Our summer series about transitioning kids from being cargo hauled by parents to pedaling on their own power was born a couple of weeks ago when I wrote about luring parents back to bikes to get more kids riding. I loved all of the comments; they sparked such a rich discussion among parents and non-parents alike about riding with (or as) kids.
The discussion also got me thinking about how we’ve handled our personal cycling transition. In three short years we’ve gone from hauling two kids on two Xtracycles (and many times, two kids on one Xtracycle), to one kid on an Xtracycle and one kid on their own bike, to both kids on their own bikes (and lots of combos in between). The change hasn’t happened overnight nor without a little or a lot (depending on the day) of pain.
Sara, whose comment made me thankful I live in a bike friendly community, lives in New Haven, CT and rides a bakfiets with her twin soon-to-be-8-year-olds, and an Xtracycle with her preschooler. We had a hard time switching to a self-powered kid mode when we tackled it one at a time; she’s facing this transition with twins!
Sara asked “what if kids are just TOO big for cargo bike options YET the community where they live is not a place where they can truly ride on their own?”
Good question and one that we hope all of you can weigh in on. Sara can’t haul two 8-year-olds around in her bakfiets anymore because the whole combo (kids and bike) is just too bulky and heavy. But the car-centric nature of where she lives means she’s not ready to turn the kids loose directly on their own bikes. She needs something cargo worthy, that won’t kill her and will help delay the inevitable day when the boys will have to deal with speeding cars.
Is there anything wrong with parents wanting their cargo bikes to contain the kids and protect them? When kids are cargo, we relish a certain amount of comfort in the cocoon of an Xtracycle Snapdeck, Madsen bucket or a bakfiet or Sorte box. And it’s scary to think of our precious cargo leaving the cocoon and pedaling under their own power.
The mean streets have hazards like cars and potholes and train tracks. But we’re rational people, right? We know it’s not really that dangerous to ride a bike. We do it every day and there’s no reason our kids can’t too.
When they’re ready.
How do you know when your kid is ready to ride in the road? I don’t think there’s a magic age or a rigid rule for kids road-riding readiness. It really depends on the kid and their personality.
It also depends on the bike friendliness of the community and the parent’s personality.
We’ll look at those tomorrow so stay tuned.