Hitting the trails on a bicycle is a popular pastime that allows families with young children to get exercise and fresh air. But those planning to bring young children along for the ride in a bicycle trailer or rear-mounted seat should be aware of potential injury risks.

Bicyclists with young passengers should stick to parks, bike paths and quiet streets to minimize collisions with automobiles.

Children can be towed in bicycle trailers or sit in seats mounted on the bicycle. Bicycle-towed trailers are preferred, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. An analysis of injuries to children found fewer reported injuries associated with the use of trailers than rear-mounted seats.

If using a bicycle-mounted seat, adults should carry only children 12 months or older and weighing less than 40 pounds. The bicycle seat should be attached securely over the rear wheel and have spoke guards to prevent feet and hand injuries. Seats should have a high back, sturdy shoulder harness and lap belt that will support a sleeping child.

Young passengers should wear a lightweight infant bike helmet to minimize or prevent head injury. Styrofoam helmets that meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission standards are available. Parents are encouraged to set a positive example by wearing bicycle helmets when bicycling as well.

The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute has tips for selecting bicycle helmets for all ages, as well as research, statistics, recalls and helmet use laws. For more information, visit