Posts Tagged: family


1
Jun 2013
by mark

How to attach a Burley Piccolo to a Yuba Mundo

The Yuba Mundo is a great bike for carrying young children, and the Burley Piccolo is a great way to extend a bike so that child from 4 to 10 can help pedal.


Yuba Train Rolls Along

With our Burley Piccolo, our older child is happier riding than sitting, as parents we get some extra help pedaling. It’s a win-win. Unfortunately, there’s no official way to connect the two items right now, although Yuba has hinted at official accessory for this in the future.

Here’s how we made our own attachment for the Burley Piccolo and the Yuba Mundo. It’s been working really well for us.

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27
Oct 2012
by mark

Electric Cargo Bike Camping

I made this little video about an electric cargo bike camping trip I took with my family:


9
Apr 2012
by mark

A weekend of family biking firsts

On Saturday morning my 4 year-old got to take her first ride on the back of
our Xtracycle, using stoker bars instead of a kid seat. She loved it.
That was no suprise, but I enjoyed it more than I thought as well.

Xtracycle stoker bar kit

I expected it to feel more loosey-goosey without the constraint of the
seat, but it actually felt more stable and easier to ride. I’m guessing
that’s due to three factors: First, the weight of the seat has been
subtracted, and replaced with some rather light handlebars. Second, her
weight had dropped about 6 inches, lowering our center of gravity.
Third, I expect her ability to lean side-to-side more may have
contributed to a more natural feel. We’ll continue to use a kid-seat for
her on our electric Yuba Mundo, but I expect we’ll use the stoker bars
for most trips on the Xtracycle now.

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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.


28
Aug 2010
by don

Cargo bike brakes with kids on board

To avoid developing brake monomania, I’m promising myself that this will be my last post (at least for awhile) on the topic of cargo bike brakes.

But I noticed something interesting during my emergency braking tests yesterday: my bike had approximately the same stopping distance when carrying 180 pounds of cargo as it did with no cargo.  How could I explain the physics of that?

I think it’s because stopping performance depends on the friction generated between the tires and the pavement.  On an unloaded bike, the front tire does extra duty as the weight of the rider bears down on it – just like the front of a car dips down during hard braking.  In this scenario, the unloaded back tire can’t produce as much friction, and it’s easier to lock into a skid.

With 180 extra pounds over the rear wheel, the back tire carries more weight, and the job of slowing down the bike will be more equitably distributed between the two wheels.  The greater momentum of the extra weight just about matches the extra friction exerted by the back tire, and stopping distances remain about the same.

That was comforting to me until I realized that the bike’s center of gravity is also an important consideration.  I carried my heavy containers of water relatively low.  If I were carrying a passenger on the cargo deck, the center of gravity would be higher, and once again a lot of that weight would be loaded onto the front wheel during hard braking.  Stopping distance would probably lengthen.

Trying to stop on a downward slope would also increase the load on the front wheel.  For some combination of slope, speed, weight, center of gravity, brake type and condition, and road slickness, there will be safety issues.

Skidding

As my experience shows, things get dicey if your tires begin to skid.  A skidding rear tire isn’t too bad, except that it might indicate less-than-optimal weight distribution and diminished stopping power.  There’s also a slight loss of maneuverability; it’s easier to steer the bike if both wheels are rotating.

A skidding front tire is another story.  It’s nearly impossible to steer when your front tire is skidding.  If you try, the tire is likely to catch the pavement, at which point your handlebars will be wrenched from your hands or you will be removed from your seat.  The outcome of that situation is up to God’s mercy.

Moral of the story

The main thing that motivated me to write about this topic again is the realization that emergency stops with human cargo may be riskier than heavy loads with a lower center of gravity.  Especially if you’re carrying kids, you should practice a series of quick stops at progressively higher speeds until you find your comfort limit, and then you should stay below it.  Holding on during quick braking is good practice for your kids as well.

In addition, you should be extra, extra careful on hills or wet streets.

With kids on board, I am planning to reduce my speed and rethink my transport strategy in wet weather.


4
Apr 2010
by mark

Happy Easter


19
Sep 2009
by mark

Reflections on box bike touring

So I had this crazy idea to take a heavy, hundred pound bike on a 5 day, 220 mile bike trip through the rolling hills of Southeastern Indiana. To make the trip more interesting, my 18-month old, 30-pound daughter would ride in the bike I peddled, with my wife and retired father riding their own bikes along side us. My friend Kurt would also join us on a homemade recumbent bike he finished welding the night before departure.

We rode from Richmond, Indiana to Clifty Falls State Park over two days, camped and rested for a day, and rode back. Rather than journaling a day-by-day account of the trip, I’ve gathered some reflections on different aspects of the trip.

Sleep dog gets rejected for a backpack

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