So you’ve decided you’re all getting back in the saddle this year, but before you hit the cycle paths, you might like to check out our tips for a successful family outing.
Want to escape the morning traffic? Need to get more exercise? Want to get some fresh air and do something to help the environment? Want to save on fuel? Whatever your reasons, cycling is always a good idea, with the added bonus that this means of transport is suitable for all lifestyles, and especially for families. But before we talk about frames, here are a few recommendations not just for cyclists, young and old alike, but also for their passengers!
Helmets are, of course, so important for cyclists as they reduce the risk of serious injury, while safety waistcoats are equally crucial for making cyclists more visible. You should also check the condition of your bike at least once a week, just as you would with your car, especially since under-inflated tyres and worn brakes are frequent causes of accidents.
Riding with children
Do you have young children? If they can already get by more or less on their own, then why not start by considering a tow bar or follower bike, which will allow you to link their bike to yours so that they can pedal to their heart's content and gradually gain confidence?
If they’re still too small for that, though, there are a number of ways you can use your bike to transport them. Child seats are one of the most common solutions, whereby a front bike seat can be used to carry children from 9 months to 3 years of age and weighing up to 15kg. For anything above that, it's better to go for a rear seat designed for children aged 3 to 6 years of age and weighing up to 25kg.
The drawbacks, of course, are that your child will be very exposed in bad weather and that they’re likely to find themselves in an uncomfortable position if they fall asleep. So what’s the alternative? Well, you could always go for a bike trailer... As well as being safe and secure, a trailer will protect your child from bad weather and the sun. Not only do its large transparent windows allow young passengers to watch the world going by as they travel along, but the space it offers will also enable them to take along toys, their favourite teddy, books and snacks, which are very useful if you are planning a long ride. The added bonus, of course, is that some one-wheel trailers are all-terrain!
The cargo bike trend
If you really want to do without a car, an electrically-assisted cargo bike is a must. These bikes are robust and can carry up to four passengers, not to mention your pets or shopping,
and are available in a choice of two models. The two-wheeled and three-wheeled bikes have a fairly wide front body, perfect for heavy loads, and while the former is lighter and easier to manoeuvre than the latter, both are particularly recommended for use in urban areas. Of course, it takes a bit of practice before you can feel completely at ease using it on a daily basis; the weight-to-volume ratio can be surprising at first and it’s important to remember that you can't use cargo bikes on pavements as you would with your usual city bike. You still can do that with a longtail - a bike with an extended luggage carrier to accommodate two children or larger items, which is more versatile, easy to store and handles similarly to a classic bike. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, so it’s up to you to find one that works for you.
Before you hit the cycle tracks with your children, introduce them to the rules of the road and cycling by taking them to a ‘traffic garden’ or Verkéiersgaart. There are several such locations across the country, including in Dudelange and Capellen, all designed to allow children to learn the rules of the road in a protected environment. Just like normal roads, traffic gardens have signs, roundabouts, road markings, traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, junctions and islands, giving children the opportunity to learn how to deal with various situations and react appropriately.