by Emilie Parrish
Source: Island Parent Magazine
Originally Published: August 2014
There’s joy in flying down a hill with my heart still pumping from the climb. My children squealing with delight, begging me to go over the potholes so they can bump up and down. But the thrill of the rollercoaster ride is over much too soon as we pull up to a stop light inconveniently placed at the bottom of the hill.
“Nice bike!” calls a leather-clad motorcyclist who is stopped beside us. “You guys are lucky to have a ride like that.” My children respond with a nod and a smile. By now they are used to the attention we get from riding in our box bike; it’s just part of our daily commute.
I will admit that it wasn’t always so easy. At first I was daunted by the idea of cycling, and the two big barriers: bad weather and traffic. While I can’t recommend cycling in snow or heavy rainfall, I have found that light rain is not really an issue. Though high-tech clothes are available, I usually wear my wool coat and a pair of rain boots.
Learning to be comfortable in traffic is more difficult. It’s best to start by sticking to the side streets and bike paths. Google Maps has a great bike route function for some areas. When you’re ready to try out busier roads, approach them with the following mentality: you are traffic. Legally you need to follow all the normal rules of the road: stop at four way intersections, signal when turning, and use lights at night. Don’t be afraid to take up the whole lane if there isn’t enough room on the shoulder. Cyclists are safest if they act in a predictable manner, so don’t bob in and out of cars. I have also found that the majority of drivers are extra cautious when approaching a bicycle with children on board.
There are more reasons to take up cycling than just reducing your carbon foot print. We all could use more exercise, fresh air and sunshine. There is also a sense of community as you invariably start to recognize people along your route. And cycling provides an opportunity to slow down, get away from your cellphone and focus on your ride.
There are many options available for biking with children:
This is basically a bike with a wheelbarrow in front. It can be used with both older and younger kids. It is great for carrying lots of kids, doing massive grocery shops, and hauling large items. You can buy a raincover to protect your kids from rain and wind, it is stable to ride, and cars tend to give them extra room. However, it is the most expensive option. Also, unless you have an electric assist to help you power the bike, it is heavy to push up hills and to cycle for long distances.
This is a great all-purpose option. It is the best option for long rides with young children. It offers protection from sun, wind and rain. Children can easily nap in a trailer, and it can carry extra stuff. Also, most trailers convert into a stroller. The only real drawbacks are that you can’t easily talk to or see your child when they’re in a trailer, and children don’t have much of a view from a trailer.
Front bike seat
A front seat is great for small children as you can easily keep an eye on them, and children love the view. However, it’s not for everyone. You need to have the right set up because it can be hard to reach around a front seat and avoid hitting it with your knees. It also might make your bicycle less stable.
Rear bike seat
A rear seat is a fun way to bike around town. However, it can be hard to put your kid into it without help.
This is a bike with an extended back end. It is like a rear bike seat, except that it can carry multiple children and lots of extra stuff.
This is a one-wheeled bike with a bar that attaches it to the seat-post of an adult bike. It’s meant for older children who are too large for a bike seat or trailer, but are not old enough to cycle on their own. It is a great way for children to learn how to cycle in traffic, and it has a free-wheel so your child can take breaks as needed.
Child’s bike tow bar
This is a bar that attaches a child’s bike to an adult bike turning it into a trailer bike. It is easily detachable so that your child can switch between cycling on their own and getting pulled along. However, many children’s bikes are fixed gear so they can’t take a break from pedaling without breaking.
Emillie Parrish loves having adventures with her two busy children. She lives in Victoria and is the author of the food based blog web link
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