USCA Sidecar Forum

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Sidecars and children .....?

Sidecars and children, does anyone know anything about the laws relating to taking young children out riding in a rig?

When I was a child my father drove a rig. My family always rode everywhere in it as it was our primary transportation and I remember those days fondly. From the time I was two years old I would sit on my mother's lap in the sidecar riding through the snow, bundled against the cold. We regularly went on road runs with my dad, we would ride up to Laconia every summer, and within NYC environs daily. In the whole state there were few motorcycles to be found on the road in those days and even fewer with sidecars. So few in fact, that even the NYC Police force for years would borrow my father's rig for all big major annual NYC parades. Despite the small numbers motorcyle sidecar police were traditional and they wanted to show a strong presence.

Now my husband and I want to continue the family riding tradition. We too have a sidecar. We also have a young child age 18 months. We have not taken her out with us yet. My husband is concerned that there may be a law on the books forbidding transporting a child this young in a sidecar.

I have been looking forward to taking her out with us. My husband however believes the laws might have changed since the 1960s regarding the transporting of young children in sidecars and believes there may be laws on the books that would prevent us from doing this. Can you tell me if this is so and what if any laws now apply? Can we legally and SAFELY take our daughter out riding with us and if not, then at what age? Do we need a special "car" seat or seat belt/halter for her and where would we get one? Any help you can give on this matter would be most appreciated.

We live in NYC but we ride all over the East Coast and through the South. I mention this as it is probable there may be significant differences as regards the different State laws.

I hope that perhaps someone can answer this directly, but if not then perhaps someone might be able to direct me to a source that can.

This is a good tradition.

I far as I can find, in NH there would be nothing to prevent you from having the your child in the sidecar. The closest thing I can find is that all riders under 18 years must wear a helmet. Now trying to find a helmet for such a small kid I would think is problematic.

I will be talking to our local police chief (a bike rider but alas, not a sidecarest) this next week to see if he knows of anything else on the topic and post another response.

I too live in NH and regularly take our 3 year old grandson out with us in our chair. Have CSC FSIII on our '95 Wing, which I specifically ordered with a pair of seatbelts installed, this being one of their options.
We put our grandson's carseat in left seat position closest to Wing and tie it down with seatbelt per seat manufacturer's instructions, same as in our car. He also wears a COOL, bright yellow Tweetybird bicycle safety helmet, as he likes to emulate us and it's a very GOOD practice to instill in a child! He seems to be in his own world when we're riding, loves it no end and it puts him to sleep after a while, even when he's very cranky. He's ridden with us about 8 times and we never have to talk him into going. Hope this helps a little. TTFN.....

Hi Mike,

I got this e-mail from Sarge and Sharon about the State of Washington.

...This subject came up earlier by a lady that was going to tour the US with an infant. I sent her the attached information and never heard from her in any way. This information applies to the State of Washington, this state says"motorized vehicle" I further called and they stated the motorized vehicle seat belts required and helmet law applies. You can post accordingly...

Sarge & Sharon also sent me the two state laws that seemed to apply. After reading them I sent them this...

Thanks for the info. Funny, the way I, a non-lawyer reads it, it seems to say that the seat belt part does not apply. ie
(c) "Passenger cars," meaning motor vehicles with motive power, except multipurpose passenger vehicles, motorcycles, or trailers, designed for carrying ten passengers or less; (from RCW 46.61.688 ) and the Anton Skeen act does not seem to change RCW 46.61.688 in regards to defining "Passenger cars"

It sounds to me like the person at the state department was just flying by the seat of their pants without really reading it. However I don't know about the helmet lay in that state.

But like everything else in this world, it depends on Mr. Officer on the side of the road...

I wonder how other states handle it?

Good Morning Bob (over here),
The State of Washington's Legislature just recognized the existence of the three wheeled vehicle this year and finally has a program covering them in so far as training and license endorsement to operate them is concerned.
Sidecar outfits themselves, however, are still in a gray area as to specific regulations regarding passengers. The only parameter that seems to apply is that the passenger (if human) must wear a helmet. Since the rig is classified as a motorcycle with an accessory (sidecar) attached, if it is a sidecar outfit, the rules of motorcycles apply. However the law states that "no one under 5 years of age can be a passenger on (read that ON) a motorcycle. A passenger in a sidecar is not "on" the motorcycle. No hazard of falling off exists and they are solidly esconsed in a separate unit which is attached to the cycle. This separates the sidecar outfit from other three wheeled vehicles. Trikes, or at least most trikes do not have a separate passenger compartment unless it is a two wheel in front and one trailing setup, or perhaps a VW conversion.
Many of our customers purchase a sidecar for no other reason than the fact they have children under five years old whom they want to take with them on motorcycle rides. Some use seat belts, some use child seats and all use helmets. I have heard of no one getting stopped or ticketed here for having children of any age in their sidecar.

Lonnie Cook
Northwest sidecar

Alabama and Tennessee require a helmet. Check the bicyle shops. Personally recommend professionally fitted seat belts and a child safety seat appropriate to the size. That will pad them, keep them from still, and if you do get stopped, show that you are taking 'reasonable care'.

In NJ other than the helmet law we've found nothing stopping it. Our daughter has been in the sidecar since she was 2. We've been all over the northeast and also at Daytona this year with no problems. A friend of mine is putting a carseat in his sidecar for their new baby.

contact your state atty generals office...they'll be the ones bringing you up on child endangerment charges if you get it wrong. every state that ive ever contacted the atty gen for has been very prompt and polite with a response
they make plenty of dot helmets for children...they come in both off road...and 3/4 face...
if you cant find them locally....Bob's cycle supply in St paul minnesota carries them...they have a website if you google for it.
My son just turned three...we ride with seat belts and a helmet...
one thing to be really concerned about....children like to touch things...and they will reach out to touch the spinning wheel/ spokes or other moving parts

This is a question which I yet to have answered here in Delaware. Another twist to it: What about the Hannigan rigs and others with a hard top, or does it make any difference? To be on the safe side (the law and safety), I have my kids ages 7, 12 and 14, wear helmets as well as their belts. It's also easier to communicate using the Wing's intercom system. I'll post it here if I find out anything definitive about the First State.