baggot Street every day for the last 4 years, outside of cycling for the last 20, and that's my experience. I know where to expect problems and I try to prepare for it, however, as I say at least twice a week I have some issue with a bus, let alone other drivers. It's never anything serious and can be dealt with easy enough (along with some coarse language). It's just like driving, in that there's always one. My point is that sometimes it can be a close enough call with just me on the bike, without a child on the back.

Like most other road users, most bus drivers are courteous, but it's the odd one or two who cause me the problems.

I'm one of those annoying cyclists who would do anything to bore people with how great cycling is and how, if you're careful that it's grand, but there are parts of my route and that includes the city centre where I would feel it's too big a risk to have a child on the back. Yes there are parts of my route and town where I know it would be fine, but I'm inclined to be doubtful of the safety of a child in town.
 

Paulone

Frequent Poster
Messages
286
An interesting debate.

In other posts, I've said that in my experience, the quality of cycling and driving in and around the city is 100% better than it was 10 years ago. IMO, it is noticeably safer.

Whether or not this extends to carrying a child on the back or a crossbar seat is very much a personal choice. If the OP is not confident to have the youngster on the bike, then they'll be a nervous cyclist and this isn't a good thing.

For me, the route would be crucial - if there are lots of cross traffic turns, lane changing or the route is especially bumpy, then I'd either forget about it or change it to avoid these in the belief that they are more hazardous when there is a child on the bike.

A suitable mixure of gentle roadwork coupled to the use of some pedestrian facilities such as crossings or very occasional pavement work (can't stress how very occasional this should be) might suffice.

Provided the OP (and the child) are comfortable on the bike together, I would have thought that gentle cycling, use of cycle paths if the route allows it, being prepared to give way much more than usual and ensuring that road risks are minimised, then it would be okay.

Every road user has to stop suddenly on occasion - on bikes, I've found braking ability can be quite variable depending on the road conditions. I don't think this is any more hazardous on a bike that is familiar to the rider compared to a car.

Gauge the child's reaction to the seat first by borrowing one or hiring a bike with one attached to give it a go - if they are terrified then it is unfair to make them travel like this. Personally, I would not use a trailer bike in city traffic even if I was paid large sums of money - I think these are for off the road and cycle lanes only.
 
G

Guest116

Guest
Anyone notice the people cycling those bikes that are really low to the ground? They generally sit back on the bike and their heads arn't more than 3 feet from the ground. Those are a receipe for disaster as they are hard to see.
 

Paulone

Frequent Poster
Messages
286
I have! There's a guy on my route who I see on one of those recliners. He has a flag that sticks up for the purposes of visibility - but I don't think its very visible.

Going down an inside cycle lane adjacent to stationery traffic would be my biggest problem with a recliner - it would be hard to spot.

I believe tho that recliners are very comfortable to ride - much more natural position for your back and there's full extension of the legs compared to a normal bike. I don't know about putting a child seat on one of those tho.

I have even seen recliner trikes with a full fairing online being marketed as human powered vehicles - they look quite interesting as they have protection from the weather and an amount of carrying capacity for things like shopping or a couple of bags. These are very visible bec ause of the fairing, tho too wide for cycle lanes.

Watch them catch on as the price of petrol rockets with the carbon tax they're talking about now.
 
L

lightswitch

Guest
Actually Complainer I have been on a bike many times since I was in third year. Please be careful what you state, people might begin to think you actually know me :D.

I would myself cycle in the City Centre just would not take the risk with a child on the back of the bike.
 
Top