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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 07-22-10, 09:32 PM   #1
cradduck
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Commuting with a toddler...need ideas?

My shift at work is going to be changing soon and this means more time with my daughter and less time with her in daycare. I am going to be working in the afternoon/evening and my wife will have her normal banker's hours. Since there is about a two hour overlap between when I need to leave and when my wife gets off work she will be in daycare those few hours.

My idea was to have her ride with me to daycare since it is on the way and then haul the empty trailer/seat/etc with me the rest of the way to work and back

I have read on sites like consumer reports that two-wheeled trailers are not good for riding on roads because their width presents a hazard and can be clipped by cars. Also, I used to pull my niece in one of these years ago and they have decent amount of rolling resistance even when unloaded (maybe some different tires could help?) and 12 miles pulling one of these can't be fun.

I liked the idea of a rear mounted bike seat...but the horizontal top tube might be a problem. I have only seen people use these with stepthrough beach cruisers and accustomed to bringing my leg over the back of the bike.

I did find this trailer but unfortunately, my 14 month old little girl is only 33.5" tall and this trailer states that it is for kids over 38"

My other option, and one I do not want to use, is to drive her to daycare, drive home, and then ride to work.

Are there other options to look at?
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Old 07-22-10, 09:45 PM   #2
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http://bakfiets.nl/eng/models_cargo_trike.php
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Old 07-22-10, 09:59 PM   #3
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I had that routine years ago when our daughter was small. I'd take her to daycare which was a few miles past where I worked and then ride back to work. The first few years we used a rear child seat on the back of my road bike. No problem with a high top tube - just swing your leg over the front of the bike instead of the back (practice first without the kid aboard). Those 'Baby on Board' signs were popular on cars at the time so I attached one to the back of the chiild seat. I put 'Vacancy' on the back and would flip it over after dropping her off.

When she was about 3.5 we switched to using our tandem. I got a Phil Wood clamp-on bottom bracket that attached partway up the stoker's seat tube to let her reach the pedals. Instead of the usual chain arrangement where the stoker's crankset drives the rear wheel cogs, I put on an extra-long chain that went all the way from the front crankset to the rear wheel. Worked fine and eliminated any chainline issues with cross-over gear combinations. Used the tandem through kindergarten and then the school system offered bus transportation and an after-school program so I didn't need to take her anymore.

I think either a two-wheel trailer or a child-seat would be feasible for you. We did use a trailer for awhile, but I found that it was harder to communicate while riding. But I do sometimes use a siimilar trailer for touring and have never had any issues in traffic - even in urban centers. If you do go with the bakfiet approach above, I'd recommend the two-wheel CargoBike over the CargoTrike for better handling and maneuverability.
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Old 07-22-10, 10:04 PM   #4
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I have a rear-mounted seat on my MTB. It's definitely a stretch getting my leg up and over the top tube without being able to lean the bike over with my son in the seat. I can't to do a side mount because I'd end up kicking him in the head as I tried to swing my leg over. It may not look graceful, but I make it work. BTW installing the 2-leg kickstand is a big help when loading my son in the seat.



In retrospect I wish I had bought one of these:



I just seems a better choice for interaction with one's toddler. Sometimes I'm afraid my son is missing out on the ride while seated behind me. Just Google "ibert seat" for a list of retailers.

Another option is to install a trailer bike or "third wheel". There are a few that can fit a baby seat and the great thing is that when the child is big enough he or she can graduate to the trailer bike. Here's one from Adams Trail-a-Bike:


Last edited by irclean; 07-22-10 at 10:18 PM. Reason: Added trailer bike
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Old 07-22-10, 10:08 PM   #5
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I've ridden with rear-mounted and front-mounted seats, and front-mounted seats are way better. You can always see the kid, it's easy to chat, and the kids love to watch the scenery and pretend to help you steer.

When they get too big for that, I like the trail-a-bike, because you use up their energy pedaling.
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Old 07-23-10, 05:55 AM   #6
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I roll (usually) with the Chariot Sidecar. It gives me peace of mind, is compact, handles well, has all-weather compatibility, and some cargo capacity. It slows you down a bit, but for my 2.1mi ride, totally acceptable. Oh yeah, it elicits oohs and aahs; chicks dig it.



