Come the weekend, you'll often find HoneyKids editor Amy and her hubby ferrying their young kids around on the back of their bikes. Here, she shares the ultimate guide to hitting the road with your minis in tow!
As much as I love Singapore’s awesome public transport offerings and the affordability of taxis, sometimes you can’t beat some good ol’ fashioned pedal power. If you’re anything like me (and the whopping great wraparound queue around Decathlon every weekend would suggest many of you are), then you’ll have embraced the joys of cycling since the pandemic hit. Heading out for a family bike ride at the weekend helps us get some quality time together, while also enjoying some fresh air and seeing some sights. All while also adhering to social distancing rules, of course. With two kids under four who aren’t ready for powering their own big rides, what’s a mum to do? Toddler bike seats. Worried about wobbles? Concerned about cycling on roads? Here’s the complete guide to baby and child bike seat safety…
Along for the ride: child bike seat safety
Rules and regulations
If you’re new to cycling in Singapore, you’ll need to have good control over your bicycle before venturing out with your kid strapped on the back. Especially if your route involves roads shared with other types of vehicles. I’d advise avoiding peak-hour traffic and planning your route before you set off. So long as you respect the rules of the road and are extra aware, cycling on roads isn’t as scary as you might think. I’ve often been shown great courtesy from drivers when cycling, especially when I’m carrying the children. That said, there are still some utter ignoramuses on the road, so keep your wits about you.
The rules for cycling on the road in Singapore are pretty straightforward:
- Obey all traffic signals and travel in the same direction as the traffic.
- Always wear a helmet.
- Cycle in a single file on single-lane roads and during bus lane operational hours (otherwise, cycling two abreast is allowed).
- Switch on front white and rear red light in the dark.
- Do not use a mobile communication device while riding.
- Children under 16 can’t ride power-assisted bikes (PABs) on roads.
- They also can’t be carried as a passenger on PABs on roads.
Guidelines for safe cycling
For added safety, especially if you’re cycling with a loaded-up child seat, bear these safe cycling in Singapore guidelines in mind:
- Always ride as close as practicable to the left-hand edge of roads, and allow traffic to overtake you safely. Keep a straight course, do not weave through traffic and avoid sudden swerves.
- Always use bicycle lanes when available.
- Keep a safe distance behind moving vehicles.
- Do not squeeze between the kerb and a bus that has stopped at a bus stop, or a turning vehicle and a kerb.
- Slow down and look out for other road users when approaching bends, junctions, bus stops and pedestrian crossings, or when passing a parked car.
- If the hill is too steep, get off and walk with the bicycle. Keep your cycling speed under control when riding on downhill roads.
- Wear bright-coloured clothing to increase your visibility to other vehicles and pedestrians.
- Plan ahead and pick the safest route, and keep out of heavy traffic as much as possible.
- Do not carry anything in your arms that may interfere with the proper control of your bicycle.
- Keep both hands on the handlebars. When signalling your intention to change course or make a turn, do so ahead of time and return your hand to the handlebars before you turn.
Can I bring my bike on public transport?
Since we’re talking about standard bikes and child seats in this article, that would be a big fat no. However, sans kids, if you’ve got a foldable bike, you’re allowed to take it on the bus or MRT (folded up) at any time of the day.
What paths can I cycle on?
As a pedestrian, I’ll admit I can get a little frustrated at times with cyclists on footpaths whizzing past and narrowly avoiding taking my ankles out. Which means when it’s my turn with the bike, I’m super-considerate and down with the RULES. Be like me. Follow the rules.
Cycling paths and Park Connectors
You’ll know you’re on ’em from the markings on the ground. The huge ‘PCN’ is a giveaway for the latter, while the bike icon identifies a cycle path. They have a speed limit of 25km/h, and can be used by cyclists and users of PABs. Also can be used by motorised and non-motorised personal mobility devices (PMDs), so kick-scooters, electric scooters, hoverboards and unicycles.
Cycling on footpaths/pavements
Bicycles and non-motorised PMDs, such as manual scooters, can be used on footpaths. Anything motorised? Nope. Also bear in mind the speed limit for footpaths is 10km/h.
What gear do I need?
Fancy wearing head-to-toe lycra and racing unitards? Yeah, me neither. Whether you prefer to wear normal casual wear or activewear, the important takeaway is that you’re comfortable. If you’re constantly digging out your camel-toe-clinging hotpants, then no amount of child bike seat safety advice is going to help! I tend to favour workout tights and activewear tops as they a) help protect me more from the sun, b) help minimise me grazing my calves with the pedals and c) whip away that sweat after all those speedy sprints!
Just be sure to wear proper shoes: no flip flops! And be sure to slather the kids in sunscreen so they aren’t cooking in those toddler bike seats.
These are an absolute must. By their very nature, you can’t foresee accidents and cyclist collisions from happening (and have you seen how busy East Coast Park is on a Sunday?!). So it’s vital to protect everyone’s noggins from any potential bumps. My advice? Try before you buy: maybe avoid shopping online unless you’ve tried the fit previously. Also don’t buy secondhand helmets.
Sturdy child bike seats
Kind of a no-brainer in an article on child bike seat safety, right? There are no hard and fast rules in Singapore about kids’ seats other than that you should use “appropriate” ones. I can recommend the kids’ bike seats at Decathlon (bought after braving aforementioned monster queue). You can also check out bicycle child seats from Footloops, Treknology and Thule.
Where to go for family bike rides
Now that you’ve got all your equipment, the kids are strapped in, and you’ve swotted up on child bike seat safety, let’s ride! We’ve compiled a guide to our fave family bike rides in Singapore, so check that out for starters. The good news is that there is a huge park connector network, meaning you can avoid roads a large amount of the time. However, providing you are a confident, aware and vigilant cyclist, using your bike on the road with your kid on the back is fine. And it’s sometimes necessary to get you to some truly gorgeous spots on the island!
Other than Sentosa, Pulau Ubin is one of my fave places to go cycling. Bum boats from Changi are happy to ferry bikes over for a small extra charge, although you’ve got to get the bikes there first! Which is troublesome if you don’t have a car because, hello, no public transport options for bikes. I say hire bikes when you get there and save the faff. Don’t forget to read what real mums have to say about Pulau Ubin with kids before you go!
What about cycling in the heat?
Honestly? I find cycling to be one of the breeziest forms of exercise! There’s nothing quite like whizzing down one of Sentosa’s hills and feeling the air waft in your face. (Although hearing my son squawk, “Faster, Mummy! Faster!” when I’m busting a lung on the uphill is not so fun.) Be sure to pop on some sunscreen and take it with you so you can reapply once the sweat dries…
Happy cycling! Don’t forget to tag HoneyKids on Instagram when you’re on your adventures.