Sidecar restraint systems
by Kevin Mahoney, Classic Motorworks / Cycle Sidecar
You may notice that we sell seatbelts as an accessory for sidecars including the Cozy. Why aren’t they mandatory like they are in automobiles you might ask? Seat belts have always been sort of an afterthought for most sidecarists and sidecar manufacturers. Have they been proven effective in reducing the severity of injuries in accidents? I doubt it. I don’t think that there is much if any research in this area. However I am of the “more protection can’t hurt” crowd. I believe in helmets, good lighting, high visibility clothing etc, so my feeling is that in the case of a mishap, it’s better to stay with the unit than get catapulted to who knows where.
This is one reason to install seatbelts in your sidecar, but that is not the primary reason I wrote this article. When we talk to customers about how they intend to use their sidecars, two of the most often quoted uses are to give children rides and to carry a dog or other pet. I heartily approve of both uses, but they both require some thought. I think children should be belted into a sidecar to keep them where they belong.
When you are driving the rig, you have no control over the movements of a child. Younger children are especially prone to wiggling around and ending up in places that they shouldn’t be. Modern kids are used to wearing seatbelt and I think that keeping small kids in place is an appropriate reason to install seat belts.
One of the leading causes of accidental dog deaths is being thrown from a moving vehicle. How often do you see Rover thoroughly enjoying him or herself face fully into the wind in the back of a pick-up. Dogs love it, but it can be an especially dangerous and all too common practice. At the minimum a dog should have a leash that is attached to the truck. However I once saw a dog on a leash get bounced out of the back of a pick-up and strangle on the leash. (It had a good ending as the owner was able to stop right away and Rover was none the worse for wear). So a leash of the appropriate length is also important. Back to my original point, I believe that dogs and sidecars are made for each other, but I prefer to see a dog that is wearing some sort of restraint in the sidecar. It can be as simple as a leash tied to a closed seatbelt or as fancy as a full-blown doggy restraint system.