For two kids (I've only one, but sometimes a friend) and/or bigger loads like a grocery run, I use my Tanjor aero. Inline seating makes it narrow and the shape slippery. All alu frame and wheels keep it light and fast. Also weatherproof, so I can use it anytime.





Did I mention chicks dig this, too? Just kidding, but It does garner a lot of compliments and questions.

I actually received an email this week from a woman who saw my YouTube video of the Tanjor and contacted me with valuation questions for a sale, so if your interested, contact me and I can pass along her info.

Last edited by chaadster; 07-23-10 at 09:05 AM.
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Old 07-23-10, 07:47 AM   #7
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I used to pull my two kids around in a Burley trailer. Yeah, it's heavy and slow, but I would drop them at daycare, lock the trailer up outside, and then I could pick it up on the way home. Also, people tend to go farther around the trailer than they do with me on the bike by myself.


I've used this setup

Although, once the boy got too big for the trailer, we went to this rig
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Old 07-23-10, 08:05 AM   #8
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I used an InStep Turbo Trailer for years. They are much cheaper than the Burley, and mine stood up to years of daily use in rain, snow, whatever. I never found a hill that I coudn't manage to ride up while pulling it, even with a 7 speed bike. It's easy to pack it up in the morning -- just strap your child in, toss the inevitable bags, toys and whterver in, and go. Drivers would pass carefully, frequently smiling and waving and often stopping to ask where they could get one. My daughter absolutely loved the thing and much preferred it to either of our cars. A Bakfiets is more efficient, but with the trailer, once you drop off the child, you can leave the trailer locked up and enjoy riding an unburdened bike to work.

Eight years later, the trailer is good for getting groceries and my daughter rides her own bike with me as we go to summer day camp.

Paul
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Old 07-23-10, 09:29 AM   #9
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@ Chaadster; love that sidecar! I didn't even know such a thing existed for a bicycle. It must take up the whole MUP or a full lane on the road. Very cool!
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Old 07-23-10, 09:52 AM   #10
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@ Chaadster; love that sidecar! I didn't even know such a thing existed for a bicycle. It must take up the whole MUP or a full lane on the road. Very cool!
Thanks, I love it too! It really doesn't feel all that wide, and Chariot says it's overall width is the same as a typical 2-seat trailer (remembering the Sidecarrier is only a "monoposto"). That said, I'm thankful most of my destinations can be reached via bike lanes, neighborhood routes, and moderate traffic load two lanes, where I can comfortably take the lane without disrupting the flow of traffic.
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Old 07-23-10, 11:15 AM   #11
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I routinely dropped my first child off at daycare using a Burley D'Lite trailer when he was young. I had to double back past my house on the way to work anyway, so I dropped off the trailer at home.

Like others have said, drivers pass the trailer at wider distance than they do when I'm not pulling the trailer. I'm convinced that the visibility of the trailer more than makes up for the extra width in terms of safe passing. However, drivers will hesitate to pass you under conditions when you might want them to pass, so you may find that you affect traffic flow more than you want to. I stick to either lower traffic roads or wide roads with speed limits no higher than 35 mph to minimize the possibility of social friction when pulling the trailer.

I think I notice the wind and weight more than rolling resistance on the trailer. The "trail-a-bike" type has less resistance. My oldest uses a Burley Kazoo now, which I sometimes use to drop him off or pick him up places, and it's faster empty than the lower, wider child trailers.

If you really want the ultimate ride with your kid, get a tandem, with various adaptations for different ages. It will handle much better at speed than the trailers and will last through the teen years.
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Old 07-23-10, 11:40 AM   #12
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I used to pull my two kids around in a Burley trailer. Yeah, it's heavy and slow, but I would drop them at daycare, lock the trailer up outside, and then I could pick it up on the way home. Also, people tend to go farther around the trailer than they do with me on the bike by myself.
Yeah my experience is that a trailer increases the space people give you, not that it is an additional risk for clipping (although you do have to pay attention going through curbcuts/whatever).

My kids have been trailering for about 5 years now. My 9 yr old is finally large enough to break it, and I haven't really tried to jam him into it since he was 6. My 5 yr old is only recently past the weight limit of a rack seat but she has been past the usable size of one for a couple years. She will fit in the trailer for another year or so, although possibly will not need to any more after this coming school year. Meantime, I can fit her and a friend or her and a bunch of cargo into the 2 seater.

