02
Apr 2012
by mark

Biking with kids: crashing and learning

Untitled

Yesterday I wrote about my 4 year old’s success with her first cross-town bike trip. I closed with a promise to tell the story of her ride with an unfortunate ending the day before.

Here’s that story, with more thoughts on kids and bike crashes.

We had ridden about 1.5 miles uneventfully through Richmond to
drop off a package at the Post Office. A Cardinal Greenway trailhead is
practically behind the Post Office, so we proceeded to ride
up to Springwood Lake Park. Heading home, she had ridden just over 4 miles
when she was suddenly thrown over the handlebars in a tangle of body and
bike.

It seemed like the safest of conditions: She was on a flat stretch of paved
trail, with no one else close to her (except for me
following her). I soon found there had been a singular rock on the
trail– a golf ball-sized stone that had a similar color to the
pavement. She impacted the front of her helmet. I think she would have had
no injury at all, except she had recently bumped and bruised her
forehead on a fall while she was running. This time the helmet
pressed against the bruise and made it hurt.

Continue reading →


01
Apr 2012
by mark

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 →


31
Mar 2012
by mark

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 →


30
Mar 2012
by larry

Costs and Planning for a Car-Lite Family of Four

No Virtue Required: Car-Lite Family Transportation Is Less Expensive, Faster, and More Flexible than Car-Encumbered Transportation

In his recent post, my co-blogger Don writes about “the virtue in choosing the right [transportation] tool for the job”. I realized that my own family makes regular use of five, count ‘em FIVE transportation options: walking; bicycling; busing; driving various CarShare and rental vehicles; and (in dwindling amounts) driving my wife’s tiny red Mini. Yesterday epitomized our highly flexible family transportation: we criss-crossed Ithaca together and separately and then at the end of the day we all landed together on our couch like the opening sequence of a Simpson’s episode.

Continue reading →


19
Mar 2012
by mark

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 →


18
Mar 2012
by mark

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 →


10
Mar 2012
by don

Transportation: All Options on the Table!

Don on Hammer Truck

For the past couple of years, it has been my habit to begin each New Year with a status update on my blog. In past updates, I’ve described how my cargo bike lifestyle is developing, how the cargo bike market is growing, and I’ve even tried to predict what the young year might bring. In moments of wild optimism, I’ve declared “this is the year of the electric cargo bike!”

My annual update is a little late this year, partly due to the extra effort needed to coordinate with Mark and Larry to bring our combined super-blog online. I think you’ll agree the time was well-spent. I’m personally quite excited about it, because the frequent contact with kindred spirits makes me feel less solitary in my pursuit of more efficient, more environmental, and more humanitarian transportation. Even better, I will now have more time to write instead of spending hours on the more mechanical aspects of maintaining a web blog. (Mark and Larry are both more blog-savvy than I, although I hope to do my part!)

It’s ironic that I’m riding my cargo bike less now than in previous updates. That’s mostly because I started a new job at the University of Washington (I write software to analyze data collected from mass spectrometers), and my commute takes me across a floating bridge that has no bike lane. There are beautiful bike lanes on Seattle’s other floating bridge, but it’s a pretty long ride (about 3 hours round-trip!) Instead, I walk a couple of miles and take the bus.

That brings me to the title of today’s article. I now find myself using many different transporation options depending on trip distance, speed, and number of people accompanying me. The cargo bike is the most satisfying (definitely the most exhilirating!), but other modes have their place:

  • Walking works well for short distances without the overhead of locking the bike and worrying about its security.
  • The bus is a great time to catch up on podcasts and/or sleep!
  • Our solar-powered Leaf is only a small improvement in the sea of cars on our roads, but it’s handy when kids and gear need to be transported greater distances to music lessons and gymnastics practice.

If you’re wondering why I’m using your valuable time to enumerate my transportation choices, it’s because I think there’s virtue in choosing the right tool for the job. Although many Americans have a choice of options, most are content to use their cars for every trip. We have a car mono-culture, and like mono-cultures in agriculture or thought or politics, it’s fragile (vulnerable to swings in the price of oil), imbalanced in its use of resources, and frankly, it’s boring! It’s empowering to have freedom of choice when I need to get somewhere. Sitting in my single-occupant car in a traffic jam is the opposite of freedom.

I hope that the words I write here will help improve the world, and I’m encouraged by emails I’ve received from numerous people. But my actions have power as well. Many friends and neighbors have seen me riding my bike or walking to the bus stop, and suddenly the light dawns: “I could try that too!” One woman I know thought she might drive across town so she could get on the bus at my stop, just to see how it’s done. That first ride on public transportation is really that intimidating! I wish there were some way we could lower the barrier.

Making a choice at odds with the car mono-culture is simultaneously difficult and liberating.


09
Mar 2012
by mark

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 →


08
Mar 2012
by mark

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:

http://vimeo.com/37897757

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 →


07
Mar 2012
by larry

Who Stole Our Snow? Weather Now Carries Accountability

Preventing extreme weather is a moral issue that requires our individual concern and lots of electric cargo bikes.

Melting snow reveals warm railroad ties hidden beneath the rails-to-trails path near my house.

Melting snow reveals warm railroad ties hidden beneath the rails-to-trails path near my house.

This winter Ithaca has had an unsettling lack of snow. We’re lucky: the main consequence is simply a lackluster ski season here. My sister in Amherst Massachusetts has had a bit more excitement: they’ve had a freak ice storm on Halloween, a hurricane, a tornado, and an earthquake. Yikes.

Global warming causes extreme weather. And global warming is in turn caused by humans. Yet news media still seem to be treating weather events as if they were acts of God, arbitrary and beyond our control. People say “That darn weather blew away my barn! But what can you do?” instead of “You people and your pollution wrecked my barn!”. There is no one to sue as there was with the Gulf oil spill. Because oil is visible and sticky and smells bad we can easily accept that the Gulf oil spill wrecked the shrimp industry in Louisiana. But because the CO2 that causes global warming is widespread and transparent, we can’t as easily see that the “CO2 spill” coming from our tailpipes is similarly wrecking ecosystems all over the planet.

It may have been true a hundred years ago that weather events were solely natural phenomena, but this is no longer the case. Weather is now man-made. Humans are accountable for the weather. When I saw the empty muddy ski trails around Ithaca this winter I thought Continue reading →