Wednesday, 5 May 2010
How to transport your pet on a bicycle
Bicycles provide a wonderful and freeing mode of transportation. The bicycle was first invented in Europe in the nineteenth century. Today it is the world’s most popular vehicle. Bicycles allowed for easy travel — they are 3 times more energy efficient than walking, and 3-4 times as fast as walking. Bicycles and horse buggies were the two biggest modes of private transportation just before the automobile was invented. Bicycles are pragmatic, functional, and efficient. They are a big component of a healthy urban transportation system. The bicycle is a simple and elegant machine, attracting kids of all ages and adults. Bicycling offers many health benefits, and it does not directly contribute to global warming or environmental pollution. It is a wonderful, freeing sport that brings health and joy to millions of people everywhere.
Have you wanted to travel with your dog but find the whole thing too overwhelming? There are several ways of enjoying your bike and your pet at the same time — some are more safe than others.
With large dogs, you could do a fast version of walking the dog — you on your bicycle and your dog on a leash. Yes, this method gives both you and your dog exercise, but at what risk? You’ve increased the width that automobile drivers need to avoid, which may be fine on low speed, less travelled roads. But this is not advised on busier streets. Also your safety is now in your hands as well as the paws of your dog. Are you prepared for your dog quickly veering off track after a stray cat? What about your dog’s safety? Be careful not to run your pet too long on a hard surface. This can not only cause joint problems, but also bleeding of the paws. There is a lot at stake and a lot of uncertainties when you bike-jog with your pet.
You could allow your dog to run ahead of your bicycle without a leash. Your safety is no longer in the paws of your pet, but not only are there safety issues with regard to your pet, but also there are leash laws in many parts of this country. No matter how well trained your dog is, there are so many things that could go wrong if you let your dog run unleashed.
For small to medium dogs try a pet bicycle trailer — a much safer method of bicycling with your pet. Actually, some pet bicycle trailers can accommodate larger pets up to 115 pounds. With one of these attached to your bicycle, you can maintain your active lifestyle and get your pet outside, too. When you go to the park to give your pet a little fun and exercise, why not take him there in a bicycle trailer — you get some exercise on the trip there and back, without tiring your dog out along the way. You can put any small to medium pet in a pet bicycle trailer. It might take some getting used to though, and it might take some training for your pet to be sure he doesn’t go nuts while you’re trying to bike. Two high quality bicycle trailers are the Trek’R and the Burley Tail Wagon.
There are precautions when using a pet bicycle trailer. When riding, your pet should always be secured with the safety leash adjusted to the correct length. Do not exceed the weight capacity of your pet bicycle trailer. Check the inflation of your bicycle and trailer tires before every ride. Check the connection of the trailer to your bicycle before your bicycle ride. Riding with the pet bicycle trailer increases your braking distance and may affect your ability to control your bicycle. Practice in a safe area before riding with the trailer in high-traffic areas. Always wear a safety helmet when riding.
Another way to enjoy your bike rides and your small pets is a pet carrier that fits on your bicycle’s handle bars — only recommended for small pets up to maybe 15 pounds; your specific pet bicycle carrier will specify the exact weight limit. With a pet bicycle carrier you can have your small pet share in the fun of your bike ride. You can bike ride with your pet in front of you with a bicycle pet carrier. You are closer to your pet and can better enjoy his company. Two high quality pet bicycle carriers are the Pet Cruiser Sport Carrier and the Pet Cruiser Wicker Cruiser.
There are precautions when using handlebar mounted pet carriers. Never leave your pet unattended or alone in the basket. Never leave your animal confined or unattended in direct sunlight or anytime there is a risk of overheating. Be sure to secure your pet with the harness. Do NOT speed while riding with your pet. You must wear an approved bicycle helmet. Do not ride when it the roads are wet. Do not ride in the dark. Check everything over before riding. Do not exceed weight capacity limit specified by your bicycle carrier. Do not install safety straps in any way that might interfere with brake cables, brake levers, or gear control shifters of your bicycle.
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