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cycling with children

March 13, 2011

{screen shot taken from the 50th issue of Momentum}

Knowing that we’ll be adding a new little member to our family, I’ve become increasingly obsessed with gathering information on cycling with children and making bike rides a family activity. So I was thrilled to see that the latest issue of Momentum Magazine had a whole feature on “Family Style”, including tips on how to ride with infants, how to dress kids for all-weather cycling, and even how to throw a bike-themed birthday party. How fun!

I’d love to hear from you – those of you who already have kids and are making bike rides a family activity. What are you using to transport your kids around? What’s been a challenge in riding with kids? How has cycling fit into your family life? There are so many great examples put forth by bloggers who have kids and still make riding a regular activity that I feel really inspired to emulate that once our little one is here.

I’d love to hear your tips already and I’m thinking of putting together a larger series of guest posts on cycling as a family. I already have a list of contributors in mind and I’m really excited about getting this collection of posts started. But for now it will have to wait a little until I wrap up this semester and the three courses I’m teaching and turn in this current dissertation chapter I’m working on. As soon as those things move off my desk in May, I’m delving into the world of family cycling. Looking forward to sharing those posts with you soon! ~ S.

PS: For those of you who guessed “girl”, you’re right! :) A little girl it is!

20 Comments leave one →
  1. Gervase permalink
    March 13, 2011 21:33

    I see this topic covered a lot on biking sites, but the conclusions aren’t too rosy for most North Americans. Seems like the tendency for young couples to move to more suburban situations, makes the kids and cycling mixture difficult.

    This is odd, since you can see lots of mothers, bikes and kids in Europe, particularly northern Europe.

    Some of this has to do with where people live. If you are situated in a denser neighborhood, close to grocery and other needs, the trip to the store on bicycle is something that you can do with your children. If you have to schepp groceries several miles in heavy traffic, it probably isn’t going to work.

    My thought: if you want to mix bicycles and kids, live near downtown close to stores.

  2. Melissa @ HerGreenLife permalink
    March 14, 2011 11:31

    Thanks so much for looking into this! I’ve definitely noticed the lack of information for cycling with young infants, and read some of the “not until 9-12 months” stuff, which seems to be prevalent, though it makes little sense. I was beginning to resign myself to several months without biking, but perhaps there is hope :)

  3. Charlotte permalink
    March 14, 2011 11:56

    It seems to vary by state, at least as far as laws are concerned. Here in MA we’re not allowed to bicycle on a two wheeled bike with an infant, the child must be 1 year before riding in a seat. Trailers are allowed, and many people put 3 month babies in car seats in a trailer.

    Gervase, the downside of living right downtown in a dense neighborhood is that I have no room to store such a trailer. Of course we will just walk, but that won’t mix bicycles and kids.

    The best website I’ve found for advise is Totcycle.

    • March 15, 2011 08:59

      Thanks for the site tip, Charlotte! I’m going to check that out! I don’t kow what the laws are like in my state, I haven’t looked into it yet, and since this is our first and we’re likely going to be more nervous parents the first time around, I don’t think we’ll be cycling with an infant. But once she’s a little bigger and can ride in a trailer, I’ll be excited to take her along for bike rides.

      I also want to get a running stroller and take her on runs with me, but I know that with that too, they have to be of a certain age/weight for it to be safe. So some of these actvities will definitely have to wait a bit after she’s born.

      S.

      • Charlotte permalink
        March 15, 2011 15:36

        We just bought a second-hand Bob Ironman jogging stroller and have been really impressed so far. It’s living in our storage locker because, like a bike trailer, there’s no room for it at the apartment, but the bicycle parts used will be easy for us to service and having the “right” tool for the job (in this case a purpose-designed jogging stroller) always makes such a difference.
        6 weeks minimum age ’till walking in it, and longer ’till jogging, but it’s clearly going to be a useful tool for getting back out there.

      • March 15, 2011 16:16

        Thanks for the tip, Charlotte. We also thought we’d look for a good used jogging stroller and we’re investigating what names/makers to look for. I’ll add yours to our list!

  4. March 15, 2011 01:42

    When you like to ride and want to join one group , you should know some rules in group riding.

    It is very important that if you ride in a group, that you understand that you have a responsibility to ride safely! Please do not come to a group ride if you are not going to follow these simple rules. We all want to have fun with cycling, we don’t want to crash or risk injury because of aggressive bicycle riders who don’t follow the rules.
    How to ride safely in a group ride:
    ———————————————
    –When the shoulder is wide enough, two riders can ride side by side comfortably as long as you stay inside the bike lane/shoulder white line.
    –When the shoulder is too narrow, you ride single file.
    –Don’t overlap the wheel of the rider in front of you, that is dangerous and can cause a collision if the rider in front makes a sudden move to the side you are overlapping from.
    –Don’t ride too close to the rear wheel of the rider in front of you (unless you are absolutely certain that you can handle your bike in a sudden stop.)
    –If you are a slower rider, stay to the right and let others pass you on the left.
    –If you plan on passing a rider in front of you, make sure you look behind first to avoid interfering with a another rider, car or other traffic…then, state that you are passing ‘on your left’ to the rider you are passing. (It’s normally safer to pass on the left and not on the right side of the rider.) If you don’t say anything when passing, it is possible to collide if that rider moves slightly to their left without knowing you are coming from behind them.
    –Never come from behind and ram your way through two side by side riders ‘up the middle’ ; that is completely dangerous and you are only looking for problems.
    –Point out obstacles in the road by pointing to them with your hand. You don’t have to shout out every obstacle. A good rider is watching and is alert and will see your hand signal.
    –Use hand signals when riding so everyone on the road knows what you plan on doing. i.e. Left turn, right turn, stopping.
    –Warn the riders behind you that you are stopping by putting your hand behind you with your palm facing outward toward the rider. This means you are stopping.
    –When riding two riders side by side…when you approach a turn, stay within your lane. This means do not cut the person off who is riding next to you. (Visualize a runners track with lanes…the lanes never cross, they are side by side.)

