what is the law on front mounted child seats

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Leslar, Jun 1, 2003.

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  1. Leslar

    Leslar Guest

    I was told today that it is against the law to use a front mounted child seat on your bike in the
    USA. Is this true????
     
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  2. > I was told today that it is against the law to use a front mounted child seat on your bike in the
    > USA. Is this true????

    Perhaps it should be, but as far as I know it isn't. It's incredibly dangerous to have a child
    within reach of the handlebars; it's also very dangerous to have weight shifting around
    unpredictably on the front of a bicycle. They're just not designed for that.

    --Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReactionBicycles.com
     
  3. Pete

    Pete Guest

    "Leslar" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I was told today that it is against the law to use a front mounted child seat on your bike in the
    > USA. Is this true????

    Haven't seen any law against it (YMMV)...but I found it VERY uncomfortable. Knees poking way out to
    the side to pedal.

    And almost impossible to get the same kid protection in a front seat as in a rear mounted seat.

    It is more sociable, though.

    Pete
     
  4. Jacques

    Jacques Guest

    I've made a bad experience with a front mounted child seat. I was riding in the woods with my 3
    years old son on a bike lent by a friend. The child seat was not only front mounted but also quite
    basic. After a while I heard a rattling noise, and thought for a second that I had a small piece of
    wood trapped in the front wheel. Then I heard my son scream, and I realized that his foot was
    actually doing the noise. His foot was badly hurt, though fortunately not broken.

    The second part of the story has nothing to do with cycling but I can't resist telling it. The story
    happened during our holidays in former Czechoslovakia, some 2-3 years only after the communists
    left. Our friend brought us to the nearest hospital. We waited about 10 minutes. An X-ray was done,
    the leg was treated, and a plaster (is it the right word ? my english has limits) was made. We
    didn't pay one single cent and were not even asked our names. Our insurance never knew about it.
    This was a relatively poor country, but basic health was well provided for.

    Jacques
     
  5. Hunrobe

    Hunrobe Guest

    >[email protected]

    wrote:

    >I was told today that it is against the law to use a front mounted child seat on your bike in the
    >USA. Is this true????

    It's a very bad idea but it's certainly not a federal offense.

    Inmate #1- "I'm in for kidnapping and air piracy. What are you in for?" Inmate #2- "They got me on a
    RICO case and money laundering. What about you?" Inmate #3- "Unlawful transportation of a child. I
    put my 3 yr old in a front mounted child seat on my bicycle."
    <g>

    Regards, Bob Hunt
     
  6. > I was told today that it is against the law to use a front mounted child seat on your bike in the
    > USA. Is this true????
    >
    There are fifty different states, each with their own set of laws. If the person who told you about
    seats didn't know that, then they don't know very much. What the laws in any state are, I don't
    know. Nor probably do most policemen, so any law is unlikely to be enforced.

    Jeremy Parker
     
  7. Robert Chung

    Robert Chung Guest

    "Mike Jacoubowsky" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > > I was told today that it is against the law to use a front mounted child seat on your bike in
    > > the USA. Is this true????
    >
    > Perhaps it should be, but as far as I know it isn't. It's incredibly dangerous to have a child
    > within reach of the handlebars; it's also very dangerous to have weight shifting around
    > unpredictably on the front of a bicycle. They're just not designed for that.

    It appears to be an extraordinarily common design in the Netherlands, and has been for a while.
     
  8. Robert Chung

    Robert Chung Guest

    "Hunrobe" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > >[email protected]
    >
    > wrote:
    >
    > >I was told today that it is against the law to use a front mounted child seat on your bike in the
    > >USA. Is this true????
    >
    > It's a very bad idea but it's certainly not a federal offense.

    Why do you think it a very bad idea?
     
  9. On Tue, 3 Jun 2003 18:57:57 +0200, "Robert Chung" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >It appears to be an extraordinarily common design in the Netherlands, and has been for a while.

    Not extraordinarily common, really. Most people get a rearmount first, and the frontmounts are
    for riding with two kids. And then there's the 1 front plus 2 rears configuration which is
    downright rare.

    As long as you're going at the kinds of speeds that are usual here (ie, 14 mph absolute max, more
    usually 10-11), it;'s apparently not that big a problem.

    Jasper
     
  10. Robert Chung

    Robert Chung Guest

    "Jasper Janssen" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > On Tue, 3 Jun 2003 18:57:57 +0200, "Robert Chung" <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    > >It appears to be an extraordinarily common design in the Netherlands, and has been for a while.
    >
    > Not extraordinarily common, really. Most people get a rearmount first, and the frontmounts are
    > for riding with two kids. And then there's the 1 front plus 2 rears configuration which is
    > downright rare.

