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VIDEO: The Dutch Way – How to Cycle with Babies

By Frantiska Blazkova

Yeah, we know that when it comes to urban cycling the Dutch take it all. While it might be tiring to be constantly slapped across the face with their resourcefulness and high-standard way of life, we should look past our pride and start taking notes instead. While many a Dutch person is taken by surprise that their usual daily routines might be very unusual for the rest of the world, cycling is as natural as breathing for them and every part of their lives is connected to it – so it doesn’t come as a surprise they don’t change their ways when the family expands.

We’ve already mentioned that better infrastructure might attract more women to urban cycling, but the Dutch are well past this point. While mums are regularly seen running errands with their children (yes, they’ve found a way how to fit as many as three kids safely on a single bike) the dads are more likely to take their kids for a leisure ride. The latter also applies to grandparents who love to take the little ones on cycle trips.

There is actually an established system of seats you can attach to either woman’s or man’s bike that you can start using as soon as the child is able to sit upright. At first, the babies are seated in the front in a special attachable seat with a lot of protective elements, as can be seen in the picture below. Windshields and feet protectors are also in place and security straps keeping the child in the seat are a no-brainer. These front seats can support up to 15 kg of weight, which equals to an age about 3 years. Children psychologists also state that this position provides parents with more contact with their young offspring (apart from somewhat safer baby trailer), while they interact on the way, pointing out things, etc.

Wind shield and feet protector can be seen in this mum’s bike setup.

Later on, usually with the arrival of the second baby, the older child is moved to the back seat mounted over the rear wheel and the ride can happily continue, even with a bag full of groceries or a handbag. These sturdy constructions can support up to 22 kg of weight.

Examples of front and back seats for children over three.

Although Dutch experts have no negative opinions on this common practice, save for not exceeding one hour of uninterrupted ride because the child’s blood flow might suffer due to limited movement in the seats, the rest of the world seems to be amazed by it sometimes. Commenters on YouTube from all over the world seems to be taken aback by the abundance of uncovered baby heads in such videos, but the Dutch are quick to point out that this is, again, due to brilliant infrastructure and the cities taking care of their cycling community, because nobody feels endangered.

To look at some numbers, most of the injuries sustained by children co-riding a bike with a parent/grandparent aren’t to the head but to the feet, knees, and soles because they get tangled in the spokes. The same applies to adults, with addition of scraped hands and elbows because of falls. A favourite Dutch bicycle blog “Bicycle Dutch” states that: “A safety board estimates that about 2,300 children per year need medical treatment after their feet were injured. This may sound like an awful lot, but you have to consider that of the 14 million bicycle trips per day in this country, many are made with children as passengers.”

Seats with spoke covers has been made mandatory since 2004 and the old second-hand versions are starting to be less and less common.

Clearly, as the video shows, taking your children along with you through the day is both enjoyable and beneficial to all parties involved. They get some fresh air and an early bicycle education and you get enviable calves’ definition and stronger bond with your child.

To look at this topic in more detail, head over to Bicycle Dutch’s thorough research.