Biking with babies

After a bit of initial research on biking with babies, I was somewhat resigned to spending the first nine to twelve months postpartum traveling either by foot, p-trans, or car, except for the rare occasions I ventured out without baby.  The idea that a young infant could not be safely transported by bicycle, when we give no thought to putting them in cars, seemed quite ludicrous to me, but I couldn’t find much information on safe options.

Then I saw the “Cycling with Children” post on Simply Bike, which inspired me to dig a little deeper.  The author and I are both pregnant with our firsts, and we’re at about the same stage in our pregnancies.  S linked to an article in Momentum magazine, which featured this great quote:

Todd Litman, founder and executive director of the Victoria Transportation Policy Institute. who started cycling with his oldest son when he was just days old, addressed the risk.  He said: “There is no reason why, if a child is able to be carried in a car, they shouldn’t be able to be carried in a bicycle trailer.  A lot of people overlook the risks and stresses associated with driving, but make a big deal about bicycling.”

Finally, a voice of reason!  Now the question is not if, but how.  So far, these resources seem helpful:

And there is a decent chance a new bike purchase may be in our future, as most sources recommend some form of cargo bike rather than just adding a trailer to a regular bicycle.

Three cargo bikes I’m drooling over:

I’m not 100% sold on a cargo bike over a trailer, and I still have lots of questions, but at least I’m more hopeful that baby and I can get around by bike this fall, which makes this mama-to-be quite happy 🙂

Update (March 2, 2013)
Check out these posts to see our current set-up for biking now that our little dude is part of the picture:

Biking before the storm

Given the prediction for more winter precipitation headed our way, I made the most of the balmy temps (in the 40s) and improved road conditions to make some trips by bicycle over the weekend.  Over the course of three days, I visited the Y, the library, the farmers’ market, Meskerem Ethiopian restaurant, and church.

I’ve been riding Bub much more than Baby Jake this winter.  Bub’s slightly wider tires and overall geometry feel a bit more stable when riding over questionable patches, and the regular pedals allow me to comfortably wear boots or my Birk clogs, which keep my toes much warmer than the cycling shoes.

I didn’t want Baby Jake to feel left out, so I pulled him out for Saturday’s excursions.  Strangely, the ride didn’t feel that much faster to me than Bub, though the speed, or lack there of, may have been due more to the operator than the machine.

In addition to biking, I filled Friday with yogurt-making, tortilla-making (post on this coming soon), and ice skating.  When I told a coworker earlier in the week that I was planning to go ice skating, she replied, “Can you do that while you’re pregnant?”  And so it begins — and she knows nothing about the biking 😉

Of recent bicycle escapades

A small snowfall that melted and then froze into a nice slippery layer, followed a few days later by freezing rain, made our streets rather bike unfriendly for a full week.  St. Louis makes no attempt to plow or salt anything other than the biggest roads, leaving many of the ideal cycling routes treacherous for bikers, pedestrians, and drivers alike.

Fortunately, things warmed up a bit toward the end of last week and into the weekend, and we were ready to roll (albeit with caution for those icy patches that remain where the sun don’t shine) on Saturday and Sunday.  I ran a few errands by bike on Saturday, followed with biking to church on Sunday.

Both rides were lovely, with the only treacherous spot being the icy patches in our alley.  On Sunday, I encountered the obligatory jerk driver on The Hill.  He was quite outraged that I delayed his trip by 30-60 seconds for a 1 1/2 block stretch where there was not enough room for him to pass me safely.

His tirade included the oh-so-helpful information that I was operating my bike illegally — that the law* said I could ride no more than two feet from parked cars — and HE KNEW because he raced bikes for 30 years.

Well, Mr. Jerk picked the wrong lady to quote “cycling law” to, but I really wasn’t able to get a word in edgewise.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t carrying my handy-dandy, ready-to-hand-out copy of Missouri Bicycle Statutes.  (I have copies, and I’ll be ready next time.)

Realizing that Mr. Jerk was not in a state to make this encounter remotely positive, I eventually biked away, with two thoughts in my head:

  1. “If he thought that riding within two feet of parked cars (i.e., squarely within the deadly “door zone”) was a safe cycling practice, it’s a bit of a wonder that he survived 30 years of cycling.”  His comment was not surprising, as I see plenty of the spandex-clad crowd riding in this unsafe position on a regular basis.
  2. “Small penis.”  Sometimes this is the only logical conclusion when one encounters an unreasonable male motorist who thinks he owns the road.  This thought, combined with some deep breathing, did much to help restore the equilibrium of my nice Sunday morning ride.

* I have no idea where he pulled this from (okay, maybe I could take a guess 😉 ), but this is NOT a law in Missouri, nor is it a law anywhere else as far as I know.  If you think about how far a car door would swing out if suddenly opened, two feet is clearly not enough space.  I try to ride 4-5 feet from parked cars — you want to be out of the path of the door if it were to suddenly swing wide open AND confident enough in that distance and your position that you won’t swerve out into traffic should a door in fact open.

Better than Cash for Clunkers

I just read about Canada’s cool Retire Your Ride program that allows people to trade in their old, higher polluting car for a newer, somewhat less polluting car.  Hold up, wrong program!  Wrong country!

Actually, Canada’s program is much cooler than that — it helps reduce the number of vehicles on the road and encourage alternate means of transportation by providing vouchers for bicycles or public transportation.  Neat idea, eh?

Click on the link above to find out more about the program — you can even view the presentation in French, if that’s your thing.

This kind of makes me wish I were Canadian — depending on how today goes, maybe we’ll move there.


Bikes on board

Stopped for lunch at Wakonda State Park

Carrying the bikes on our trunk rack for long trips makes me very nervous, but I bit the bullet for our trip to Burlington, IA this weekend.  The bikes behaved very well on the trip, not much moving around back there at all, but they did put a dent in our MPG 😦  Not very aerodynamic.

Burlington riverfront

We started with a quick trip to Bickel’s for some rim tape and a back-up tube to (hopefully) solve my rear tire flat woes on BUB.

We arrived at my parents’, and I wasted no time reassembling my rear tire.  It seemed to be holding air, so we headed down to the Riverfront Farmers’ Market for sweet corn, eggplant, bell peppers, garlic, and farm fresh eggs.

Bluff overlooking the Mississippi in Burlington

We made it back to my parents’ just before the rain rolled in on Thursday night.

Given the gas mileage sacrifice, I was determined to ride these bikes A LOT while we were there.  Stay tuned for more of our bike Burlington adventures.