Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Whole Family Biking

When grownups become parents, they often look longingly at their bikes collecting dust and then pile everyone in the car.  But having kids doesn’t necessarily mean giving up biking until they are old enough to ride on their own.  Here are some great tips for getting your little ones on wheels and getting your exercise.  Most of these options include a little investment, but we have also included some suggestions for finding good deals on kid-ready equipment and changing up your rig as they age. 
  • Get them a good helmet.  Nutcase is a great brand for kids because they are size adjustable, very sturdy and come in cool colors and prints.  Specialized also makes a Small Fry helmet and both of these companies comply with safety regulations. A new helmet is optimal because they can become compromised once they have been in an accident.  
  • For little ones, get an attachable seat that secures to a rack on the back wheel of your bike.  These are lined, molded plastic chairs with belts that ride over the back tire.  The great part about this is that your child is right behind you so they have a good view of you.  Even babies and toddlers that don’t like to ride in the stroller are usually into it because mama or papa is so close by.  A note on this: never trust the kickstand when the child is in the seat, and once your child exceeds a certain weight, the bike can become top heavy and more challenging to balance.  However, this is a great option for smaller children.
  • When toddlers and smaller children are about tricycle ready, you can tow them in a trailer.  A trailer is a safe and fun way for them to ride with you. Bike trailers are lightweight, highly visible (most come with a flag!) and some can fit two children and still have storage in the back compartment.  It is VERY important that if you are riding in traffic that you use your bell, make eye contact with drivers when you can, stray in the bike lane and use your hand signals to indicate when you are turning.  If you take your trailer on a dirt path, you can outfit it with slightly cushier tires for handling.  Kids really love riding in the trailer because it’s like a tiny room.  
  • By the time they are riding on their own, but are not yet ready for traffic or longer rides, you can get a tow bar attachment that fastens to the seat post of your bike.  It has a single wheel and a crank so they can pedal too.  If you are commuting to school or just out in the park, this is a good solution because it helps them participate but doesn’t place the entire propelling burden on them.  
Whenever you are trying out new equipment, take it for a test drive without the kids first so you can learn how to maneuver.  Then practice with them in their seat in a safe place like an empty parking lot or cul-de-sac.  
While some of these purchases are a little spendy brand new, the good news is that most people only use one of these options for a year or two, so picking up good condition used items is easy.  As your kids outgrow these options, you can pay in forward by posting them on Craigslist or giving them to someone with younger children. Here are some products to peruse:
This is just a great resource for all things biking: http://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/tell-me-about-towing-a-kid
Here is one of the most popular trailers on the market: http://www.burley.com/
Biking is so rewarding and fun, not to mention carbon emission free, sound pollution free and human powered. Most municipalities are encouraging bike riding by maintaining paths and adding bike lanes, so whether you are taking a day trip or just commuting to school and work, you can get your exercise and feel good about taking your car off the road for the day.  The whole family can get some fresh air, some sunshine and go on a little adventure that kids truly enjoy.  

About Susie Almaneih

Susie Almaneih spent several years during her young adulthood teaching children dance at her church group, as well as other cultural-based activities. Susie now spends as much time as she can giving back to the families in her community. Over the years, this love for community has evolved into a deeper love for delivering positive and creative content and awareness to families of all ages.

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