This is them just this morning:



The trailer is a replacement (long story) for our original burley 2 seater, so my son has never ridden in this one. Their new designs have a lot of improvements but in terms of actual usable space I far prefer the old boxy one, from back when they were a co-op, that we lost. So if I had to do it over again, I'd look harder for 2nd hand.
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Old 07-23-10, 12:35 PM   #13
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Mamachari

Perhaps the Japanese Mamachari is one of the best designed bicycle for carrying toddlers and babies. The bicycle was designed for mothers and riding this type of bicycle, one can see the stability and comfort it gives the rider.







Check out Mamachari Philippines in this thread.

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Old 07-23-10, 12:56 PM   #14
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xtracycle with a peapod attachment. Then when they are too big for the peapod, get a stoker bar and a pad for the deck.

http://www.xtracycle.com/cargo-bicyc...le-stoker.html
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Old 07-24-10, 03:07 AM   #15
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Perhaps the Japanese Mamachari is one of the best designed bicycle for carrying toddlers and babies. The bicycle was designed for mothers and riding this type of bicycle, one can see the stability and comfort it gives the rider

Check out Mamachari Philippines in this thread.
Whereas the mamachari certainly met the needs defined by the socio-economic conditions of a developing Japan, from a purely design perspective, that style of bicycle leaves much to be desired in terms of child safety and riding efficiency.

Really, I shudder to think of what could happen to the kid on that thing in a worst case scenario that should cause the bike to go down. Having other options such as a low trailer that remains upright even when the bike goes down is a no-brainer choice for me.

That said, there have been some new developments in the style, such as the benchmark Angelina series from Bridgestone introduced this year.



At a US equivalent of about $1500 they ain't cheap, but do incorporate some much needed safety features.

I'd like one for the stable, for fun, but wouldn't pay much for what to me is a novelty ride.
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Old 07-24-10, 06:47 AM   #16
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My wife seems to think that the seats that are on the front of the bike are more dangerous that the seats on the back of the bike. I would think that it really wouldn't matter where the seat is. In case of an accident the outcome would probably be the same. Meh. I just don't know how to refute her argument
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Old 07-24-10, 08:03 AM   #17
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My wife seems to think that the seats that are on the front of the bike are more dangerous that the seats on the back of the bike. I would think that it really wouldn't matter where the seat is. In case of an accident the outcome would probably be the same. Meh. I just don't know how to refute her argument
I'd tend to agree with your wife, if only because the moveable front wheel would tend to let the child/weight naturally move towards the ground, possibly smacking a kid face first on the ground, with the bike's and your trailing weight coming to bear on top.

Like you, I have no idea if that is actually how it happens, and certainly the nature of the accident would be a huge factor. One thing for sure, though, is that a weighted steering mechanism is inherently less stable, and I've never seen a bike crash where the front wheel stayed straight (i.e. inline with the frame).

The biggest issue for me is the height of the fall in any situation. With the mamachari, the kid's head is 4 or 5 feet off the ground; that's lot's of space to accelerate the tender noggin into the tarmac. It's a serious impact. With a trailer, for example, the child's head is probably less than half the distance, not to mention less likely to tip in the first place. Most also have some type of frame to protect the child in the extreme case of a flip.

So yeah, I agree the outcome of a crash with front seating and a crash with rear seating would probably be equally devastating.
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Old 07-24-10, 08:10 AM   #18
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I'd tend to agree with your wife, if only because the moveable front wheel would tend to let the child/weight naturally move towards the ground, possibly smacking a kid face first on the ground, with the bike's and your trailing weight coming to bear on top.

Like you, I have no idea if that is actually how it happens, and certainly the nature of the accident would be a huge factor. One thing for sure, though, is that a weighted steering mechanism is inherently less stable, and I've never seen a bike crash where the front wheel stayed straight (i.e. inline with the frame).

The biggest issue for me is the height of the fall in any situation. With the mamachari, the kid's head is 4 or 5 feet off the ground; that's lot's of space to accelerate the tender noggin into the tarmac. It's a serious impact. With a trailer, for example, the child's head is probably less than half the distance, not to mention less likely to tip in the first place. Most also have some type of frame to protect the child in the extreme case of a flip.

