One of our favourite things to do as a family is go for bike rides. We've been biking with Kale since he turned a year old and he absolutely loves it. Unfortunately it's been really, really hot this summer and since Kris rides his bike to and from work (that's 12km - or 7.5 miles - every day), he's not always up for clocking additional miles in the evening. The other night felt perfect for a ride and so we headed out, only to get caught in the rain! Here's a couple quick pics Kris snapped of us:
If you know me at all, you know I googled "biking with a toddler" about 800 times before strapping Kale in and taking the first few pedals. So here are my hot tips about cycling with a littler person and a few things you might want to consider.
Age. There are a lot of different opinions on when you can start biking with your child (just read the comments in this article!). However, it seems like the general consensus supports waiting until your little one is at least one year old (which is when we started riding with Kale).
Helmets. You need a bike helmet - not a hockey helmet or a ski helmet - a bike helmet. This is because each type of helmet is made to protect your head from the impacts common to a particular activity or sport. It's best to go to a professional and make sure the helmet is a good fit. Then you can do the "eyes, ears, mouth" check at home before you head out to make sure it's on properly.
Trailer vs. Mounted Seat. I researched this a lot but ultimately found that there isn't much research that suggests one is overwhelming more safe than the other. In fact, for every article that says a trailer is more safe, there is one to say that a mounted seat is better. This is a good article that talks about the safety (or lack thereof) of both.
The main advantages of a trailer are that it's low to the ground and so if there is a crash, baby doesn't have far to fall. They are also on an axel so if your bike tips, the trailer shouldn't. However, if you're doing a lot of road riding, you'll notice that they're slightly bigger than some bike lanes, which makes me nervous.
Kris uses the trailer with Kale, but I'm more comfortable with him in a rear-mounted seat on my bike. It can be tricky getting on and off with the added weight to the back, so I usually get Kris to spot us when he's there or prop the bike agains a wall for added support.
Kale definitely preferred the trailer during our first summer of biking (he was about 12 months to 17 months), but this summer (he's 26 months now) he will also bike the mounted seat if given the choice.
Front-Mounted vs. Rear-Mounted. I don't have any experience with front-mounted seats, but think this article might be helpful for those trying to make the decision.
Safety. Besides a helmet and a spoke shield for mounted-seats, the best thing you can to prepare yourself for riding with your toddler is to know the rules and ride responsibly. Make sure you're comfortable doing things like shoulder checks and signalling before taking your bike on the road. If you're going to ride in traffic, make sure you understand things like taking a lane and making turns.
Like I mentioned above, the bike trailer doesn't always fit in every bike lane and so the rear-mounted seat is preferable for biking on the road. In Ontario, the Highway Traffic Act defines a bike as a vehicle that belongs on the road (most city's have bylaws that allow children's bikes to ride on sidewalks). We are lucky to live in a bicycle-friendly City and so most major roads have bike lanes and traffic does a reasonably good job of sharing the road. I'm not sure how I'd feel about cycling in a larger city with high traffic with Kale on the back. I suppose you just have to stick with what you're comfortable with.
Do you like to cycle with your toddler? Have any tips to share?