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A representative in Oregon has recently introduced a bill that would prohibit children under the age of six from riding in bicycle trailers. While it is far too early to tell whether this bill will pass, and what the final law would look like if it did, I am curious what alternatives to bike trailers people can recommend. I don't have kids myself, but I grew up riding around in a bike trailer, and know people who do have children and use trailers like these. I am particularly interested in suggestions for families with multiple young children, since one reason my family loved bike trailers was because it could easily fit two of us at once. If this law were to pass, what alternatives would be available?

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Stupid law based on bad assumptions. Hope it doesn't pass. –  freiheit Jan 17 '11 at 23:34
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Can we pass a law that cars may not be operated within 100 yards of children under the age of 6? Which law would have a greater impact on public health? –  Jay Bazuzi Jan 17 '11 at 23:53
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The bill may be shelved: bikeportland.org/2011/01/13/… –  Neil Fein Jan 18 '11 at 1:35
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Seems to me like if a law like that could pass, the best alternative would be to move out of Oregon. –  Kyralessa Jan 18 '11 at 1:40
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On the lighter side, the Bike Snob finds this so wrongheaded that he ended up rehashing this entire page. Before most of it was generated... –  Neil Fein Jan 24 '11 at 3:31
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4 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Followed some links from your links and found the actual text of the law, which summarizes the law as:

Prohibits person from carrying child under six years of age on bicycle or in bicycle trailer.

Elsewhere in Oregon law, a bicycle is defined as:

[a human-powered vehicle] designed to travel with not more than three wheels in contact with the ground.

So a unicycle, bicycle and tricycle are all covered by the proposed law. There's also a wheel-size provision in the definition, which makes me suspect that too small of wheels or 4 of them puts you in a category like skateboards that probably aren't allowed on the road.

So I think you simply have no solution if that law passes as written. Everything I've ever seen for using a bicycle to transport a child constitutes "on bicycle" or "in trailer". Even if you devised some clever sidecar or push-cart mechanism to get around the letter of the law, I doubt that would work.

But just in case it's useful, there was an earlier question along these lines that I think covers all the answers you could be looking for: Recommendations for Transporting Twins On The Front of a Bike

Basic summary:

  1. Coolest option is a bucket bike (long wheelbase with a big box built in). Common in Netherlands, rare in the US. Search for "cargo bike" in your area (I know there's bikes of this type made in Portland, OR)
  2. Next best is probably a long-tailed bike, such as an extracycle, especially if you can get seats designed for that use
  3. There's child seats that mount on a bike rack behind you
  4. child seats that mount on the handlebars in front of you (you could combine this one with any of the other options)
  5. Trailers are pretty darned good for carrying children.
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Thanks for the helpful tips. Hopefully it'll never become an issue, and it sounds improbable that the law would pass, but this is good info to have. –  nhinkle Jan 19 '11 at 2:09
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Try Christiania bikes from Denamrk, if they an be delivered where you live:

alt text

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See freiheit's remark on Kyralessa's question, carrying a child in this would still be breaking the would-be law. –  Neil Fein Jan 18 '11 at 17:21
    
Rather depends on the wording of the law and the definition, in law, of "bicycle" –  Murph Jan 18 '11 at 17:26
    
@neilfein, sorry, Kyralessa's answer was getting downvoted (rather rudely, I thought) so it's deleted now. –  Kyralessa Jan 19 '11 at 1:07
    
@Murph: I added the key bits of the Oregon definition of a bicycle to my answer; the above definitely qualifies. Also, in most states, if it's not a "bicycle" or some other defined category of vehicle, it's not allowed on the road. –  freiheit Jan 19 '11 at 17:03
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One of the best reference articles on the topic of children and bicycles is Family Biking Ages and Stages from the Totcycle.com blog.

A bakfiets is great for the youngest rides because a the child rides in front of you, so you can make eye-contact. A rear-facing carseat can be strapped in, and the center of gravity is down low, and the baby is further protected by a wooden box as well.

I took my 3 month old soon for his first bike ride in our bakfiets today.

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I've been pretty happy with a connector piece between my bike and a small kid's bike. I even did two cycling holidays with it. The brand I used was "follow me" which made for a particularly solid connection.

Some pictures (spiced up with unreadable Dutch text): http://reinout.vanrees.org/ligfiets/follow-me.html

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