    I saw one this weekend--and I mean a Bobike Mini mounted on a 't Mannetje Filiduo, all seats
    occupied. I saw a couple of other Filiduos without the front Bobike. And while I saw more rear-mount
    seats, I would say that the ratio of rear seats to fronts was maybe 5-to-1, surely less than
    10-to-1. In the U.S. that ratio might be 100 times larger. It was in that context that I was using
    "extraordinarily common," sort of like saying that SUV's in the U.S. are extraordinarily common
    although they comprise far less than half of all vehicles.

    I also saw a couple of Bakfiets with kids in them -- didn't see anyone with two kids in the front of
    a Bakfiets and one in a rear-mount seat, but it wouldn't have surprised me all that much if I had.

    Back to the issue of relative risk: I've looked and I can't find any data that suggests that there's
    any safety difference between the two designs (front and back child seats), just as I've never been
    able to find any data that shows a difference between carrying a child in a (rear) seat and in a
    trailer. Do you know of any? I'm an agnostic on the "safest" way to carry kids, but since Mike J.
    and Bob Hunt appear to be so sure that there was a difference, I was guessing that they must have
    seen the data.
     
  11. > Back to the issue of relative risk: I've looked and I can't find any data that suggests that
    > there's any safety difference between the two designs (front and back child seats), just as I've
    > never been able to find any
    data
    > that shows a difference between carrying a child in a (rear) seat and in a trailer. Do you know of
    > any? I'm an agnostic on the "safest" way to carry kids, but since Mike J. and Bob Hunt appear to
    > be so sure that there was a difference, I was guessing that they must have seen the data.

    Data? No, not in any organized fashion. Just seen the results (and people coming in wondering why
    their bike isn't stable and what they can do to make it ride better when they've got a bunch of
    weight on the front end that it wasn't designed for).

    Don't think there's reliable data on car crashes caused by dealing with kids screaming in the car
    either. The point is that kids can be a serious distraction to dealing with road conditions. Yes,
    it's great to be able to bring kids along, but a bit of common sense isn't such a bad thing.

    --Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReactionBicycles.com
     
  12. Robert Chung

    Robert Chung Guest

    "Mike Jacoubowsky" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    >
    > Data? No, not in any organized fashion. Just seen the results (and
    people
    > coming in wondering why their bike isn't stable and what they can do to
    make
    > it ride better when they've got a bunch of weight on the front end that it wasn't designed for).

    Back in the Bay Area I used to put my daughter in a rear-mounted seat on a mountain bike. Since then
    I've ridden a bike with a front-mounted child carrier and I didn't think it was particularly
    unstable. A bike with a front-mounted seat handles differently than one with a rear-mounted seat but
    not so oddly that it ever caused me trouble. In fact, getting her into and out of the seat was
    easier with a front seat since the bike is more stable. Two important things: the bike that this
    Bobike Mini was mounted onto was an upright step-through city bike with swept back handlebars (not a
    mountain bike with straight bars and especially not a road bike with drop handlebars); and my
    daughter was probably less than 10 kg at the time. She was also trained not to shift around and
    fiddle with things, and that applies pretty well both to front- and rear-mounted seats.

    > Yes, it's great to be able to bring kids along, but a bit of common sense isn't such a bad thing.

    I absolutely agree. Part of that common sense is not putting a front-mounted seat on an
    inappropriate bike, or putting an inappropriately-sized child in a front-mounted seat (height of the
    child matters more than the weight, in my opinion).

    I searched around for quite a while for info on trailers vs. seats, and front-mounted seats vs.
    rear-mounted seats. Like you, I couldn't find any comparative data. I think the reason is that
    parents are careful enough and exhibit enough common sense that accidents are (thankfully) rare. I'm
    sure that there *are* differences between trailers and rear-seats and front-seats -- I'm just not
    sure which is safer or how big and important the differences are. Part of what I do for a living is
    to analyze data for small differences in relative risk, and one of the things I've learned is that
    common sense doesn't always translate well into actual odds ratios. A side-effect of that is that I
    try not to intimate that people who put their kids into front-mounted seats (or rear seats as
    opposed to trailers) are taking unacceptable risks with their kids. When people ask me about child
    seats, I relate my experiences but tell them I haven't yet come to a final conclusion. I just don't
    have enough information to know.
     
  13. Robert Chung

    Robert Chung Guest

    "Hunrobe" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > >"Robert Chung" [email protected] wrote
    >>
    > >Why do you think it a very bad idea?
    >
    > For the same reason I think a 25-40 lb handlebar bag is a bad idea. Adding that much weight to the
    > front wheel makes the bike handle poorly. Adding that same 25-40 lbs to the rear wheel doesn't
    > have quite as bad an effect on the handling. I don't view it as a child safety issue so much as a
    > bikehandling issue.

    Before I rode a bike with a front-mounted child seat I was a bit apprehensive about the handling,
    too. Now I think the 25-40 lb handlebar analogy isn't quite appropriate, for a few reasons.

