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Old 06-10-08, 12:57 PM   #1
deburn
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Child-friendly bike paths in the Boston area

Hi everyone! I have a 4 y/o son who just this year has started cycling and seems to love it (he only stays with me part-time).

We havent gone on any rides longer than a mile, partly because the only safe place I can think of to take him is Memorial Drive when it's closed to cars on Sunday evenings and by the Charles River in the Watertown (?) area - and also because my goal is for us to do outdoor things together that he enjoys, so distance really isnt important to me at this point

I think the Esplanade is too crowded for him to not get intimidated with the fast riders, bladers etc. Same thing with the Minuteman Trail.

He saw other kids on TABs recently and liked the idea so after reading this sub-forum I picked one up on CL for 50 bucks!

Any suggestions on kid-friendly places to ride? I live in Cambridge. fyi I'll be using an old Raleigh mtn bike.

Also any suggestions for someone who's new to TABs? I have good balance and confidence on my own but not sure what's it like to ride with the TAB + deal with my any nervousness my son might have.

Thanks!
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Old 06-10-08, 01:31 PM   #2
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I have no path suggestions.

It is not too different with the TAB. It feels kind of like someone is tugging on your bike. Probably the biggest thing is for your son to not wiggle too much. You'll feel it and it can affect your steering. It is not too bad, but you would not want it to happen in a tight situation. It works better when they understand that they can't safely jump all around back there.

Take is slow in the beginning and both of you will build confidence. My biggest worry at the younger ages is that they will fall off. It has not happened yet but it is my biggest worry. I frequently ask how my younger ones are doing because their hands get tired. As soon as they say that they are, we take a little break. I take the trail and distance into consideration so that they have enough in them to hold on for the trip. To give you an idea of distance you can do, my just turned 4 year old can do 10 miles with 1-2 breaks on unpaved paths\trails. Last year I would have to rotate them.
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Old 06-10-08, 04:13 PM   #3
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How far are you willing to travel? There is a MUP starting in Ayer and runs 11 miles up to Nashua NH. Along the way in Pepperel there is an ice cream shop etc. it's a gentle easy ride but a bit of a haul for you.
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Old 06-10-08, 04:23 PM   #4
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I have no path suggestions.

It is not too different with the TAB. It feels kind of like someone is tugging on your bike. Probably the biggest thing is for your son to not wiggle too much. You'll feel it and it can affect your steering. It is not too bad, but you would not want it to happen in a tight situation. It works better when they understand that they can't safely jump all around back there.

Take is slow in the beginning and both of you will build confidence. My biggest worry at the younger ages is that they will fall off. It has not happened yet but it is my biggest worry. I frequently ask how my younger ones are doing because their hands get tired. As soon as they say that they are, we take a little break. I take the trail and distance into consideration so that they have enough in them to hold on for the trip. To give you an idea of distance you can do, my just turned 4 year old can do 10 miles with 1-2 breaks on unpaved paths\trails. Last year I would have to rotate them.
Thanks Masiman, good to hear another parent's experiences
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Old 06-10-08, 04:27 PM   #5
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How far are you willing to travel? There is a MUP starting in Ayer and runs 11 miles up to Nashua NH. Along the way in Pepperel there is an ice cream shop etc. it's a gentle easy ride but a bit of a haul for you.
Thanks Spartan112, a 2 hour round trip just to ride the MUP would be difficult to justify, more so given the price of gas!! but I'll keep it in mind if we happen to be that way
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Old 06-10-08, 05:32 PM   #6
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DW Field is closed to vehicular traffic on Sunday mornings. They have a loop around a pond. IT is close to the rt 24 exits in Brockton, MA.
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Old 06-11-08, 07:12 AM   #7
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if you can spare time to be with your son on a weekday, the Minuteman is generally quiet outside the standard commuting hours, though I agree that it can be a zoo on the weekends.

Similarly, if you can square the time to get out to the Middlesex Fells on a weekday, you have the option of doing both mountain biking trips and just nature walks in the outdoors. On a weekend, though, the mountain bike loop is also pretty crowded.

Otherwise, you could look at the Fresh Pond Bike Path. That tends to be the least trafficked of all of the local bike paths, as it's relatively out of the way and its utility as a commuter artery is limited.
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Old 06-11-08, 08:22 AM   #8
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if you can spare time to be with your son on a weekday, the Minuteman is generally quiet outside the standard commuting hours, though I agree that it can be a zoo on the weekends.

Similarly, if you can square the time to get out to the Middlesex Fells on a weekday, you have the option of doing both mountain biking trips and just nature walks in the outdoors. On a weekend, though, the mountain bike loop is also pretty crowded.

Otherwise, you could look at the Fresh Pond Bike Path. That tends to be the least trafficked of all of the local bike paths, as it's relatively out of the way and its utility as a commuter artery is limited.
Thanks Spokenword, I had forgotten about Fresh Pond and I didnt even think about going offroad. I've been to the Fells a few times but to hike but riding on a reasonably flat trail sounds like a lot of fun and my son loves hiking as well

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DW Field is closed to vehicular traffic on Sunday mornings. They have a loop around a pond. IT is close to the rt 24 exits in Brockton, MA.
Thanks the_doctor, I didnt know about DW Field
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Old 06-11-08, 08:33 AM   #9
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I use a TAB on the roads in SE MA. VERY few bike trails here. My son has been on it since w`he was 4.
+1 to Masiman. also ANY state or local park is suitable for the TAB if you do not want to ride on the road.
We use ours for around town errends. Going to school and such.

Cars see the TAb and are very forgiving. excercise plus kid time. people get it.

Also now he is six and we are doing 20 mile club rides with the TAB.

Last edited by st0ut; 06-11-08 at 08:36 AM. Reason: forgot
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Old 06-11-08, 07:42 PM   #10
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I have taken my now 6 yr old daughter on the Minuteman Bikepath on a tag-a-long for the last couple of years since she was 4. It can get a bit hairy on the weekends between the rollerbladers and the cyclists flying by, but the weekdays and week evenings are pretty safe and even on the weekends, most people respect a young kid on a tag-a-long. The stretch from Lexington to Bedford might be a bit less crowded than Lexington to Cambridge.
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Old 06-11-08, 07:50 PM   #11
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st0ut and fatdad, thanks for the replies and it's relieving to know that cars respect kids on tagalongs! The easiest way for me is to ride down to the Esplanade (I live near Kendall Sq) and I'm concerned about traffic, but weekends should see much less traffic and the Cambridge side of the Charles River is a lot less crowded.

I didnt think of state parks so thanks for that tip too!

I have my son this weekend, so tomorrow I'm going to take the TAB out on my own, I'm expecting some strange looks!
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