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  1. #1
    Senior Member mparker326's Avatar
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    How do I safely ride on streets with a trailer?

    Do any of you safety gurus have any tips/techniques to riding on neighborhood streets with a trailer?

    My story: I recently bought a trailer to pull my 2 kids around. I’ve primarily used it on bike paths, but the couple of times I’ve picked my kids up from daycare with it, I’ve noticed a lot of nervous looking drivers passing me with wide berths (I know the wide berth is good, but I don’t trust nervous drivers). Also, I had to cross a main street so I took the lane to wait my turn to go. A driver pulled up in the left lane next to me and then proceeded to turn right into traffic in front of me.

  2. #2
    Senior Member John Wilke's Avatar
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    Personally, I wouldn't. Your cargo is too precious.

    jw

  3. #3
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    Put flags on the trailer so motorists know its there when it is hidden from view by other cars. Take corners wide so the inside trailer wheel doesnt hit the curb. Use a glasses or helmet mounted mirror so you can watch for suitable gaps in the traffic when you want to make a lane change. Ride with the trailer lots of times so drivers get accustomed to seeing bikes with trailers.

  4. #4
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    And keep a water bottle filled with ice that you can throw at vehicles turning right in front of you as described (you might want to also carry some pepper spray to back that up ).
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  5. #5
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    kids in traffic

    i second the reply of keeping a kid trailer out of any traffic.. might be fine for a stroll around the pond, but you're carrying a wide load. People back out of driveways without looking, thinking it's their kingdom, and space can get pretty tight between parked cars and 2-way traffic. You can't avoid collision as quickly as without the trailer. You can jump but they can't. Not worth the risk to transport from daycare. It's a damn shame to have to use a car to do this, but i'd fold it all, pile in and head for a park or car-free area to give the kids a ride.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Paul L.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewP
    Put flags on the trailer so motorists know its there when it is hidden from view by other cars. Take corners wide so the inside trailer wheel doesnt hit the curb. Use a glasses or helmet mounted mirror so you can watch for suitable gaps in the traffic when you want to make a lane change. Ride with the trailer lots of times so drivers get accustomed to seeing bikes with trailers.

    I second the suggestion on the mirror. I take my kids everywhere in the trailer. Either it is safe to ride a bike on the road or not. Trailer or no trailer. If it is so dangerous you should not be out there yourself as you could deprive your children of a father/mother. I find the trailer actually gets me more visibility and thereby safety. I can't address drivers pulling right hooks as I have not noticed that to be a problem myself. I have many many miles logged with a trailer, I do try to avoid streets without a well defined bikelane that are busy but I have been known to take a kid on 30 mile rides on routes with good shoulder. Most people smile and give us plenty of room.

    If it is more dangerous to ride an mup or sidewalk do to the intersections with the road I would suggest it is still more dangerous with a trailer.
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  7. #7
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    I've been using a double-wide Burley (usually with just my daughter, sometimes a friend a too) in traffic for several years, though recently she's graduated to a trailercycle.

    I wouldn't recommend it to someone who is not very comfortable riding in, and managing, traffic.

    Also, I had to cross a main street so I took the lane to wait my turn to go. A driver pulled up in the left lane next to me and then proceeded to turn right into traffic in front of me.
    Was the right lane that you were in right or straight? Where were you positioned laterally in this lane? How close to the stop line were you? Did this guy go out into the intersection from the left lane before turning right in front of you? Or did he use space that you left open in front of you between you and the stop line?

  8. #8
    Senior Member mparker326's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Was the right lane that you were in right or straight? Where were you positioned laterally in this lane? How close to the stop line were you? Did this guy go out into the intersection from the left lane before turning right in front of you? Or did he use space that you left open in front of you between you and the stop line?
    It was a 2 lane neighborhood road crossing a 2 lane main street with a speed limit of 30~35 mph. I was in the middle of the right lane (there was no turn lane) with my front wheel on the stop line. He got in the left lane next to me blocking any traffic that would have turned right onto the street off the main road. I was praying no one would turn right onto this street for fear of hitting him into me. His right signal was not on so I figured he was going straight or turning left. There was a gap in traffic in the right lane and he pulled out into the street and turned right. I was definately going to let him go first.

  9. #9
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    I used my child trailer to haul some stuff into work a while back and noticed something, people gave me all the room in the world when they passed me. I guess they assumed I had kids in the trailer and not power tools. I loved it!
    I have hauled my son around on neighborhood streets in the trailer, would never get on any street with an MPH higher than 35, I would consider that too dangerous for my son. When we ride I wear the brightest clothing I have, use the flag that came with the trailer, and make good use of my Air Zound horn to get attention.

  10. #10
    Electrical Hazard
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    Not too long ago, I watched a father take a bumpy corner too fast with his trailer, and it rolled.
    Seconds later there were screaming sounds coming from inside.
    Of course, the father quickly rushed to pull his kid out and comfort him.. I ran over and by that time the kid had quieted down.

    ..neither the father nor the kid had a helmet mind you..

  11. #11
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    I always securely belted and helmeted my kid in the trailer, but it never came close to rolling.

    I wonder if the trailer that you saw rolled was a Burley. They seem really stable.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mparker326
    It was a 2 lane neighborhood road crossing a 2 lane main street with a speed limit of 30~35 mph. I was in the middle of the right lane (there was no turn lane) with my front wheel on the stop line. He got in the left lane next to me blocking any traffic that would have turned right onto the street off the main road. I was praying no one would turn right onto this street for fear of hitting him into me. His right signal was not on so I figured he was going straight or turning left. There was a gap in traffic in the right lane and he pulled out into the street and turned right. I was definately going to let him go first.
    You did the right thing letting him go. There's no winning trying to counter motorist stupidity like that on a bike. About the only thing could do to maybe help the situation would be to pull further left at the intersection (assuming you were going straight) so that he could have clearly seen that you weren't going to turn and be in his way for any longer. Depending on the intersection, he might have been able to slide behind you on your right to make his turn (I realize that with a trailer behind you with your kids inside you would be very cautious about encouraging a motorist to do this).

    For what it's worth, what I've described about moving left is something I do every day while approaching an intersection where I go straight on my commute and many parents are turning right to take their kids to school. It was an every other day occurence until I started moving a little further left (1-2 feet from my former centered position) on my approach to the intersection. I can't think of the last time someone pulled around on my left to make right now.

  13. #13
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    Ride a few times with a couple of potatoe bags, and practice emergency manoeuvres. As far as safety is concerned, I am much more concerned about riding on trails with their narrow passages, "cyclists" who either zigzag slowly or pass very rapidly a few centimetres away from me, and inadequately designed intersections where I have to wait an impossible time until all traffic is clear long enough to start, jump the inadequately cut curb-cut, cross the other side and slow down to climb the other inadequate curb-cut.

    Compared to that, any arterial is safe, except maybe for some left turns. Do those in two steps.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

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