Saturday, November 17, 2007

Riding With Children

Who rides to get around with their small children, and how do you carry them? Our son is nearly eleven months old, and I haven't yet found a good way to carry him around. I think I have a solution, but I haven't yet been able to afford to put it together.

I tried a Burley trailer and pretty much hated it. Silas tolerated it. I didn't like being so far away from him and placing him in a pod-like structure all alone. I didn't like attaching and detaching the trailer. I thought about having a dedicated child trailer bike, but I realized that once the trailer is on the bike things like parking the bike, getting on the commuter train, etc. are problematic.

The trailer doesn't work for me. We have all kinds of little errands to run in our neighborhood. Most of our destinations are within a ten or fifteen minute walk, and I'll usually choose to walk rather than hitch up the trailer.

My wife and I use various baby-wearing contraptions, and I've found that wrapping him on my back or putting him in a Mei-Tei works well for short trips. I pop a helmet on him and we're off. Since he's on my back and I'm leaning forward a little on the bike this is surprisingly comfortable for both of us. He can see over my shoulder and has a good time. I believe this method is not unusual in Amsterdam or Copenhagen, but here I'm afraid I'll get CPS called on me for endangering my child. I can handle CPS, but my wife has put the keibash on said arrangement, so it isn't an option.

I am going to get an Xtracycle soon and get the child seat they sell with it. I haven't tried this myself, but I've heard good reviews from people I trust. The seat they sell isn't made by them, it's just a nice rear child seat, but a little more sturdy than most (rated for up to 50 lbs.) On most bikes, these seats make the handling very dodgy, because the child's weight is over the rear wheel. But of course the Xtracycle moves the rear wheel back 15 inches, so child's weight is in the center of the wheelbase, making the handling much improved.

I am excited to try this out, and I've come up with a Frankenbike arrangement to make the bike work for both me and my wife (6' and 5'5") which involves two handlebars and a whole lotta ugly.

If you have children and you don't want to drive, there don't seem to be many good options. If anyone knows of anything out there that fits the bill, please post it in the comments section.


Mike and Nancy said...

I've been thinking a lot about a way to bike with my daughter once she was born. I found the Weeride center mounted child carrier and bought one. I haven't used it with my daughter since she can't sit up by herself yet so I think I'm still about 1-2 months away from using it. I did install it on my bike to make sure it fits and it is sturdy. I think she will like it. I've read that long legged riders hit the child seat when pedaling. Since I'm 5'6" my top tube distance is short so I don't have room to straddle the bike at a stop. I have to tippy toe it at stops.

I like the idea of having my daughter in front where I can see her and have her be more interactive. In other countries, most kids ride in some homemade seat where the child holds onto the front bars. The look on their face is pure joy.


bullschuck said...

Hey Anthony, I have the same issue, but with six kids, it's to a different degree. Plus my wife ain't a cyclist, yet. If you come across something that seats eight let me know!

Yer ever-lovin', child-creatin', overly tall, fat, and happy buddy,


PS Good luck in NC. I'm pulling for you.

cyclotourist said...

I luvz da' Burley trailers! It works great for pulling two kids and/or getting groceries. Yeah, I can't take it in a bus, but not sure an xtracycle would either. Plus it keeps me from having a dedicated "kid seat" sort of a thing on my bike.

Anyway, check this out:
Now that's stylin'