Shop Dads on Biking with Kids
Last Father’s Day we offered a list of our favorite Father’s Day gifts, but this year, we thought we’d do something a little different. So we put in a call to several dads at our dealer partners to find out what biking with kids is really like, why it’s so important, and how you can get started.
The Best Father’s Day Gift
Biking is great for families for any number of practical reasons–as Brian of Red Lantern Bicycles told us, “It’s an easy way to get from point A to point B. It’s also usually the fastest…There is no need to wait for a train or find a schedule or try to find parking. It’s our own time and is the lowest hassle.” But the main reason most of our shop dads gave us for biking with their kids? So they could spend more time together. Phil of Wheel Happy Bicycle Shops says he started for precisely that reason–because “I loved having my girls spend the day with me”–and our president, Ryan Zagata, says, “95% of the time when I look back, they’re smiling and often even laughing. It’s arguably one of my favorite family moments.”
Pros and Cons of Biking with Kids
As rewarding as it can be, biking with kids does have its downsides, so it’s important to take appropriate precautions.
Wheel Happy’s Phil reminds us that your child may suddenly need to use the bathroom. Because it will take a few minutes to find a rack, lock up your bike, and unstrap your child–never mind to actually find a bathroom in a place like New York City–consider a diaper if your little one is still potty training, or a good nursery rhyme distraction plan for the times they’ll have to hold it. On the other hand, don’t let a potential accident deter you from giving your kids water. Ryan of Brooklyn Bicycle Co. encourages everyone to keep their kids hydrated, especially when riding long distances.
There’s also a question of attire: your little one will be subject to a strong breeze, and as s/he’s not the one pedaling, his or her body won’t be warming itself the way yours does. Good rule of thumb, then, from Red Lantern Bicycles’ Brian: When biking with kids, dress them more warmly than you dress yourself.
Finally, we can’t ignore that you’re surrounded by traffic. Rain can make for low visibility and slippery streets, and under those conditions, you should always use your best judgement as to whether a bike is the safest mode of transport.
So yes, there are pros and cons, but as Jose of Joe Mamma Cycles points out, introducing your child to “the freedom that you can get only from a bicycle” is totally worth it.
How to Get Started
Our shop dads want to get more families riding, so they’ve got a Father’s Day gift for you: some tips to get you started biking with your kids.
- Be confident. “If you are stressed out about the ride, your child will be, too,” says Jose of Joe Mamma. “Relax and your child will have a blast.” If you’re not quite there yet–don’t worry. You can practice in a park until you feel ready to hit the road.
- Stick to bike lanes. Says Brian of Red Lantern, “It may not be the fastest or the most direct route, but bikes lanes are always the safest.”
- Be a buffer. If your child is old enough to ride his or her own bike, be sure to ride between him or her and the traffic. (Think the 7 o’clock position.) Doesn’t sound pretty, but if one of you is going to get hit, you’ll want it to be you.
All of our dealers also strongly recommended rear child seats over any other. Brian of Red Lantern says the bike will handle better, and Jose of Joe Mamma says, “Front seats do not provide any protection for your child in the case of a fall. Traffic in North America does not provide the respect or room to comfortably ride with a front carrier.” In case you’re looking for a Father’s Day gift for the bike dad on your list, Jose specifically recommends Mamma Cangura seats, as he says “they meet the highest standards, are easy to install, and can easily be transferred from bike to bike.” If you prefer a trailer, Brooklyn Bicycle Co.’s Ryan loves the Burley D’Lite two-seater because it’s super light and converts to a stroller.