I had to read this article several times to understand exactly what was going on and what was confusing me. Namely a piece in the Belgian newspaper “Nieuwsblad” (means… “Newspaper) proclaims the bakfiets as the safest type of bike for carrying kids, safer thus than bike trailers or child seats on conventional bikes. Now that’s no great surprise for me and not a finding I have any reason to argue. I carry my own two precious ones in a bakfiets and further earn my salary making and selling them. Workcycles has thousands of bakfietsen on the roads and thus far, knock wood, we’re not aware of any notable injuries. Then again we’ve also sold thousands of conventional type bikes, many of them equipped to carry kids and ridden daily, and I’m not aware of any notable injuries there either. So that’s not a terribly conclusive comparison; It just suggests that carrying kids on bikes is a very safe thing to do.
The Nieuwsblad article refers to a recent test by the German Automobile Club (ADAC). So I searched the ADAC site (geez it’s handy to be able to understand a few languages!) as source but nowhere could I find any mention of a bakfiets, never mind a test comparing the safety of kids carried by bakfiets with anything. I did however find an ADAC test comparing child carrier trailers with child seats on conventional bikes. In this study ADAC compared one top-tested trailer (Burley Cub) against one top-tested rear child seat (Römer, model not specified). Nieuwsblad reported that they simply rammed each rig into a stationary object at 25km/hr but on the ADAC site they show each rig being rammed from the side by a VW Golf and report that the head-on collision was also tested. That covers a broader range of high-danger crash scenarios than Nieuwsblad 25km/hr head-on bike T-bone. Not surprisingly, the trailer tended to remain on two wheels while the much higher mounted child seat on regular bike was consistently knocked over.
Just for background info our German neighbors LOVE testing products and they relish putting a big “Zeer Gut” or “Gut” in red letters on advertisements and products. They’re also renowned for their rigorous testing methods. The bike tests run by German cycling magazines absolutely put to shame the fluff published by the US bikey press. The Dutch bike rags fall somewhere in between but they still bore me to death.
But how then did Nieuwsblad conclude from a test comparing trailer and rear child seat that a bakfiets is the safest?Good question! Well it seems that Roel De Cleen of the Belgian Fietsersbond (Cyclists’ Union) just made that part up. I don’t mean to imply that it’s an unreasonable conclusion. It is actually a very logical extrapolation… but it’s just not supported by the data cited in the article. Moral of the story: Be critical when reading test results, especially when not reading the original source.
Happy New Year everybody!
I hope I’ll have more time to write in 2012 since 2011 was rather sparse.