Trailer cycles and tandems
Trailer bikes and tandems are flexible alternatives for the period when your child is too old for a child seat or child trailer but too young to ride on their own, or for when you wish to ride longer distances than your child will be able cope with on their own bike.
They allow the child some independence as they will be pedalling with you, but can be used before a child has gained the experience and confidence to cycle on their own bike.
Tandems are great for family cycling, and a standard tandem can be adapted for use by a child by fitting "kiddiebars" to extend the handlebars, a small saddle and adding some "Kiddie cranks" or the simpler "crank adaptors". "Kiddie cranks" are a small set of cranks and pedals which fit onto the tandems rear seat tube and are linked by a chain to a freewheel sprocket at the bottom bracket which allows the child to pedal. "Crank adaptors" simply fit onto existing cranks to shorten the length needed to reach to pedal.
A good bike shop should stock these and be able to help you fit them. You can also buy tandems which are specially sized to fit children. By adding a child trailer to your tandem you will be able to carry all ages for family excursions, or on the school run.
Tag-along bikes are excellent inventions that allow you to combine your own bike with an attachment for your child. Being detachable they are perfect for train travel in the UK where tandems can be difficult for train companies to accommodate.
As with child trailers you will need to be aware that your bike is longer than normal and will manoeuvre differently. Having a flag at the end of the bike will alert others that your cycle is longer than normal. Indeed anything that will increase your visibility is a good thing.