Cycling with children what you need to consider

In the wake of Corona, the bicycle has (re)gained importance for many people. Some take their own bike to get to work in the fresh air and thus avoid public transport in the Corona pandemic. Others have discovered the bike as a fitness tool or as a way to "get out a little" of the Corona rut together with the family. But especially when traveling with children by bicycle, parents should pay attention to a few things so that the tour does not end badly in the end.

(K)one helmet obligation

Even if there is no helmet obligation in Germany so far, the helmet should be obligatory for everyone when riding a bicycle. Those who get children into the habit of using a helmet from the very beginning ensure their safety in the long term.

Meanwhile, users of certain e-bikes should be careful. For some models helmets are mandatory. An e-bike that can reach speeds of up to 45 km/h has met the requirements of § 21a of the German Road Traffic Regulations (StVO) and thus a helmet must be worn when riding it. In turn, this also means that insurance companies can partially or completely refuse benefits and payments in the event of an accident without a helmet.

The ADAC, in turn, expressly recommends wearing a bicycle helmet – regardless of the speed at which the child is traveling. Tips for the right bicycle helmet can be found, among other places, on the website of the German Road Safety Association (Deutsche Verkehrswacht).

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At walking speed on the sidewalk

According to the German Road Traffic Act, children are allowed to ride their bicycles on the sidewalk at walking speed if they have not yet reached the age of ten. Meanwhile, a child younger than eight must use the sidewalk for bicycling or an existing bike lane that is structurally separated from the roadway. A child under the age of eight should not be allowed to use a bike lane that only has painted demarcations on the street. From the age of ten, all children are subject to the same general cycling regulations as adults. What many don't know:

Since the end of 2016, parents have been allowed to ride on the sidewalk with their child, who has not yet reached the age of eight, as an accompanying person. However, only one parent may. Do not ride both together or even the entire family. The child as well as the supervisor must also dismount before crossing a roadway according to § 2 paragraph 5 of the German Road Traffic Regulations (StVO).

Dear parents, watch out: Who takes his children with a bicycle seat or in a trailer, may therefore not simply use the sidewalk for riding. According to the catalog of fines, parents theoretically have to pay 5 euros if they transport a child older than seven in a children's bicycle trailer.

The (safe) child's bike

Even if children up to the age of ten are not yet allowed to participate in public traffic on the road, the bicycle must be roadworthy. Accordingly, the bicycle must be "fully equipped with the prescribed technical devices, such as bell, brake, headlight and rear light, as well as reflectors front and rear," according to the German Road Safety Association (Deutsche Verkehrswacht).

In addition to safe bike equipment, parents should make sure that the bike is properly adjusted to the child. This means, for example, that the child must be able to support itself securely with both legs while standing. For children over the age of ten, the rule with the two feet no longer applies. Likewise, according to the Deutsche Verkehrswacht, the handles should have padded ends. "Good children's bikes have a coaster brake and a handbrake for the front wheel," it continues. The ADAC also has a checklist for this on its website.

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Liability for accidental damage caused by children

Up to the age of seven, children are generally not liable for damage they cause to a third party (§ 828 paragraph 1 BGB). Children are not liable for damage caused by them in an accident with a motor vehicle, railroad or monorail until they reach the age of ten; before that, they are not liable for damage caused in an accident with a vehicle.

Children are again covered by their parents' liability insurance in the event of damage they cause. If children suffer damage themselves, even if they are at fault – such as after failing to yield to someone else's right of way – they will receive full compensation for damages.

The "classic" case of damage to a parked car, on the other hand, is somewhat different. A child who is eight years old or older and hits a parked or stationary car can be held responsible for the damage, or the parents are then likely to be held liable.

Practice makes perfect

In order to minimize the risks of accidents and damage, the ADAC, for example, advises that "children should not be allowed to participate in road traffic on their own on bicycles until they have passed their school bicycle test in the third or fourth grade (depending on the federal state)."Parents should then always check the rules of conduct they have learned in practice.

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If you want to give your children an additional fun in bicycle education, you could for example think about participating in bicycle tournaments from the ADAC. In addition to school cycling training, these can further develop safe handling of one's own bicycle in road traffic. Children practice here on courses important driving techniques – so in the end it works out with a safe and joint family bike ride on weekends and holidays.

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