    First, these seats are limited in the size of kid they can accomodate (the kid's legs have to be
    short) so we're really talking about kids less than maybe 10kg max or so. Second, the seat sits
    behind the handlebar, not over the front wheel. And third, most of the bikes on which these things
    get attached have very different geometry than most bikes in the U.S. BTW, some of these seats
    (though not the one I experienced) are attachable to the top tube (or a top tube-like attachment)
    rather than the handlebars.

    Most of the bikes that use this style of seat are upright city bikes with backswept bars, relaxed
    head tube angle, big fork rake, and longish wheelbase. Being more used to normal drop-bar road
    bikes, I found that in these things the steering was a tad light for my taste. Popping a tot into a
    front-mounted seat actually made handling a bit less squirrely.

    To be fair, I had limited exposure to this set-up, and my memories date from two summers ago. My
    daughter is too big for such a seat now. I'm simply pointing out that one shouldn't dismiss
    front-mounted seats out of hand based on experiences with big handlebar bags.
     
  14. Robert Chung

    Robert Chung Guest

    "Hunrobe" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > >"Robert Chung"
    >
    > wrote in part:
    >
    > > I'm simply pointing out that one shouldn't dismiss front-mounted seats out of hand based on
    > > experiences with big handlebar bags.
    >
    > And I'm simply pointing out that if a front-mounted seat will only work on
    a
    > very small percentage of the bikes most rbm posters ride- few here ride "upright city bikes with
    > backswept bars, relaxed head tube angle, big fork rake, and longish wheelbase"- then to recommend
    > them to the NG isn't a
    good
    > thing.

    Hmmm. You've misunderstood what I wrote, for which I accept all the blame. I should have
    been clearer.

    I wasn't saying that a front-mounted seat will *only* work on a city bike. If you look back
    upthread, I was writing that for city bikes a front-mounted seat *improves* handling (in the sense
    that it makes the bike handle more like what I'm used to). I mentioned it because it seemed
    paradoxical to me at the time, not because I was suggesting that this was the only bike it would
    work on. I've seen front-mounted child seats here on MTBs, so I know that people do this -- it's
    just that my only experience with them was on a city bike.

    BTW, if you're at all interested in seeing what I'm talking about, here's the model that was on the
    bike that I rode: http://www.bobike.nl/en/ouders/assortiment/bobike_mini/bobike_mini.htm

    And here's a link to a different model that attaches to the top tube:
    http://www.centricsafehaven.com/description.htm

    Thus far, I haven't recommended anything other than that one shouldn't dismiss front-mounted seats
    out of hand.

    OTOH, since you do believe that they are a detriment to handling, I'm intrigued by your statement
    that a very bad handling bike is not a safety issue. Or did I, in turn, misunderstand?
     
  15. "Robert Chung" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    >
    > Hmmm. You've misunderstood what I wrote, for which I accept all the
    blame. I
    > should have been clearer.
    >
    > I wasn't saying that a front-mounted seat will *only* work on a city
    bike.
    > If you look back upthread, I was writing that for city bikes a
    front-mounted
    > seat *improves* handling (in the sense that it makes the bike handle more like what I'm used to).
    > I mentioned it because it seemed paradoxical to
    me
    > at the time, not because I was suggesting that this was the only bike it would work on. I've seen
    > front-mounted child seats here on MTBs, so I
    know
    > that people do this -- it's just that my only experience with them was on
    a
    > city bike.
    >

    I've been intrigued by these seats and as such have talked with several people on the street that
    I've run into using them. All of the ones I've seen were being used on mountain bikes. Each of the
    people I spoke with were highly enthusiastic about the seats and said their children really liked
    being in front. I did not get the feeling that they were difficult to handle by either the people
    themselves nor by watching them being used.
     
  16. Pete

    Pete Guest

    "one of the six billion" <[email protected]> wrote
    >
    > I've been intrigued by these seats and as such have talked with several people on the street that
    > I've run into using them. All of the ones I've seen were being used on mountain bikes. Each of the
    > people I spoke with were highly enthusiastic about the seats and said their children really liked
    > being in front. I did not get the feeling that they were difficult to handle by either the people
    > themselves nor by watching them being used.

    The main problem I had (on a Dutch 'city bike') was my knees and arms being forced outward. Handling
    wasn't that much changed, because you're NOT riding near as hard as a regular ride.

    And on the Gazelle, I was sitting pretty upright. Mostly just tooling down to the store.

    I still much prefer a trailer, though.

    Pete
     
  17. Zoot Katz

    Zoot Katz Guest

    Thu, 5 Jun 2003 21:35:56 +0200, <[email protected]>, "Robert Chung"
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    >And here's a link to a different model that attaches to the top tube:
    >http://www.centricsafehaven.com/description.htm

    This attaches to the seat post and head tube. The bar carrying the seat is a hunk of channel stock
    that runs parallel to the top tube. The seat is easily removable leaving the support bar in place.
    --
    zk
     
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