Car Free with Kids?
My wife and I have recently learned that we're pregnant with our potential first child. I've been living as car-minimally as I can get by with for several years (my wife is still a gas junkie--it's a mixed marriage). Thanks in part to an Xtracycle I've figured out how to carry almost everything I might ever need to carry, but I suspect a kid will be a whole 'nuther story.
I'm sure I'm not the first person to want to drag a child into the world of bikes-as-transportation, so I'd greatly appreciate any tips, tricks, experiences, advice or cautionary tales any of you could pass along.
Just to put it in perspective. I live about 10 miles outside of a small university town. I currently commute daily primarily on sparsely populated back roads with a brief interlude on a moderately trafficked 2 lane state road, with the last mile or so in town on small town streets.
Thanks in Advance!
I've never had a kid but my first thought is: How's the public transportation?
We're car-free with an almost 3-year old now. Wife doesn't even have a license. You're already on to something great with the Xtracycle. We are pleased with the Wike trailer, which is compatible with the Xtracycle: http://www.wicycle.com/bst.htm . The stroller kit upgrade is good. So is the Dutch child seat distributed by Xtracycle, when your kid gets big enough for it. Most people in North America will tell you you're a fool to take an infant in a trailer, but it's quite common in, e.g., the Netherlands, while driving is the #1 cause of preventable death in children 2-14 in the US. We strapped a car seat into the trailer before son could hold his head up, and were naturally *very* careful.
I've got a month-old blog covering bicycle-enabled car-free parenting among other things (including, by way of disclaimer, an Xtracycle accessory I'm bringing to market): http://todd.cleverchimp.com/blog/
Public Transportation? Ain't no such animal 'round these parts!
Originally Posted by recursive
I'm already familiar with the Cleverchimp blog--it's already been a great source of info and inspiration. The Peapod/Bobike seat is already on my shopping list. (I'll probably spring for a Stokemonkey at some point, too, assuming I figure out how we're going to pay for day care first!)
I assume you're also referring to the trailer seen in some of the blog pics? I had been wondering what brand that was--I'll look into it now.
Last edited by Farley; 08-02-05 at 05:18 PM.
I am not car-free, but with my 4 y-o daughter I try to "car-minimize." We do the trail-a-bike, or walk whenever we can, or take public transportation. Then when it is bad weather (raining, too hot, too cold), or too far away, we drive. That way, we don't deprive her of opportunities because of my preference for cycling, and she learns that we usually ride bikes and it's fun. If you impose a 100% car-free lifestyle, particularly if you do not reside in an urban environment where most services are easily reachable by walking or public transportation, then you run the risk of making the car-free choice too onerous ("we can't go the party because it's raining") and the child is more likely to reject the values you are trying to teach.
Yup, I'm trying to car-minimize now too. Got two teenage girls and a hubby that commutes in our Honda Civic. Also have a Toyota minivan which the girls will be driving (one's getting her license soon). To avoid getting another car, I am trying to bike as much as possible to work and run errands. Got a trailer (Burley flatbed) too so I can pick-up large items if there's no car available and to take my doggie for rides to the dogpark in the next town over. It's really impossible to make my entire family go car-free... but I'm personally trying to at least take a step in the right direction.
My hat's off to those of you who have been able to go totally car-free.
I'd advice you to buy a Peg Perego Primo Viaggio car seat and a corresponding bike connection system in The Netherlands. This allows you to transport children between 4,5 kg (6 weeks) and 15 kg (± 3 years) on the back carrier of the bike in sleeping and sitting positions, either looking backward or foreward. This system is promoted as 'bicycle arm chair', to reflect the luxury compared to ordinary bike seats. In comparison with the alternative 'car seat in trailer', this is preferable, because:
1) it has springs
2) you can always hear the child, and easily touch it when it needs your attention; so more contact between parent and child)
3) trailers have no special connectors for car seats
4) trailers weigh more and require more space on the road and parking place
5) after the ride the quick release system allows you to detach the seat in a few seconds
6) if you need a car seat anyway, this multifunctional system is relatively cheap.
You need to get a book on a baby's first year. Transportation is the least of your worries. If breastfed, the kid will be up every 2 hours. It won't develop diurnal patterns until about 6 months, then it needs two naps a day until at least 1. Before solid food, almost everytime it eats it poops. It develops separation anxiety at around 8 months and doesn't really let go of it until way into its second year of life. If you have a kid like mine who hated the car seat until he got turned around at 1 yr. you're in for a helluva ride. You have to drag bottles, snacks, diapers, wipes, CPR instructions, napkins, and an extra change of clothes everywhere you go.
Finally at 1 year 9 months he wised up and figured out that the Burley was a pretty good thing, but only if Bear, Big Bear, Puppy, and Louie came along.
Kind of a tangent, but it bothers me when people refer to babies as "it".
Yeah, but you can't really use "he"/"she"/"him"/"her" unless you know the gender. What strikes me as odd is that within my lifetime English has developed a politeness problem with the gender of third person singular, similar to the social respect level problem that some other languages have with second person singular.
Originally Posted by recursive
I think it odd too. It gets odder when you ask someone to explain their problem. Its not just third person singular. I would phrase your response "..... unless you know the sex of the baby." if you meant gender to be an adjective describing the baby rather than the word. I sometimes refer to babies as it even when I know the sex. There is a certain developmental stage where the gender seems appropriate and before that they are it. Someday we may hear people say things like "Did you see the fish that got away? He or she must have been a foot long!". Or worse we may acquire more gender words like "El and La". Will it be El bicycle or La bicycle?
Originally Posted by Platy
Tossed some weight
Uh, by now you're thinking about the next kid... Ok, truthfully I'm just looking for excuses to post my new picture!
I have a two year old daughter, been car free for 6 years and do not even have a driver's license. Basaic, infants it will be diffcult, due to safety issues. They are fragile and as a whole cannot handle the justle. I started with basic trips at 8 months old, once she was sitting standing, and holding herself well. I would say a bike trailer is the way to go, my DAUGHTER loves her "bike", and her bus when it is to far to travel by bike. And how many children get excited about a car ride? Anyhoo, Bicycle trailers range from 19 pounds to the massive 38 pound schwinn. I have never had a burley, I was tempted but not in my price range. We have had a Pacific Cycle INstep that we bought for 80.00 at Toy'R'US Online, it is lightweight, comfort, spacious, and pretty hardy. We also had the massive schwinn that has a roll bar, and cost almost 100.00 more, it has not held up well compare to the other bike trailer. Anyway, I bike 3 to 4 mile with the trailers in Winter through Summer. For those with comments on breastfeeding, I just weaned my two year old, who exclusive nursed for a year. It is called a breastpump, throw a bottle with express milk, and a couple of wbaby wipes, and some diapers, and a warm blanket, and some snacks into the bike trailer. And you are all ready to go.
Last edited by savagefreedom; 10-27-05 at 07:00 AM.