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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 09-01-10, 06:35 PM   #1
Standalone 
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Complicated quandary

My son's gotten too big for his Topeak kiddie seat. So no more hopping off the train one stop early with my 26" folder and strapping him to the back.

There is a bus, but it will only get us to my house with seconds to spare to meet my first grader, who apparently has a driver this year who drives like a bat out of hell, got to all his home-bound stops early on the first day and had to drive a bunch of kids back to school because their parents missed the stop. So I'm afraid to cut it close.

We have a Madsen bucket, and while I can do the 33 or 34 mile r/t on my old road bike solo, I can't ride an empty madsen 17 miles in and 17 miles back with the last 7 miles loaded. I average 18+ mph on the road bike, but between me and my wife, we've been making about 10 mph on the Madsen.

What's worse, my wife has added a day of daycare, so three of my five commuting days involves this child pick-up. I don't want to go down to only two commuting days a week!

I've been thinking on this for days, and have come up with some solutions:

1.) Xtra my folder and try to convince the conductor that it still counts as a "folding bike" (the only type allowed during commuting hours) and also hope it doesn't break in half.

2.) Ride the Madsen in 7 miles to daycare, hop on some locked-up beater 12 speed from CL, and ride to work and back on that.

3.) Switch the front racks from my utility bike to my folder and put all my gear up front to make a better balanced rig that will still feel pretty safe to ride on at least until the winter weather precludes commuting with the little guy.

None of these are that great an option. I had such a successful academic year worth of commuting last year. It put me in such great shape, and into such a good frame of mind. I'd hate to diminish that. Ideas?
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Old 09-01-10, 08:00 PM   #2
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Throw the folder into the madsen. Lock up the madsen at day care, go on the folder. Repeat in reverse.
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Old 09-01-10, 08:13 PM   #3
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Thought about that. Dismissed it b/c I had traded in my smaller folder (curve) towards the Madsen. But your post convinced em to at least see if I can get the 26" Espresso in. Otherwise... maybe rollerblades?
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Old 09-01-10, 09:11 PM   #4
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Do you have brompten? Can you use a Itchair? http://clevercycles.com/products/acc...air-child-seat
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Old 09-01-10, 10:17 PM   #5
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Is the 34 miles R/T to work and back, or is that to the train station and back?

If it's to work and back, and you're up for 17 miles, get a trailer to pull behind your road bike, arrange with the daycare to leave it there (they do this all the time with child seats, why not a folded Burly or Chariot trailer?), and ride the rest of the way solo.

If it's to the train station, you could look at the possibility of pulling a trailer with your folder - again, leave the trailer at the daycare, and ride the folder to the station.
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Old 09-01-10, 11:00 PM   #6
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Hire me as a Mothers Helper and I will ride the Madsen wherever you need me to.
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Old 09-02-10, 04:05 AM   #7
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7 mi. to Daycare. 10 to work from there. Pick-up only.

Pete-- where would the folder go on the way home w/the kid...?

We have a trailer. I do not trust local traffic w/ it behind me. And I'm a daring rider. People are nuts here. Connecticut = bad riding, at least in the populated areas.

And thanks for the job application, TravelMama!
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Old 09-02-10, 05:12 AM   #8
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Have you tried riding with a trailer in traffic?

IMO you get much much better treatment from other traffic than when solo.
I never have an issue with reckless overtaking and being squeezed when riding with a trailer, unlike when alone.
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Old 09-02-10, 06:06 AM   #9
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What about something like an Adams Trail-a-Bike that you leave at the daycare during the day?
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Old 09-02-10, 06:44 AM   #10
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My ex wife dropped our son off in the morning and a bike trailer folded up. I would then pick them both up after work. My kid and I loved it.
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Old 09-02-10, 10:37 AM   #11
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Have you tried riding with a trailer in traffic?

IMO you get much much better treatment from other traffic than when solo.
I never have an issue with reckless overtaking and being squeezed when riding with a trailer, unlike when alone.
I've tried the trailer thing. I haul cargo with it all the time, and have taken the kids on the road too.

I've biked all over Ireland and in the UK too, so I can tell you from experience that drivers are so very much more inattentive and agressive here in the states, especially in places like Connecticut, where the dangers of urban driving are combined with the sense of entitlement and inattentiveness of the suburbs. It's crazy here.

I have a folding trailer and two mounts for the rear dropout, so I can even keep one on my utility bike, but I'm still reluctant to go with the trailer....

As for a trail-a-bike, I know my 3 year old is not attentive enough to hang on to that for 30 minutes of busy traffic.

