Monday, February 04, 2008

Baby in a wreck?

…HA sometimes sees people zipping along on a bicycle with a baby strapped in a seat on the back. It makes her a little queasy. (She should talk—she used to take her baby down the block-long escalators in a tacky little stroller in DC.)

…Safety expert Debra Holtzman, however, shares HA’s misgivings (and would probably have fainted at the subway judgment described above).

…A baby does not have enough neck strength to balance that large head in case of a sudden stop.

…After age 1, children can support a lightweight helmet, she says, and ride in a trailer or rear-mounted seat.

…Select the right helmet. Head injuries are the leading cause of you-know-what on a bike. Toddler helmets are a must! Adults, too.

…Make sure the seat says American Society of Testing and Materials approved—ASTM.

…Rear-mounteds are usually OK for up to 40 lbs. A trailer can hold 100 lbs.

…Holtzman prefers trailers for their stability.

…Before you set off on some big excursion, practice riding with the child onboard. A rear-mounted seat changes the center of gravity. Get used to it. Only skilled bike riders should attempt to bring a child along. Practice turns without the child even in there.

…Be visible—wear fluorescent clothing. Avoid riding at dawn or dusk.

…If the kids hates it and screams or struggles—forget it.

…OK, OK, the flimsy stroller and straight-up-and-down escalator—bad idea. She lived, fortunately.

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