  5. March 15, 2011 01:45

    http:www.teamscycling.com

  6. Tracy permalink
    March 15, 2011 07:13

    Aw, a girl! She is going to have the cutest clothes! Congratulations!

  7. Emba permalink
    March 15, 2011 23:21

    Yay i got it right. She’s sure to be gorgeous like her Momma! Congrats

  8. Rtell permalink
    March 16, 2011 22:14

    With regards to contraptions, I have used a Burley trailer and a Burley Piccollo, depending on the age of the child, with great satisfaction on ease of use, wear-and-tear, and child fun.

  9. Rika permalink
    March 19, 2011 14:17

    I read your blog regularly. Love it. I have 2 girls ages 4 and 3. We bike alot. We LOVE the chariot. It is pricey but worth it. It comes with a hammock for infants. Also our 4 year old went from trike to balance bike. She didn’t need training wheels b/c the balance bike prepared her so well. We also have a tag along attached to my cruiser. So fun!!

    Cheers from Utah

    • March 19, 2011 20:26

      Thanks, Rika! I’m going to be looking into all of these options soon!

  10. March 22, 2011 09:55

    We use a kidcar. Our model can be used as a biketrailer as well as a stroller. You can see our car in action here: http://hengseltjes-pukje.blogspot.com/2009/04/oefenen-op-de-fiets.html . This brand has special seats for babies. We used it a lot when mini was a baby. Both as a bike trailer and a stroller. Now we tend to take him in a bike seat ( http://hengseltjes-pukje.blogspot.com/2009/09/op-de-fiets.html) and use the kidcar for longer distances. It is pretty normal in the Netherlands to transport your kid in a bike seat on a normal two wheeled bike. The general guideline is that kids should be able to sit steady for a longer period.

  11. Ceri permalink
    March 22, 2011 23:51

    We used a WeeRide Kangaroo Child Bike Seat which mounts between the seat and the handlebars since our little one was somewhat of an escape artist and we wanted him where we could see him. I think he had to be old enough to hold up his own head, and we didn’t go offroad. Now he uses a tag-along like trailer.

  12. Patty permalink
    March 27, 2011 10:35

    S –

    Good for you!! It can feel lonely in the world as a bike commuter and even more so when you tell people you want to bike with an infant!

    My boyfriend and I met at the annual fundraiser for the Active Transportation Alliance, Chicago’s cycling advocacy organization, where he now works. We are committed to being car-free, so we’re determined to find an infant friendly biking option. Brian is a great writer and has a blog http://thecarwhisperer.blogspot.com – maybe he can write a guest post for you once we do our research. We’re going to take a day and test drive all of the Dutch bike options at the bike shops here in Chicago. We’ll probably end up going with a box bike and installing a car seat base into the box. I wouldn’t put a baby in a bike tailer – in traffic it’s scary to not be able to see the trailer infront of you, they sometimes flip over (like our dog trailer has), and they are too low to the ground for cars to see easily. These bikes are all expensive, so we’ve made it part of our baby registry: http://www.thepoint.com/campaigns/campaign-0-2024

    Good luck! Can’t wait to read about your biking with baby adventures!

    Patty

  13. Andrea permalink
    May 18, 2011 20:30

    One thing I wish we had done differently: My parents have a Burley which is collapsable. Genuis! Allowed us to fold it up, take off the wheels and throw it in the trunk for a trip up to the rails-to-trails path (the little man LOVED the tunnels! Elroy-Sparta in North/Central Wisconsin, if you are ever looking for a bike-focused road trip.)
    Anyway, my Burley, which was free, doesn’t fold, so it’s hard to store, and definitely won’t fit in our sedan.

    So if you can, I suggest getting one that can fold, makes it a lot easier to pack stuff up and go somewhere. I also can see the value in getting one that has an additional wheel that lets it transition to a stroller, though we liked parking the bikes and letting everyone stretch their legs, rather than try to push a bulky trailer through the markets, etc.

    As for suburban vs downtown, we are lucky to live in a suburb, but just one block from a wonderful bike trail which not only takes us on nice scenic rides, but also takes us to a grocery store and Target in just under 3 miles!

    All this is making me antsy to get back on the bike and go shopping! Tee hee

  14. anna permalink
    May 30, 2011 08:51

    I’ve been looking into this too. With our first daughter, we waited until she was 12 months & then put her in a Hamax bike seat on the back of our bikes. That’s been fine, but once number 2 is here I won’t be able to cycle with both of them. I also am keen to cycle with them both before 12 months is up – we are moving to an area where biking is going to be more vital transport for me as a SAHM – so have been looking into bakfiets type things. Think we are going to end up with a less cool but more practical for us trailer…

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  1. cycling with children « Simply Bike | Cycling News and Events
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