First cross-town bike ride, 4 years old

First ride to church, 4 years old

Last Sunday my daughter rode her own bike across town to church for the first time. She recently turned four, and made the 3 mile trip on her bike with 12 inch wheels. It was her idea to try that day, and she was indeed ready.

With plenty of practice already with shorter trips and riding on trails, we made the trip together on the city sidewalks, stopping at all the alleys and streets to check for traffic, and wait for dad’s signal to go.

She handled the trip well in terms of behavior and skills. We averaged about a 4 miles per hour on the sidewalk, so the trip took 45 minutes– about twenty minutes “extra” for the experience.

Sections of the sidewalk were frustrating for me with the frequent stopping, but other times there would be a long block without driveways crossing to check out. In those moments, it was like a little stretch of private bike trail through the city. (I don’t recall passing any pedestrians at all on the trip…).

While this trip went well, our ride the day before had an unfortunate ending. I’ll write more about that tomorrow. (See one more ride photo after the jump)

Continue reading First cross-town bike ride, 4 years old

An evening of biking with the children

biking home at Sunset

I’m blessed that both my young children enjoy bicycling. My four year old daughter now rides her own bike on 3 to 4 mile trips on sidewalks and trails. The 10-month old simply enjoys the experience… and the naps.

My daughter’s behavior is mysteriously good on her bike outings. Just as video games can foster addiction by providing a series of small successes, I think sidewalk-biking is also working to build confidence and self-esteem. At each block or alley, she successfully stops, checks traffic, and waits for the signal to go- she’s “cleared a level”. There’s also encouragement for good hill climbing and careful braking when going down hill.

On this day, we found ourselves returning home at dusk with a large red sun on the horizon. and captured the photos above and below.

Continue reading An evening of biking with the children

Solving the casserole-by-bike problem

I had this large dish of fresh pasta to deliver to a friend. How to carry it to a bike? It’s not a good match for a bungee treatment. The plastic lid would collapse and the aluminum pan would get distorted. It needs to stay flat so it’s not spilled. Yuba’s Bread Basket works great for this kind of load.

I had first tried a regular milk crate on a different bike, but the milk crate was too small. Other solutions to the casserole-by-bike problem could have included using an oversided milk crate as seen here:

Continue reading Solving the casserole-by-bike problem

First week with a Bobike Mini: two kids on a longtail cargo bike

Everything is normal.

Our son is now old enough to sit up on a bike. With our first child,
we had one bike that was able to carry children, a bakfiets. Now we
have a choice between a Big Dummy, and Yuba Mundo as well as the
bakfiets
.

Considering that the older child now weighs 40 pounds, I was
particularly interested to try out riding two children on the electric
Yuba Mundo. The assist increases the range and reduces the effort.

My wife reports that the new setup is notably easier. She has taken the
bakfiets before with both kids– to drop off the 4-year old at day care.
On the electric Yuba Mundo, she reported that the same trip was
definitely easier, and took about the same amount time as a car.

Our challenge to address with the BoBike Mini will be napping. On the
bakfiets, we used Sleep Dog to rest a napping head on.

We are considering buying a headrest for the BoBike Mini. However, as
the Rideabye Baby post on
Totcycle points out, the little sleeper can still miss the headrest by
nodding off to the side.

Are there other solutions we should be considering?

One compatibility note: the foot rests of the BoBike Mini bumped into our Bread Basket accessory, so we had to choose one or the other. It has not turned out to be such a big deal to switch between them. The BoBike has a quick release that leaves only a small collar on the bike. When I wanted to deliver a big pan of fresh pasta to a friend, it took just a few minutes to remove the BoBike seat, and tighten the four bolts that hold the Bread Basket on.

Some more photos from the week follow.

Continue reading First week with a Bobike Mini: two kids on a longtail cargo bike

Carrying a stroller on a cargo bike

There are a few options carrying a stroller on a cargo bike. The
simplest options is do without. Perhaps a sling will do. If the stroller
is to be used primarily on lightly used sidewalks, a bicycle with a
child on it could be pushed along instead.