The route has a lot of shoulderless right turn only lanes that dictate taking the lane at intersections. A trailer/trail-a-bike is not the best thing to do this in.
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Old 09-02-10, 02:22 PM   #12
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OP: The xtracycle attachment is actually really excellent for this. There are a lot of kid carrier designs floating around the community; I liked this one:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.co...&ct=clnk&gl=us

I am a HUGE xtracycle fan for families with kids. And once The Kid is old enuf for the trail-a-bike, you can resell the xtra if you haven't found a good use for it.
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Old 09-02-10, 02:32 PM   #13
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you could get one of those frame mounted front racks to mount a car seat onto... and maybe a fairing....
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Old 09-02-10, 03:04 PM   #14
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OP: The xtracycle attachment is actually really excellent for this. There are a lot of kid carrier designs floating around the community; I liked this one:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.co...&ct=clnk&gl=us

I am a HUGE xtracycle fan for families with kids. And once The Kid is old enuf for the trail-a-bike, you can resell the xtra if you haven't found a good use for it.
right, but an xtra (or the madsen I opted for rather than an xtra) is not going to make a 34 mile/day run several days a week. I work on my feet in a high energy job, so I can't knock myself out every week on a heavy rig. And it won't be allowed on the train, unless I Xtra my folder...

All summer I was using the madsen to pick him up, which was a challege @ 14 miles r/t with a few good hills, but there were no time constraints and it sure wasn't a third of a century!
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Old 09-03-10, 06:48 AM   #15
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I've ridden my xtra 30 miles in a day, and it's a big ol' cruiser. It always felt to me that it was the donor bike's geometry that determined its handling. The Madsen, of course, is its own geometry. YMMV, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Of course, that doesn't solve the train problem.

Any possibility Day Care would let you keep the folder indoors there? You could chain it to an exposed pipe or something.

Tricky, tricky.
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Old 09-04-10, 02:12 AM   #16
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You're pretty well smashing all the ideas. Either we're trying to get water from a rock and this just isn't possible, or it is time to go back and see if there are some nooks that can be expanded.

Stashing a bike at Day Care overnight sounds like the magic pill. Or perhaps there's someplace nearby.

I'm glad you're going to try to rig a way to get the folder and the kid on the Madsen. That sounds like the most promising option within your comfort zone. Maybe it's time to go back and buy another small folder.

I'm having a tough time appreciating the pretty fine line of traffic situation where you ARE comfortable being on the road every day with your child in a bike rack car seat or the Madsen, but are NOT comfortable with a trailer.

Can you think of some reliable ways to slow down the school bus driver and/or speed up the metro bus driver? Perhaps valium and amphetamines snuck into coffee? (Don't get them mixed up)
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Old 09-04-10, 04:30 AM   #17
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seems to me your best solution is for either you or the wife to figure out a way to adjust your work schedule.

next best idea is probably to just drive to the daycare and commute from there on whatever bike you please.
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Old 09-04-10, 06:45 AM   #18
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7 mi. to Daycare. 10 to work from there. Pick-up only.

Pete-- where would the folder go on the way home w/the kid...?

We have a trailer. I do not trust local traffic w/ it behind me. And I'm a daring rider. People are nuts here. Connecticut = bad riding, at least in the populated areas.

And thanks for the job application, TravelMama!
Is there not enough room in the madsen for a small child and the folder? I pulled my kids in a trailer, and then later in the road train, all the time. Pretty much anywhere from Old Saybrook to New Haven. Somedays, we'd throw the gear in the car and go find somewhere new to ride. They loved NH and all of it's different and interesting neighborhoods, I worked in various colorful spots in the city so I always ended up in the choicests of spots. I found that they were much more likely to give me a very wide pass with the trailer than with just the trail-a-bike.
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Old 09-07-10, 12:55 PM   #19
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Is there not enough room in the madsen for a small child and the folder? I pulled my kids in a trailer, and then later in the road train, all the time. Pretty much anywhere from Old Saybrook to New Haven. Somedays, we'd throw the gear in the car and go find somewhere new to ride. They loved NH and all of it's different and interesting neighborhoods, I worked in various colorful spots in the city so I always ended up in the choicests of spots. I found that they were much more likely to give me a very wide pass with the trailer than with just the trail-a-bike.
No-- It's a 26" folder. I traded the 16" in to buy the Madsen. The 26" is a big bike. And my 3 year old is a big dude! (I'm 6'4") Hence the problem of him outgrowing the Topeak seat in the first place.

I'm thinking rollerblades or a longboard...
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Old 09-07-10, 12:58 PM   #20
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seems to me your best solution is for either you or the wife to figure out a way to adjust your work schedule.

next best idea is probably to just drive to the daycare and commute from there on whatever bike you please.
Parking in town is $$$. As a teacher, work is pretty much scheduled for me, and my wife's, while quite flexible, is already flexed as much as possible to make the bike commuting possible in the first place.

Thanks to all for their advice and thoughts. I'll get it figured out this week.... I'm already sick of driving!
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