Friday, August 10, 2012

Biking With Kids

A few people have expressed interest in the idea of bike commuting, but have related some concerns about how they can bring their kids along for the ride. Well, I have to admit that I'm rather lucky in this regard, as Malcolm (age 9) LOVES to ride his bike! We invested in a good bike for him back in February, and even fortunately had an extra lock and set of pannier bags for him to use. So, he feels like an official "biker" and enjoys coming along with us on our rides. In fact, he did a 14 mile ride with Don on Wednesday! So, I'm afraid I don't have much to offer by way of personal experience on the "what to do with your kids" front. However, there are plenty of people who do! So, I thought I'd share a few links to help out those of you with kiddos.

When you have really little ones, a front-mounted seat can be a good way to go - I imagine a parent feels more secure having the little tot basically in his/her arms. Over at, a parent reviewed one of these seats. (complete with pictures!) As they get older, a trailer is a great way to go; I've seen many parents with these. InSTEP appears to be a popular brand for these, but other alternatives do exist. Again, at, a mother details how she came to love bike commuting after converting a jogging stroller into a trailer.

Now, even though Malcolm loves biking, we do have an alternative in case he is sick, tired, or just not feeling like riding. Several months ago Don ordered a bakfiets, a dutch cargo bike. The nice thing about the bike is that it is designed to not only carry cargo such as groceries, supplies, etc., but it is also designed to carry your most precious cargo.  (That's your kids. Thought I should clarify just in case.)

Don with his precious cargo. And Malcolm.
We even got a rain cover for ours so Malcolm (and other cargo) would be protected during inclement weather.  In the photo above, Don is taking him to school in the middle of February. IN TOLEDO. Malcolm used a Snuggie (don't judge; it was free!) to keep him warm.

Little did he know, a backwards robe would have had the same exact effect.

So, a nice solution, even for the brutal cold of Northwest Ohio. Malcolm does, on occasion, still ride in the bakfiet, but we now primarily use it for the transport of cargo. Don used it to help take supplies over to my office, and to go grocery shopping. Sometimes we even take the dog along in it, and it became a popular thing among our friends to ask for a ride in the bakfiets! It's a very helpful thing to have - sort of the "SUV" of the bike world.

So, there you have it: a few solutions for biking with kids. Even though I don't have much experience to share with little kids, I will be happy to share Malcolm's experiences with biking as we go along.  He plans on biking to school daily, so we'll be sure to write about the first day of school next week!
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  1. So Tana -- what are your thoughts on wearing a bike helmet? I can't tell from your photos if you wear one or if Malcolm does-some photos show Don not wearing a helmet. Helmets have been shown to reduce risk of death and serious head motorcycle helmets. My son is 14 and I make him wear one -- there are about 1/2 of his friends who do and the other half do not. My friend has worked in the ER of hospitals and sees so many kids with head injuries. Just wondering what your philosophy on this is. This blog is interesting...thanks for sharing.

  2. I'm still debating the helmet thing. For Malcolm, it's an easy call - it is required by law where we live for children under the age of 14. As for helmets for adults...I'm still researching and deciding. There are many articles that show that helmets can often have the opposite effect of what they intend - they make cars feel "safer" about hitting a cyclist, so they cause MORE accidents. I've also read that a very small percentage of bicycling accidents involve the head getting hit. So...jury is still out, as far as I am concerned.