Sometimes my wife would go shopping at the Farmer’s Market in this
manner, pushing a bakfiets through the market with the child on it:

rainy day farmer's market trip

I hope for the day when our local market is too crowded for that to be feasible.

Before I get to the solutions that do work, I’ll share one attempt at putting a stroller on a bakfiets that didn’t work:

Continue reading Carrying a stroller on a cargo bike

Video: Bakfiets winter ride with baby

This nicely produced video by Teppo Moisio in Finland highlights a bakfiets being used to carry baby warmly and safely on a winter day:

If you can’t get enough the bakfiets baby cuteness, there’s another video after the jump showing off the weather canopy also keeps children dry on rainy day rides.

Continue reading Video: Bakfiets winter ride with baby

Choosing to ride a bike in the winter

.

The morning my four year old daughter had a choice to ride on a bike for 3 miles in the cold and snow, or ride in the car. She chose the bike, and we had a comfortable ride over to church. When we arrived I asked if anything was cold. She said her ankles were a little cold– she was wearing anklets instead of full-height socks, and some cold air got on them. That would be easily solved with proper socks in the future.

I have some hope that if children can get beyond the excuse that “it’s too cold to ride”, then perhaps some adults can get over it as well. Biking for transportation in the winter can be great way to fit in some exercise, when it’s otherwise not as enticing to be outside.

For another great post on the topic of kids and choosing to ride in the winter, see this post entitled “There’s No Such Thing….as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing” by Sara at Full Hands.

Hauling couches by bike

Couches are fun to haul by bike.

couch by bike
.

Workcycles bakfiets, pictured above, is not particularly well-suited for the task, as the couch is much too large to fix in the box. That didn’t stop it from being fun to make it work, anyway.

The best choice for hauling couches to use a Bikes-at-Work
trailer, as seen in the photos below.

Couch hunting: riverside break

Couch weight varies greatly. The one above had lots of metal guts to allow the seats to recline, plus it was water-logged for being outside. Simple couch designs can be relatively light, with a lot of the volume being in cushions.

new bikes-at-work trailer

I try to keep my total cargo weight not much above 200, so that the handling remains safe. It will be tempting to give friends rides on couches that you might be carrying, but this most likely quickly put you over that weight limit. That’s why the experience above didn’t last much longer than it took to take the photo. On some cargo hauling trips, I have carried a bathroom scale with me to check how much things weigh, to avoid exceeding safe limits. With practice I could get a sense of how cargo weights were adding up as the trailer was being loaded.

The lowest-effort arrangement for hauling couches by bike is to pair the Bikes-at-Work
trailer with electric assist. With that arrangement, I’ve been able to haul couch and loveseat pairs
without strain.

another alley couch and loveseat liberated
.

Hauling a couch and loveseat to the dump.
.

Weather canopy options for cargo bikes

A weather canopy for your children can make a big difference in your child’s comfort on the bike during rainy, cold or windy conditions.

The most iconic canopy option is the weather canopy for a bakfiets seen in the featured image above.

 

However, if you have a longtail cargo bike like an Xtracycle or Yuba Mundo, there are some DIY options worth knowing about, with detailed instructions available online.

I love the look the Covered Bike Wagon canopy by co-blogger Larry Clarkberg:

bike canopy side view

You can read more about how he made the covered bike wagon canopy and he can answer questions about it in the comments. His variation with solar panels is also worth a look:

solar bicycle

There’s more about this project at My Solar Bicycle. Most recently I spotted this solution for sun and rain production for a Yuba Mundo:

It’s not quite iconic but it gets the job done, and instructions are available online.

Yet another option to check out the Tiny Helmets Sun Hoods

You can also read more about the differences between the bakfiets, Xtracycles and the Yuba Mundo.