The Chainlink

Greetings Chainlink!  Longtime rider, first time poster.  My wife and I are lucky enough to have welcomed our first child into the world about 12 weeks ago and she's just started daycare.  Until this point I've been a year-round cycle commuter, from the near west side to the Union Station area.  Now that Jr's off to daycare my commute is a drive to daycare and then parking near the El stop- functional but sorely lacking in fun.  When the weather improves I'd like to start hauling her to daycare in a trailer (or cargo bike), stashing said trailer at a storage space I have nearby then riding to work.  I have a lot of questions about all sorts of things, from age considerations to gear.  So in some order:

 

- how old is old enough to ride?  What I've seen online is that most seat and trailer manufacturers recommend waiting until the kid is old enough to wear a helmet and hold their head up.  How old is that, in your experience?

- Is it feasible to start at an earlier age by working a car seat into the mix?

- what do people like as far as trailers and cargo bikes go?  I've read the posts in the cargo bikes section and I understand that the view there is that trailers are bad news.  They are, however, much cheaper options and given that almost our entire ride in the trailer will be either on side streets or streets with bike lanes it's somewhat less of a concern for me.  Also I've got this sweet Surly which I got last summer and I need to ride it.

- Any experience/insight relating to mounting car seats in trailers/cargo bikes?

- Anything else I'm overlooking as I consider my options?

Thanks!

Rob

 

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oops-Sorry for the hastily written bad there and and punctuation!  That's also we not WE.

I think that the views of the smaller kids in car seats in the cargo bikes on bakfiets en meer are interesting. We did get a maxi-cosi( a kind of seat but when they say maxi-cosi there they pretty much mean any baby car seat) and used it with our third in the cargo bike a bit but very strapped in on the floor backwards as you see in Bakfiets en meer. We did not really have enough room for it and two other kids and mostly used the bobike mini once the smallest was about 8-9 mos. A nice thing about a baby in front is you get to visit with them a little while you ride but I think the back seats work just fine. The i-bert reclines a bit more than the bobike mini. You child's daycare might let you stash your trailer there when the time comes which would save you the extra trip!

Good Luck! As Gin mentions there are lots of parents out - the Kiddical Mass in Palmer Square (which Ash organizes) is a fun place to meet riding families in one place in winter. You could just come and meet some folks and check out some of their rigs. Kevin at Boulevard Bikes and Justyna at Rapid Transit are parents that ride and they would also probably have some great suggestions.  Hope to see you out on the road- J.
jennifer james said:

Hi Rob- 

Congratulations. We've ridden with a couple of different kinds of seats on the front and back with the guys when they were really small. WE started around 9 ms. Our youngest is a two year old now. We had good luck with a bobike mini seat, iberts look good too. Gin has a cool seat she got at Boulevard Bikes with a hood- we used a trailer but I think she has good advice on those especially in winter. We ride out from the Nr. West Side most of the itme and their are lots of quiet ways to gt in and out to up by Union Station.

Thanks everybody for all of the great suggestions and links.  Seems like the obvious solution is for me to move the family to New Portland (hey come on, I grew up in Maine) since it's a blogging biker's paradise!  Regardless of what the Mrs and I come up with it probably won't happen until April due to temp and surface quality concerns, but I'll update here eventually.

Best,

Rob


jennifer james said:

oops-Sorry for the hastily written bad there and and punctuation!  That's also we not WE.

I think that the views of the smaller kids in car seats in the cargo bikes on bakfiets en meer are interesting. We did get a maxi-cosi( a kind of seat but when they say maxi-cosi there they pretty much mean any baby car seat) and used it with our third in the cargo bike a bit but very strapped in on the floor backwards as you see in Bakfiets en meer. We did not really have enough room for it and two other kids and mostly used the bobike mini once the smallest was about 8-9 mos. A nice thing about a baby in front is you get to visit with them a little while you ride but I think the back seats work just fine. The i-bert reclines a bit more than the bobike mini. You child's daycare might let you stash your trailer there when the time comes which would save you the extra trip!

Good Luck! As Gin mentions there are lots of parents out - the Kiddical Mass in Palmer Square (which Ash organizes) is a fun place to meet riding families in one place in winter. You could just come and meet some folks and check out some of their rigs. Kevin at Boulevard Bikes and Justyna at Rapid Transit are parents that ride and they would also probably have some great suggestions.  Hope to see you out on the road- J.
jennifer james said:

Hi Rob- 

Congratulations. We've ridden with a couple of different kinds of seats on the front and back with the guys when they were really small. WE started around 9 ms. Our youngest is a two year old now. We had good luck with a bobike mini seat, iberts look good too. Gin has a cool seat she got at Boulevard Bikes with a hood- we used a trailer but I think she has good advice on those especially in winter. We ride out from the Nr. West Side most of the itme and their are lots of quiet ways to gt in and out to up by Union Station.

