When it comes to having a good experience on a cargo bike, safety is paramount. Although you might be tempted to choose an option based on the look and design of the bike, if you’re planning on using it regularly — especially with your children — safety features should be top of the priority list. Cargo bikes are engineered with safety in mind. Consider that they have to pass a series of roadworthy tests before they can be sold to the market. In terms of you and your children having a safe experience when you actually hit the road, the following tips are useful to keep in mind.
Depending on the cargo bike, kids can be carried in a variety of different ways. Longtail bikes let you carry children as far back as a rack over the back wheel. No matter which way you do it, it’s very important to check the seat belt system, which will make sure they are secure for the duration of the ride. The latest DEKRA road safety report makes the matter clear as day: children can only safely ride on cargo bikes when it is equipped with a seatbelt system. Check the seat belt system regularly and don’t be shy about replacing it if you spot wear and tear.
Touching on what we just mentioned, it’s important to remember to actually use the seatbelt system too. Dealing with a big family can be chaotic at times, and we’re all going to forget a couple of things when the brood leaves the house together from time to time. Set a reminder on your phone to double check that everybody is strapped in before every ride. The team of experts from DEKRA also regularly mention the importance of children being strapped in every single time they use the bike. This goes equally for a quick stop at the shop around the corner or for longer scenic drives on a Sunday afternoon.
An added safety precaution when you’re riding on a cargo bike is a helmet to protect your head. This might not seem as important during the actual ride, and you may face some resistance from your children when it comes to wearing these, but you should be insistent every single time. In the event of an accident, a helmet can mean the difference between a couple of scratches and sustaining serious neck and back injuries. Just like it’s important to double check that all seatbelts are secure with every ride, it’s just as important to do a head (helmet) count before you embark on your journey.
As the person transporting precious cargo, it’s very important for you to stay sharp during the course of the ride. This includes avoiding potential distractions (like a ringing phone) and keeping an eye on your surroundings at all times. As the cargo bike rider, you also have a duty to keep calm, especially when the younger members of the family may not be quite as calm. Anything from a small bird through to a loud noise could cause one of your children to react, and in those moments it’s vital to stay calm. The same goes in the unlikely event of an accident, where your role as leader and quick decision making can make all the difference.
One of the trickiest situations you may find yourself in as a cargo bike rider is that of navigating through intersections. This will be particularly hard during rush hour traffic. In these situations, staying alert and having a good look at your surroundings is very important. Although you may be tempted to drive straight through at the right light, always yield a little bit and check each side for oncoming traffic. As you are riding a smaller vehicle than the average car, it makes you a little harder to spot, so taking the extra precaution could help avoid a potential situation where another driver is distracted.
One of the best ways to make a cargo bike ride enjoyable (and memorable) is to keep communicating with your children. This provides them with reassurance that you’ve got control of the situation, helps them to engage with their surroundings, and makes it an all-round fun experience. Good communication can also make a world of difference in a location where you have to concentrate fully on the road. When you’re riding the cargo bike and doing your best to stay calm, try to avoid raising your voice or getting angry. This can affect your judgement and put a damper on the situation.
When you plan your trips before you leave, do what you can to avoid some of the busier areas or neighborhoods in the city. Time your trips well too, as a Sunday afternoon ride is far likely to be less stressful than one on a Monday morning during peak hour traffic. Use GPS technology to spot if there have been any accidents in or near your area, and talk to your kids about the route you will be taking. This not only makes them a part of the process, but shows them that it pays to be responsible about any form of travel. Avoiding busy areas can mean the difference between a great and a terrible experience, and better yet, means you reduce your travel time and potential to be in an accident too.
So are cargo bikes safe? Absolutely, as long as you get your bike from a manufacturer that prioritizes safety too. Any mode of transport comes with some safety concerns, as it’s impossible to control every moment of what happens out there on the road. The key is to follow safety advice and to make smart decisions to help avoid getting involved in a bad situation to begin with. Cargo bikes wouldn’t be on the roads if they weren’t a safe alternative to traditional transport, and with the right checklist of things to keep in mind, they can be used to their full potential. As the Taga team loves to say, our bikes are traveling around the world, and into the hearts of an abundance of families.