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5 reasons biking with kids isn’t as awesome as we make it look

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These smiles can quickly turn to tears.

Last week while climbing at Rocks and Ropes, I met a Bicycle Tucson reader who comments on stories now and then.

Somehow the conversation turned to children and biking and how it can be a pain. He said he was surprised by that because all the posts about here on the site talked about how much fun and how fulfilling it was. It reminded me of a recent study about all the positive things people post on Facebook making other people depressed because they feel like they don’t have an exciting life. Of course I’ve edited what I share here and riding with kids isn’t always rainbows and unicorns.

Here’s my list of the 5 things that make biking with kids a challenge:

1. The fighting

On our cargo bikes the kids are close to each other, much closer than in the car. Inevitably fights and crying occur. A couple weeks ago we were biking home from school and the kids just started pestering each other. Luci was poking Truman and he started pulling her hair. Tears and screaming ensued. The solution? I pulled the bike over onto the sidewalk and separated the kids by pulling Luci out of the bike and we started walking home. A quarter mile later the children decided they could keep their hands to themselves and we were able to pedal home without another incident.

We have two different cargo bikes that we can take the kids in. One is an Xtracycle where the kids sit behind me and either face each other or sit one behind the other. The second cargo bike is a CETMA Cargo bakfiets style cargo bike where they are in a box in front of me and they sit next to each other. There tends to be fewer issues on the bakfiets bike because I can see what they are up to and they aren’t focused on each other.

2. The slowness

Biking to work with the kids increases the amount of time it takes on the road by about 45 percent. When you have a meeting to get to, it can add to the morning stress.

3. Sleeping

There’s something about a bike that lulls kids to sleep and while a sleeping kid is usually a good thing, it’s not as great when they are slumped over in the bike seat looking like they have passed out.

4. Feeling more vulnerable

Parents are inherently protective of their kids. We do our best to keep them safe and as a parent who commutes with my kids I take every precaution to keep us safe. I select safe routes, use lights to attract attention and take the lane when it is necessary, but it’s hard not to feel more vulnerable when you’ve got kids on the bike.

5. Little bladders

Kids have tiny bladders and when the urge to pee happens there isn’t much time to get to a bathroom. We’ve had accidents on the bike or had to pee in a vacant lot or a friend’s backyard.

If you ride with kids, what’s on your list?

3 comments
Tom Murphy1
Tom Murphy1

I started my daughter in an I-bert seat on my handlebars, soon she got old enough to change gears and apply the brakes. First time was really a surprise. Then she graduated to an Adams Trail a Bike. Early on she would lean the opposite way that I needed her to and slowed down turns. Glad I stuck with it. She's 9 now and my biking companion.

Red Star
Red Star

Somebody one posited to Red Star that the minivan exists to "zone" the children. Could be...

CodyM48
CodyM48

Bahaha! I laughed out loud when I read the title of this post.

I'm a little sad, but not that surprised, to hear that the bicycle doesn't solve the age-old "he's on my side!" sibling squabble, as it had seemed to do.