Hi:

 

We started riding with our daughter at 3 months old as our dear friend, Christophe Wallace, outfitted our Burley Solo Trailer to fit her infant  car seat.  She was snug and secure.  Chris works at REI and co-owns creative changes in Oak Park.  I am sure he'd be willing to tell you how he did this.  Tell him Suzi, Bill and Lily sent you.

 

The infant seat was great in the trailer--completely Secure and steady.  We used that in the trailer until she was 1, then the trailer alone, now she is in a bike seat with helmet.  I found helmets did not fit until she was 2, but we were comfy with her in the steel cage of the trailer until then. 

 

The child bike seat is a co-pilot limo that we love.  I will admit we stick to trail or rural road riding only with our daughter, but we do this quite a lot--most weekends from April--November, 20-40 miles at a time.  We are not really comfy riding her in the city yet, but may attempt the short trek on sidestreets to school next fall.  Contact me for more advice. 

 

BTW, we are also cross country skiers and used the Burley Solo for this, too.  It has skis!  We used it both with and without the infant seat.  We will proudly show you our trailer, too.  Cheers, Suzi

We started both of our kids out in front carriers at about 9 months, then ended up getting a topeak babyseat for the extra suspension and ability to easily swap between bikes.  With two kids we use both a rear seat and a front seat, first like this and now like this.  The second setup is an xtracycled bike.  We really like this set up, as it allows us to carry both kids and their bikes, as well as supplies, on a single bike.  They can get on and off depending on how safe our route is and their energy levels, and one parent can take both kids.  It's also just amazing how much stuff you can fit on that bike, say on a trip to Costco...

 

I really like a front carrier for young kids.  It's nice to be able to talk to them and reassure them when they're not yet verbal.  They have a really good view of what's going on.  Both kids loved to point out Bus! Bike! etc when they weren't loud enough to communicate anything from the rear but a screaming protest, and we really enjoyed sharing the ride with them that way.

 

Biking on streets with my kids out of sight and down low to the ground (i.e. in a trailer) makes me uneasy.  This is probably purely in my own head, but it's why we never went the trailer route.

 

Oh, there's a relatively new website called Outdoor Baby Network:  http://outdoorbabynetwork.com/ 

For parents discuss issues related to doing outdoor activities with babies, toddlers, kids.  Another place to brainstorm, if you're interested.

Speaking of sharing advice on transporting kids. . . I am organizing a presentation during the 2/26 Cycle Swap  on Living Car Free (and Car Light) with Children. See promo text below. . .

 

I seek folks who can be part of the presentation--ideally we would hear from parents who are experienced with all ages of kids (I mostly run with the preK set for now). This will also be a great chance to just meet other biking families.  We are looking at the 1:15-2pm timeslot--I will know for sure later this week.

 

Please email me at gin_kilgore at yahoo dot com if you can commit to being there.  With enough people I imagine we can help out with watching our little ones during the presentation. Also, please help get the word out. I will create a chainlink event as soon as I know the timeslot is firm. Thanks!

 

*****

Having kids does not mean you have to trade your bike in for a car. Local families will be on hand at the 2011 Chicago Cycle Swap on Feb 26 to share tips on raising transvelopedes, ie children who know how to get around by transit, biking and walking. Tricky issues such as keeping your cool while having to layer both you and your child for winter excursions will be addressed. This is just one of the many presentations scheduled for the Bike Swap.

So here's little Dot at 7 months just arriving at school.  I ended up with a lightly used instep quick'n lite trailer from a co-worker.  Right now you're asking yourself, "how could you possibly put someone so tender in a device with such a horribly spelled name?"  I justify it by saying by the time she's spelling we'll have moved on to something with a bit more respect for the language.  Anyway, we went with the Burley trailer seat to provide additional padding and support.  Sadly the padding makes use of a helmet impossible as it would force her head too far forward, but the trailer's cage structure should provide protection if we roll and a helmet ain't going to do much to stop a car bumper anyway.  Once she's big enough to ride w/o the extra padding the helmet will come into the mix.  All in all it adds about 10 minutes to the front end of the trip but ends up saving me at least 10 minutes of commute time overall and we're both a lot happier than we were in the car.  Thanks for the input everybody!

 

Does anyone have experience with a) infant sling for Chariot or b) installing a car seat in a Chariot?  I have a 3 mo old and I'd rather transport him and his 4 yo sis to daycare by bike.  I've commuted with the older one from Ravenswood to Loop so I have experience in the commute, just not doing it with a weak-necked infant.

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