Bicycle baby transport in the Netherlands
July 25, 2011 3:32 PM   Subscribe

What is a typical minimum age at which babies are taken as passengers on bicycles in the Netherlands? What kind of carrier tends to be used at this age (trailer? car seat mounted on bike? bakfiets?).

Here in North America, it's recommended not to take babies on bikes until they are at least one year old, but the reason for that seems to be that their necks aren't strong enough to support a helmet until then. I'm curious how this works in Nederland's very different cycling culture, where helmet use is uncommon and bikes are used for every day transportation by many people, who are much less likely to have a car.
posted by Emanuel to Travel & Transportation around The Netherlands (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well, infants are often put in their carriers in a bakfiets. And particularly when the family has more than one child, they'll often use this up until age 5 or 6 or so.

Before transitioning to their own little bikes, there'll be a period of being placed in a kind of booster seat at the front and/or back of the adult's bike. I've seen kids as young as 2 and as old as 8 in the booster seats. They'll usually start riding their own bikes on the street with adults by their side from around 7 or 8. Riding alone, from around 9 or 10. All approximate, depends on how busy traffic is, where the family lives, etc.
posted by likeso at 3:56 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Forgot to link to the booster seats! Here are kinderzitjes.
posted by likeso at 4:12 PM on July 25, 2011

posted by likeso at 4:13 PM on July 25, 2011

Best answer: It is recommended not to put your child on your bike before they can sit by themselves (usually 6-9 months, sometimes 12 months).. Until about age 2 or 3 children are typically in a seat at the front, after that, on the back. With a bakfiets or a trailer they are in a car seat, and they can be in there from a few weeks old. There are also other ways to put a car seat on a bicycle for younger babies, but you don't see those much anymore. Bakfietsen have gained a lot of popularity in the last decade. Before that, you never saw them. They are still rather expensive and most people wait until their child is old enough for a seat. Most people here do have a car, and most people can walk to grocery stores etc, so a bicycle adds a lot of freedom, and mothers often love it when their child is old enough, but it is not a necessity.
posted by davar at 4:35 PM on July 25, 2011

Also, public transportation within cities is usually pretty comprehensive. Not quite as flexible as a bicycle, but a good alternative for when you can't/don't want to use a bicycle.
posted by HFSH at 1:46 AM on July 26, 2011

Best answer: Here in Amsterdam I also see fairly often parents carrying tiny babies in slings or carriers-backpacks things... I'm not sure how much more or less safe it is than in front of a bakfiets, but it's not unusual to see.
posted by PardonMyFrench at 2:37 AM on July 26, 2011

I am an American and had the same question, because the 1 year threshold seems quite arbitrary (and at 9 months, my son was larger then the average 1 year old). Fortunately, I have a relative who works as a pediatrician in the Netherlands. Her advice was to put a helmet on the child, for example during dinner. If he or she can sit upright for 10 minutes without any apparent neck fatigue, it's OK to ride in a bike seat. Of course, begin with shorter rides and do try to avoid any sudden braking or bumps.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:36 AM on July 26, 2011

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