Planning and Design for Cyclists Carrying Children: Where Are We Now? What More Do We Need?

Planning and Design for Cyclists Carrying Children: Where Are We Now? What More Do We Need?


Graham James, Parsons Brinckerhoff


Adult cyclists with young children on child seats, trailers, etc can contribute to cycling growth but have particular engineering design and planning needs. This paper reviews how transport planners can help to meet these needs and support inclusion.


This paper examines why and how transport planners and engineers should support cycling by families with young children. By widening the focus beyond traditional cyclist demographics, this can help to secure cycling growth and make cycling more socially inclusive.

The paper focuses on ‘child-carrying’ cycling, in which an adult cyclist carries one or more children on the adult’s cycle. This can be done by a range of methods, including child seats, trailers, ‘tag-alongs’, child/cargo compartments and tricycles.

In successful cycling cities such as Cambridge, England, child-carrying cycling is relatively common, and this experience offers useful pointers. However, this type of cycling – and the particular needs of these cyclists – is not often discussed by transport planners and engineers.

The paper therefore:
• Explains the need to consider child-carrying cycling, including the potential size of the market to be tapped
• Relates this back to existing socio-demographic work on cycling propensity
• Notes that recent UK interventions have focused on older children who can cycle for themselves, such as to school – but not on this demographic
• Recognises parallels with other non-traditional cycling, including disabled people and cycle logistics
• Describes the different ways in which young children can be carried by cycle, and the issues presented by each of these
• Assesses how well current UK design guidance reflects these issues
• Identifies issues for transport planners and engineers to consider, including:
o The dynamics of child-carrying cyclists
o Route choice
o Attitudes to cycling with children
o Availability of suitable cycles and fittings
o The design vehicle, its dynamics and engineering geometry
o What type and location of cycle parking is suitable, at home and at destinations

The paper concludes by highlighting:
• Some practical conclusions for designers and planners (in particular, on design vehicles, geometry and family-friendly cycle parking)
• Potential ‘next steps’ for cycling policy and development of guidance to better reflect these cycling needs

While the paper draws mainly on UK experience, the issues and potential solutions are widely relevant across Europe.


Association for European Transport