But things change a little when sharing with a cyclist pulling a trailer, much as sharing the highway with a U-Haul pulling Ford Escort changes highway behavior. This is an incomplete list of considerations motorists should embrace when they see someone hauling a child/dog/gear trailer:
- Someone with a trailer has a strange turning radius. Depending on the contents of the trailer, trailers often have odd balance. Left turns are actually much easier than a right turn. If I am right turning, I am unlikely to be hugging the turn lane, especially if I must stop before turning. The closer to the curb I bring my bike, the more likely I am to tip my trailer, which helps no one.
- Apply the three-foot rule to the widest part of the cyclist/equipment. Trailers, depending on variety, can range from 20″ – 40″ wide, which is wider than most pedal cranks (typically the widest part of the bike).
- Realize that potholes and giant dead squirrels in the lane are more likely to cause trauma to a bike with trailer.
- Realize that our ability to dodge and weave is going to be lower, for the same reason our turning radius is whack.
- I may ride further from the curb, based on the width of my trailer wheels. Getting one of those in a curb ridge is unpretty.
- Don’t lean out your window and yell GET A CAR at me. I have a car, thanks. My bike trailer does a far better job of getting my younger child to take a motion-induced nap.
- If you are a fellow cyclist, be especially careful about wheel overlap. It applies to my trailer as well as to my bicycle’s wheels. Use caution while passing. I am a slow moving wide load.
- If you are a fellow cyclist, stop making yuks at me about speed. I am towing 50+ pounds of child. My hamstrings feel this. Don’t be a doofus about it.
Obviously, motorists without consideration for cyclists aren’t going to be any kinder to a trailer. But those who show basic consideration don’t always realize the differences with a trailer. The turning radius thing is huge. Space to curb is also pretty significant.