So yeah, I agree the outcome of a crash with front seating and a crash with rear seating would probably be equally devastating.
My baby seat (see pic in post #4) is molded in such a way that the seat itself would hopefully absorb most of the impact in the event of a sideways fall. Hopefully his helmet would protect his little noggin. I also added another strap around his waist that I pilfered from his toboggan to make it a 5-point instead of a 3-point harness. Of course, I try to be proactive and avoid falls by riding at moderate speeds and avoiding busy streets.
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Old 07-24-10, 08:11 AM   #19
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At 14 mos I would get either a bicycle seat (rear or front, whichever you feel safer with) or a trailer. The trailer will last longer, although I've just moved from using a trailer to an Xtracycle and the weight of my kids feels much lighter when it's actually on the bike. Although I have 2 kids weighing 80 lbs total. The weight of your one young toddler might not feel much at all in a trailer.
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Old 07-24-10, 08:47 AM   #20
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At 14 mos I would get either a bicycle seat (rear or front, whichever you feel safer with) or a trailer. The trailer will last longer, although I've just moved from using a trailer to an Xtracycle and the weight of my kids feels much lighter when it's actually on the bike. Although I have 2 kids weighing 80 lbs total. The weight of your one young toddler might not feel much at all in a trailer.
Speaking of age, another thing to consider is jolting of the young child.

Hard-mounted seating, like the front/rear seats, probably subjects the child to harsher impacts from bad road surfaces than does the slung seating of trailers (or the Chariot Sidecarrier), which provide a type of passive suspension.

Thinking of delicate young children, this is probably something to consider.
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Old 07-24-10, 08:52 AM   #21
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I really like that inline chadster has but my kiddo has graduated to the trail a bike. I really like that as she can help move us along now.

Her old trailer is being converted to a cargo hauler.

I had a rear mount seat...NEVER again! The front mount seat is WAY better and safer especially when loading. The rear mounts it is a real trick to load a kid and then get on the bike. The rear mount also makes the bike handle like hell.

The front rider once they are walking it is very easy to straddle the bike and lift them and load them and loading was always where I had my fear of the bike falling with the rear mount. As for a crash....as a parent I would be wrapping my body around my kid on the front mount as we go down. Not even an option on a rear. The weight distribution is also better making the bike handle better.

I do not know where our country went rear mounts almost exclusively. When you look at other country's most small children are in front mounts.
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Old 07-24-10, 08:55 AM   #22
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That sidecar is COOOL.

I think the safest way to carry a kid on a bike is in a trailer. These are typically made to be highly visible, I don't know of any that aren't; and in the highly unlikely event that there is some kind of incident that can cause the trailer to tip over, the kid(s) are closer to the groud (less distance to fall), and are protected by the frame and fabric of the trailer and their helmets.

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I have read on sites like consumer reports that two-wheeled trailers are not good for riding on roads because their width presents a hazard and can be clipped by cars.
I have found this to be untrue. I have found that, regardless of the type of trailer, motorists tend to give a cyclist with a trailer much more room than the same cyclist on the same bike without a trailer. Much more likely would be you clipping an obstacle with the trailer that you could have easily passed with the bike alone. Kids don't like being bounced over curbs ... Well, some don't. Mine daughter wanted to do it again.

" Do it again, Daddy. "


I haven't noticed a lot of rolling resistance with my Burley Solo or Flatbed. Sure there's some, but a little is to be expected. In fact with both these trailers I was surprised at how easy they towed. Now my Wike Woody Wagon is a different story, but it's usually wearing a 14 1/2 foot canoe complete with all my gear for a days fishing.

One thing I have found is to put spare tubes for the trailer in with the spare tubes for the bike.
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Old 07-24-10, 01:57 PM   #23
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If you're going pure safety, the answer is "trailer." I'd definitely do the sidecar, because it makes conversation easy.
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Old 07-25-10, 07:52 PM   #24
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The sidecar and the Tanjor are awesome. I'd love to get one now, I'm sure I could put them to good use! I don't think they were available when my kids were little. I used the bike seat on the back system.
What should I use to ride my kids places now? They are 17 and 12 :>) I'd give my right arm to see my 17 year old on the cargo end of an Extracycle with me peddlin' away!
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Old 07-26-10, 10:20 AM   #25
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Don't overthink the trailer based upon Consumer Reports. They work fine and I've found that cars give you a bigger berth when using them.
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