Cargo Bikes vs Bike Trailers

When we were planning our recent family bike tour, one of our big decisions was whether to use a bike trailer to carry one or two children in or to just use a cargo bike at home.

After seriously considering a bike trailer, we ultimately to just use a cargo bike instead. Here are some we considered in our decision.

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Counting Cows: Our Favorite Family Bike Touring Game

To pass the time while we were riding my wife taught the rest of us a car game she learned growing up in Vermont. The game involves counting animals you see along the road. The game itself is now near extinction as a car game with the amount of driving that now happens on interstates and in cities.

She knew the game as “Bury your Pooches” or just “Pooches”.

In her childhood version,

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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 ages 4 to 10 can help pedal.

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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How I found myself running errands with two kids by bike

Welcome Mrs. S., a biking mother of two young children who is making her first post here.

Yuba Train Rolls Along

I don’t consider myself a hardcore cyclist, but after completing the 30 Days of Biking challenge and now having signed up for the Endomondo National Bike Challenge I have to admit to myself that at this point I am bicycling with at least the same frequency that I am driving my car. I feel like I should write at least something about my bike experiences.

Perhaps I should confess at this point that I love to drive. I also love my car. Having never had a car newer than 8 years old and most frequently having traded in a 16 year old vehicle, my 2010 is like a dream. It looks nice, runs great, has loads of space, and has a cd player (how could I ask for more?). It doesn’t get bad mileage either, for a mini-van. But I don’t love buying gas. I also don’t love using up fossil fuels for trips that could be just as easy (or even easier) with my bike.

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Biking with kids: crashing and learning

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.

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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’sH 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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.