Commuting with kids

Kids Tandem

When my children were smaller I sometimes had to transport them from work to home by bike. When they were both smaller, they both fit in the trailer. When their combined weight exceeded 100 pounds, though, we moved up to the “bike train” — my bike towing a trailer bike which towed the child trailer.

Eventually, though, my son became strong enough to ride the six miles from my office to home on his own bike. My route selection is a little more conservative when I ride with my kids than when I ride on my own, but bicycle commuting for most people means riding in traffic for at least part of the trip.

Children don’t have the street experience or judgment of adults when riding in traffic, so I always had my son ride in front of me where I could keep an eye on him; it’s also much easier to give vocal instructions to him from behind. The slower rider in front also paces the ride perfectly for the slower cyclist.

The Purple Pig blog on “Bicycle Commuting & Touring the Newby Way” discusses cycling with children quite a bit. The blog author, Chaty, reminds us that beginning cycling must concentrate first and foremost on fun. This is what I did with my children, making every cycling trip a fun trip for them by getting them a treat or otherwise rewarding them during and after the ride.

Chaty and I seem to share a common philosophy in training children to ride in the road.

There’s an article on riding safely with toddlers that can be helpful for the new parent who bikes.

I know some children are a little embarrassed being the child of “the weirdo who bikes everywhere,” while others think it’s kind of cool. If you have children, what do they think of your bike commute habit? Do they bike more because of it? How do you encourage your children to ride their bikes?

That photo, by the way, was taken by me this morning in Palo Alto, California during my bike commute. That’s a KidzTandem bicycle built by Brown Cycles of Grand Junction, Colorado. Sorry about the crookedness — this family was moving along and I had just enough time to whip my camera around and snap the picture.

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