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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 01-02-13, 12:02 PM   #1
ephin
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Anyone experience holier-than-thou scoldings when tandem cycling with their children?

As you can see by the included pictures, I tandem with my little ones. They're 6yo and 4yo now. When I first got the tamden, they were 5yo and 3yo. Pre-tamden, I'd take them both in the Chariot trailor (meaning they've both grown up with cycling). I'm always most careful with my precious cargo. I feel not only is it quality, bonding time, healthy developmentally, but also they can learn safe and proper cycling.

We usually get nothing but smiles and thumbs-up from passersby. However, 3x now, I've been loudly admonished, in front of my kids, for riding on public roads. All 3 times, it was a woman yelling at me out of the passenger window of either a minivan or SUV (so I'm picturing a mom in there with at least her husband as driver and possibly also her little ones - though I don't know this for sure as I'm focusing on the road). Now, we always wear helmets, obey the rules of the road, and are well illuminated (flashers front and back most of the time - always if low light). Our usual jaunts are to either of 2 playgrounds in the neighborhood. When I'm looking for more exercise, I take them to either of 2 very nice parks both within cycling distance of our home. We've done over 15 miles round trip multiple times. Over 20 miles twice. As you can see in the pictures, we do this year round and dress accordlingly.

Now I can certainly understand how/why a non-cyclist might consider this dangerous or unsafe. But I would argue it's more a position of ignorance and/or opinion on parenting style. I guess what I find most irritating is the being scolded right in front of my kids without a chance to state my position / educate. Of course that doesn't (and hasn't) stopped me from discussing this with my kids. I let it go and don't let it spoil our time, but after 3 occurances, this is not just some random whacko opinion. Am I missing something? Just wondering if any of you other family tamdeners have experienced anything similar.
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Old 01-02-13, 12:10 PM   #2
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Lots of ignorant people out there. When my kids were younger I used tomtake them out for rides in the Burley trailer. There was almost always some person ready with a stupid remark. Fortunately the thumbs up outnumbered the thumbs down by a margin of 10:1. Enjoy the ride and ride safely!
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Old 01-02-13, 12:17 PM   #3
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I have never been scolded while riding with my kids who are now in their 40's, but I have been growled at from time to time to get off the road. Many people believe that bicycles belong exclusively on bike paths and are unaware of the laws in their own states which, I think without exception, consider a bicycle to be a "vehicle" with all of the rights and responsibilities of all other road sharing vehicles.

One Idea would be to submit an article to your local newspaper in the hopes of educating your neighbors on what you are doing. Another way of thinking about this is that at some point your kids will have to learn that there are uninformed people in the world who while vocal are not always right.
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Old 01-02-13, 12:27 PM   #4
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Smile and wave. It frustrates them to no end.
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Old 01-02-13, 12:28 PM   #5
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... One Idea would be to submit an article to your local newspaper in the hopes of educating your neighbors on what you are doing ...
+1
I think this is the best approach for turning a negative experience(s) into a positive one for both you and your kids while providing education. Local papers are always looking for a story and kids on tandems are rare enough that it would a good one.
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Old 01-02-13, 12:37 PM   #6
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I have never been scolded while riding with my kids who are now in their 40's, but I have been growled at from time to time to get off the road. Many people believe that bicycles belong exclusively on bike paths and are unaware of the laws in their own states which, I think without exception, consider a bicycle to be a "vehicle" with all of the rights and responsibilities of all other road sharing vehicles.

One Idea would be to submit an article to your local newspaper in the hopes of educating your neighbors on what you are doing. Another way of thinking about this is that at some point your kids will have to learn that there are uninformed people in the world who while vocal are not always right.
You last point - "at some point your kids will have to learn that there are uninformed people in the world who while vocal are not always right" - is one I've absolutely considered. I've had brief discussions with my kids about this (keeping it simple and age appropriate). While they cannot yet appreciate much of this, I do believe they are absolutely learning much about the world through me and modeling of my behavior (including my social behavior). Perhaps it's a good thing these admonishments are "drive-by" ones and not longer encounters as it might be quite difficult to stay civil were they to continue to berate me in front of my children despite an attept to educate.
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Old 01-02-13, 12:39 PM   #7
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Smile and wave. It frustrates them to no end.
What he said... for any and all on-road encounters.

As for "try to educate them"; good luck with that. You might feel better for having made the effort, but it has been my experience that reasoning with unreasonable people is a low-yield proposition. That said, your message might resonate with the reasonable readers so advocacy is always a worthwhile endeavor and sets a positive example for your kids. Just don't get too upset if your target audience -- those who yell from cars -- turn a blind eye to your message.
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Old 01-02-13, 02:51 PM   #8
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Smile and wave. It frustrates them to no end.
I agree. We never ran into that with our kids but in other encounters unyielding friendliness is our response. Once when confronted by a particularly irate driver at a stop light my wife just replied "God bless you" as we pedaled off. I am very careful when I wave that it is very clear I am waving all five fingers. A member in a local club had a friendly wave misinterpreted - escalating the confrontation.
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Old 01-02-13, 03:36 PM   #9
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There is , of course, some risk involved in bicycling on the public streets and that risk is often magnified in the minds of those who haven't tried it. There are some people who believe that exposing your child to almost any risk is a reprehensible act. I feel sorry for them and their children, but perceived safety and security is huge in the minds of some folks.

