There are lots of people who have bought motorcycles to get around the city. It helps them cut down on travel time because they can avoid the traffic jams and parking problems of going by car. But a problem arises when we also want to use these two-wheelers for family transportation. Can children go on a motorcycle as a passenger? Starting at what age? And just how? Is the law the same all over Europe?
We’ll begin by answering this last question: no, there isn’t any single European norm that regulates how children should travel on a motorbike. But there are a number of points in common in every European Union country. Let’s review them:
Here, only children over the age of 12 can travel as passengers on mopeds or motorcycles. Exceptionally, however, they can do so as young as 7 if the driver is their father, mother or some authorized adult. And if they do travel at age 7, it is recommended that they not get on a highway.
All minors should use a certified helmet, one that is appropriate for their size and has a chin strap that is correctly adjusted. They should sit behind the driver, with their feet supported by the lateral footrests.
In addition to the helmet, these child passengers should be adequately equipped: a protective motorcycle jacket, gloves, pants and boots. If they don’t have these items, and as long as they are in urban settings, it is recommended that they wear long pants, high shoes, motorcycle gloves and other inexpensive protective padding that can be easily adapted, in addition to kneepads.
It is recommended that they not be wearing a backpack because it could destabilize them. Instead, the backpack should be attached to the motorcycle’s luggage carrier.
If there are frequent trips with child passengers, it is also advised that a back support be installed so as to improve safety and restraint. In addition, children should be able to hang on to the driver without affecting his driving. And a warning: the side grips that many motorcycles now have can be unsafe for children.
As for driving, acceleration should be smooth and gradual, especially when starting up, so as not to run any unnecessary risks. And when children are getting on or off the motorcycle, they should not do so on the side where the exhaust pipe is, but from the sidewalk and on the safer side of the vehicle, which is usually its right side.
In France there is no minimum age for carrying children on a motorcycle, but they are obliged to wear a well attached, approved helmet.
In addition, children under 5 should also use an officially approved seat with handles and footrests. If they are over that age, they must be able to reach the footrests, and it is obligatory that they wear CE-certified gloves, like the driver.
Our Portuguese neighbors are demanding. The only requirement from FEMA (Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations) is that the minimum age for a minor traveling on this kind of vehicle is 7.
By contrast, in Belgium children younger than 3 are not allowed to travel on a motorbike, and those between 3 and 8 can only do so in a machine of at least 125cc and while occupying a special seat.
In addition, both child and driver must wear full equipment: a helmet of the correct size, gloves, a long-sleeved jacket, a motorcyclist’s pants or full suit and boots that protect the ankles.
There is no minimum age for taking children on a motorbike in Germany. The only requirement is that children under 7 use a special seat and wear a helmet, although it does not have to be certified.
Children younger than 5 cannot travel on a motorcycle. If they are less than 1.35 meters tall, they must use an officially approved children’s seat, and wear an authorized helmet, regardless of their age.
In Italy kids must also be over 5 to ride as a motorcycle passenger. Likewise, it is obligatory to wear an authorized helmet. The regulations stipulate that the child cannot interfere with the driver or alter the machine’s equilibrium.
The rules in this country do not mention any age requirements, but they do specify that a motorbike with a child younger than 7 on board must not exceed 40 km/h.
If you want to know the norms for young passengers that apply in every European country, check this link for a summary chart.