In our daily work as we deal with bicycle safety, technology and user manuals we come across lots of safety risks. The most frequent ones are published in articles of the leading German special-interest magazines TOUR – Europas Rennrad-Magazin Nr. 1, BIKE – Das Mountainbike Magazin Europas Nr. 1 and E-Bike – Das Pedelec-Magazin to make this information important for the sector accessible to a wider public.
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No matter whether in the trailer, on the child seat or in the cargo bike: In big cities parents’ taxis without combustion engines have meanwhile become an integral part of the cityscape. Especially for short distances to school or nursery bicycles present a perfect alternative to traffic jams during the rush hour, provided of course the kids arrive as secure as they would when carried by car. Whether this is the case or not is however a question which is not easy to answer.
Cargo bikes: urgent need for safety tests
In case of an accident trailers, child seats and cargo bikes have different safety-relevant advantages and disadvantages. Crash tests have shown that bike trailers with an aluminium frame and with roll-over bar provide an inherent protective space. In case of a rollover the kid’s head is protected even without helmet. This is something that happens however only seldom. In most cases bike trailers involved in a collision are rather pushed to the side instead of rolling over. With child seats mounted for example behind the rider’s saddle it is the great drop height that presents a risk in case of a fall.
Searching for crash tests with cargo bikes focussing on the safety of kids is in vain. As a result, there are no findings on how they behave in different damage scenarios. There are also hardly any legal safety regulations comparable for example to the obligation to use safety belts in cars. According to Dirk Zedler, publicly appointed and sworn-in expert for bicycles and electric bicycles, there is still a lot of uncontrolled growth in the topic. Kids were sitting unsecured on banks, could stick out their arms and distract the rider.
Obligation to secure kids with safety belts in cargo bikes?
Zedler calls for an obligation to use safety belts. One could well compare this with the tests of child seats in cars. In case of a frontal impact the child would shoot forward just like a cannon ball. A four-point safety belt would prevent this. When the child were then thrown back it were of major importance whether the head were sufficiently supported or not. There should be a certain protection for the head on the left or the right side in case the cargo bike would roll over. Cargo bikes are heavy. Even more with two kids being carried inside. Models with electronic motor are therefore popular. The heavier the load, the more important are good brakes and a stable road holding at high speeds. It were a known fact that handlebars would wobble and frames weave, states Zedler. A good suspension were also important: It were a major difference to pass a manhole cover at 15 or at 25 km/h. Cargo bikes are also available as speed pedelecs. Some models with a maximum speed of 45 km/h are also approved for child transport. In the case of bike trailers it is different: They must not be attached to speed pedelecs. Those who want to carry along their kids aboard over particularly long distances can use speed cargo bikes. A good securing being then even more important.
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Author: Lena Frommeyer