I live in a city of avid cyclists. Portland claims 180 miles of bike lanes, 79 miles of off-street bike paths, and was the first US city to use bike boxes. So this is not an uncommon site.
Okay, maybe it’s not common to see two 6’5” Gucci models posing in the middle of the street but what I do see a lot of is bicycle commuters. Maybe they’re not in full suits; in fact sometimes they’re not wearing anything at all. (I promise, that link isn’t as sketchy as it sounds.)
Whatever their garb, the point is, people are increasingly looking at biking as more than a fun summer activity. Cities like Boulder, Minneapolis, Austin, Chicago, New York… I’m going to stop there. This bike commuting movement has reached large and small cities alike and there’s fun gear that comes along with it.
You’ve got your chamois padded Lycra shorts, your waterproof messenger bag, your clipless pedals and the fancy shoes that go with them and you’re ready to go! That’s awesome but what do you do if your usual accessories aren’t just a laptop and a smartphone? What if they’re a stroller, a diaper bag, two changes of clothes, Goldfish crackers, a toddler, a laptop and a smartphone? Having extra things, even if one of those things walks and talks and adorably has goldfish crumbs on his chin, doesn’t relegate you to the land of the minivan. You can cart the kids around cycling style with the right ride.
The Tried and True Bike Seat
This option is nice if you’re not willing to part with the bike you already have or, if you have four bikes in your apartment and are unwilling to add another to your fleet (because as you’ve told your husband 500 times, “Seriously, there is no room!” — Sorry, this really isn’t about you guys anymore.) Traditional child seats attach to the rear rack of the bike and can carry up to 70 lbs. There are also seats available that attach to the front of your bike that can carry the smaller members of your brood — up to 33 lbs.
The Taga Child Carrier Bike and Luxury Baby Stroller is award winning for a reason (we’ve covered them before here). It’s a stroller and a bike all in one. The kid rides in front so you can hear and see them. The stroller portion is easily removable. There is less space for let’s say baby + big sis or baby + groceries. It’s also good to remember that it’s a trike so hauling it along for 30 mile rides might not be the best use for it but all in all it’s a nice ride, especially for parents with little ones who aren’t quite ready for a big kid seat.
Xtracycle gives riders a few different options for biking with cargo in tow. They have sidecars that can carry up to 250 lbs and I’ve seen a few kids on the Edgerunner Bike. My favorite item though is the Hooptie. The aluminum handrail keeps kids safe while riding on the back of Xtracycle bikes. It will hold up to 3 children when paired with RunningBoards Foot Supports and a FlightDeck. The Hooptie will work on any longtail compatible bicycle (a bike with a longer than usual frame wheelbase at the rear.) The Xtracycle is definitely a commitment with all the separate parts but it’s worth it for how easy it is to install Xtracycle add-ons and for a longtail bike option that puts the focus on kid carrying. Many other longtail options are recommended for non-giggling cargo only, but Xtracycle thought of kids first with the safety features they offer.
In Amsterdam, the Bakfiets is a biking parent’s staple. Wheelbarrow meets bicycle. This utility bike can be used to carry anything that fits in its forward compartment. It’s a good choice if you often find yourself having to cart more than just children around. The downside of this option is that it’s a spendy one that hasn’t evolved much in the years since its inception but quite frankly, it hasn’t needed to. The Shuttlebug and the Gazelle Cabby with lighter boxes and perhaps a leg up in terms of being easy to handle, are similar, slightly more technologically advanced options.
Burley has been around for over 30 years and like Xtracycle, Burley has a lot of different models and accessory kits to choose from. My favorite of the bunch is the Encore Child Bike Trailer. This one is a pricey choice as well. You’re paying for safety and the convenience of the removable washable seat pad, easy to use parking break and adjustable height handlebar. The Encore also has reclining seats for the kids just in case cruising along behind the pedaling person is taking a lot out of them. Just kidding, but really it is great for naps. The other obvious advantage the Burley has is it’s covered so little ones are protected from any elements you might encounter on your ride. It’s also compatible with the Baby Snuggler, which makes the Burley safe for riders 6-24 months old. Not as necessary but definitely the most fun feature, the Encore is also compatible with skis!
The FollowMe is the result of someone who is probably a genius considering the in between kids: the ones who are too big (or too cool) to ride in a trailer but who are still too young to navigate busy streets on their own. The FollowMe is a device that attaches to the back of an adult’s bike and can be folded out to hitch onto a kid’s bike, turning any two bicycles into a bicycle built for two for however long you need it to be.
See? No need for avid cyclists to stop biking with the arrival of mini cyclists. Pedal on my friends.