My son and daughter grew up road biking (might get hit by a car), mountain biking (might fall headfirst onto a rock), fly fishing (might fall into the stream and be swept away never to be seen again), backpacking (might fall victim to some medical emergency far from any medical center), and talking to strangers (most of whom were not nearly as strange as the couple who admonished me for allowing my kids to run barefoot in the playground.) Luckily for me, as adults they both are glad they got those opportunities.

And yes, I would have been devastated and probably never forgiven myself if either of them had been seriously hurt. But I'm pretty sure the most dangerous activity in which they engaged was one that almost all of us consider to have an acceptable risk involved, riding in a car.
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Old 01-02-13, 05:06 PM   #10
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ephin... You've had some good advice here, but I want to say something a little different.

The fact that you involve your kids in fun adventures, the fact that you talk to them about rude people, the fact that you care about their safety shows that you are trying to be a good Dad.

Please accept my compliments!
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Old 01-02-13, 05:30 PM   #11
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ephin... You've had some good advice here, but I want to say something a little different.

The fact that you involve your kids in fun adventures, the fact that you talk to them about rude people, the fact that you care about their safety shows that you are trying to be a good Dad.

Please accept my compliments!
I agree and will add that your children know it even if they don't think about it yet.
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Old 01-02-13, 06:08 PM   #12
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And in some cases the disapproving individual wouldn't hesitate to get on the cellphone with his/her kids in the back set before leaving the driveway. Best to wave and otherwise ignore; good learning opportunity for the kids.
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Old 01-02-13, 06:11 PM   #13
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I'm in Pennsylvania too (Philadelphia area) and have had a similar thing happen once or twice when we were riding our tandem with our son in his Burley trailer. Since we've switched to riding with him on the triplet (he just turned eight) we haven't had any further incidents, although I wouldn't be surprised if it happens again at some point.

I do kinda miss having the trailer behind us, as at least I felt people were a bit more considerate when they thought there was a child in the trailer. With the triplet they just see us as a regular road bike and probably don't give us the extra consideration.
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Old 01-02-13, 06:33 PM   #14
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I do kinda miss having the trailer behind us, as at least I felt people were a bit more considerate when they thought there was a child in the trailer. With the triplet they just see us as a regular road bike and probably don't give us the extra consideration.
Our kids are grown up, but we're still pretty goofy, and we sometimes take our small dogs with us in our trailer towed behind our tandem.

I have definitely noticed that drivers give us a wider berth when we have the trailer. I'd love to see the looks on their faces if they knew that there were "just" dogs in there!

I wish we could get the same effect without the trailer, because it's a little like towing a parachute!

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Old 01-02-13, 11:12 PM   #15
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Always someone out there that has an issue with folks having fun!
Have ridden with sons on our tandem and with grandkids.
One of our grandsons now is a licensed racer. He's told me "thanks grandpa . . ."
Pretty soon our great-grandkids will be riding too!
Pedal on TWOgether!
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Old 01-03-13, 12:00 AM   #16
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The woman clearly likes the idea of endangering the life of any cyclist she comes near but finds herself betwixt and between when there are tiny children's lives involved. It upsets her normal routine and so she flies-off-the-handle.
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Old 01-04-13, 10:10 PM   #17
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We have done extensive touring with both kids since each turned 6. Now they are almost 8 and 12 and we use my oldest as a stoker and youngest behind on a Burley TAB. I did once have someone say "I hope you have good insurance" as we rode by. That left me feeling really flat for a long time... You always seen to be caught off guard when this happens and they are a quarter mile away when you realize what you SHOULD have said if you thought of it quick enough.
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Old 01-05-13, 02:21 AM   #18
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Kids in the van hear their ignorant parents yelling at cyclists, then later in life the grown up kids take it further. Nip it.

Legally speaking, in some states the abuse you are receiving is interpreted as harassment and/or road rage. If you are in an area with those applicable laws, perhaps get their license number (and maybe a snapshot from your phone or camera if they linger long enough) and file a complaint with the police.

Hopefully those moms will share that story and spread the gist of the lesson.
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Old 01-05-13, 02:46 AM   #19
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I fully agree that a wave and a smile is almost always the best answer. There is also a growing number of riders who have taken to afixing a digital video cam to their handlebars and some also put one on their rear rack. These little digital wonders can be had for as little as $30 each. Just turn them on just before you pedal off and let them roll up the adventure. If you get harrassed on the ride, you can decide if the event is serious enough to warrant a stop at the next police/sheriff's office or to pull over and place a call to 911 if it is really bad. In the big picture, it is important to realize that many folks have grown up with Twitter, FaceBook, Reality TV, etc., and as such they actually think they have a right and a need to express their view on everything to everyone. Explaining their bad behavior doesn't excuse it of course.
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Old 01-11-13, 04:12 PM   #20
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If you do have time for a conversation at traffic lights you could say that if she(the motorist and other motorists) gives you a metre (yard) of clearance when passing and does not cut in sharply when overtaking you will be perfectly safe!

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Old 01-13-13, 03:55 PM   #21
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The sight of little ones riding or being towed along in New York traffic is unsettling to most people around here. They seem to feel that this type of riding belongs solely in an enclosed park. But I've heard nothing mean-spirited while riding in the bike lanes, just some mild inquiries while stopped at lights about "Aren't you worried about cars?" followed by "Yes, I make sure to look out for them. Thanks for your concern".
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Old 01-13-13, 04:06 PM   #22
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time to teach your kids the one fingered salute
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