The Chainlink

Yeah, Yuba Mundo! Going Car Free- with two kids! Advice welcome.

(I tried searching but for some reason even the word "bike" got me no results...)

Since I resigned from my teaching job a few weeks ago to be a momtrepreneur, we decided to sell our Forester that costs nearly $200 a month just to park and invest in better bikes.  CTA seems to cover us pretty well- we live in the South Loop and DH walks to work.  

I have a Yuba coming from J.C. Lind on Wednesday afternoon, and I'm so excited---  but I haven't finalized my plan for the features and wondered if anyone has input on this.  Kids are nearly 5 and nearly 3, we live in a highrise (I *think* the elevator will accommodate the length) and it was a dream to drive compared to pulling my D'Lite with a Target Schwinn.

I am looking into both Zipcars and IGo, for occasional runs around, since little guy needs to be in a seat still and we have family on the North Side.

Quick questions, if someone knows:

Guys at Lind showed me two seats- Yepp Maxi and a plain black "jumpseat" style.  Any idea what that was called and what you would go with? I plan to get the Monkeybars (like Xtracycle Hooptie)  in a few months when little guy is a bit older.

I'm a little worried about parking and locking.  And people stealing stuff.  Help.

Can I get this beast on a train/truck or something if need be?  I take Metra at times and Amtrak to Milwaukee.  Just wondering.

What about Panniers?  Cargo nets? Bungees? With kids on, the Yuba bag will work, but might not be ideal.

Any advice for taxi rides with kids this age or knowledge of the law?  Our carseat is HEAVY and I have a folding high back booster, but don't know the rules.  We have done cab rides in a pinch with no seat, just rear belt, but if it's going to become more regular I'll have to reconsider.

I have a newer, cheap Schwinn and Burley jogging stroller kit I won't be needing, if there is any interest.  I'm keeping the D'Lite and two-wheel stroller kit, it is my nap machine :)

Thanks for any help!  I think we're going to have fun with this.

chicagobikemom.com

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I have no experience or advice but am always pleased to hear about people going car-free.  Good luck!!!

We are a family of three, with our little one starting Kindergarten this fall. We haven't owned a car since 1999. This August made us car-free by choice for 14 years.

It starts with decisions of where you live, walking distance to and barriers between the transit and the essentials. And only you can really define those essentials. For us it's grocery, library, park, school, employment, fun, transit system, and of course bike good bike routes. The 'barriers' I'm referring to the number of major (four-lane) streets must you cross and (b) are they have singled crossings. Distance doesn't matter if you can't go in a nearly straight, pleasant line. Also, most importantly, put life's essentials between your home and work. It's always nice to "pop in the store" if it's on the way to work or home.

Specifically to biking, make it a work horse. My wife bought me a water-proof plainir for my birthday. That has changed my relationship with my bike. We bought a thrid-wheel, tag-along attachment for our kid. We ride to  summer camp together. It's extra time with my kid!

I personally am not a fan of the Yuba bags.  An alternative is to rig up some Xtracycle bags, which are more versatile.

My understanding is that the Amtrak to Milwaukee train (unlike many of the downstate Illinois Amtrak lines) does not allow bikes except when they have been disassembled and packed in bike boxes.

We have a Yuba with the Yepp and jump seat from JC Lind.  Our kids are just 3 and almost 5.  The jump seat is great for the older one, but I wouldn't trust the younger one in it.  The seats can be easily taken off and positioned with either one in front.  This makes it a lot easier with only one kid on the bike - the second seat comes off and the remaining seat is placed right behind the rider.  It takes awhile to get used to having both kids on the bike.  We rode in parking lots and on the gravel path in Lincoln Park a few times before heading out on the street.  After a week or two, you get used to it.  

We have two Yuba bags.  They work well for us.  With both bags and no kids, Costco trips are perfectly dooable.  We use both bungie cords and tie down straps depending on the load.  The bags go on and off easily, which is great when you don't need them.

We have one car.  You will have to double check, but I don't believe the Yuba is allowed on Amtrack - even trains that allow "normal" bikes.  Transporting the bike is tough.  There are a couple of racks that I know of that work well enough for putting it on a car.

We lock it with a large'ish Abus chain lock.  Seems to work ok, knock on wood.  We have not had anyone mess with the bike.  We put it in a locked storage area at night.

Thanks, Richard! That's awesome.  My kids aren't fans of being in the car, they're going to welcome the change.  I think we're in a great place for this, the only reason we kept the car was because I had to drive across the city to daycare/work before- before bikes, we walked to all our essentials regularly, other than family way up North.  Since we started biking, though, it's opened up many more options for us, as there are so many great places to go that were *just* beyond convenient walking distance.  Still on the fence as to Yuba bags...  I definitely have the kids with me 99% of the time.  Ditto on the more time with kids- we don't mind a longer commute to see family on the train when it means we're face to face with the kids instead of having them strapped in their seats in the car.

Richard said:

We are a family of three, with our little one starting Kindergarten this fall. We haven't owned a car since 1999. This August made us car-free by choice for 14 years.

It starts with decisions of where you live, walking distance to and barriers between the transit and the essentials. And only you can really define those essentials. For us it's grocery, library, park, school, employment, fun, transit system, and of course bike good bike routes. The 'barriers' I'm referring to the number of major (four-lane) streets must you cross and (b) are they have singled crossings. Distance doesn't matter if you can't go in a nearly straight, pleasant line. Also, most importantly, put life's essentials between your home and work. It's always nice to "pop in the store" if it's on the way to work or home.

Specifically to biking, make it a work horse. My wife bought me a water-proof plainir for my birthday. That has changed my relationship with my bike. We bought a thrid-wheel, tag-along attachment for our kid. We ride to  summer camp together. It's extra time with my kid!

Very helpful, thank you- we were thinking one seat and the stoker bars/leg up peg for the 5 year old, and I didn't realize you could move the seat position.  I'm still thinking monkey bars will work well in a few months, so investing in two seats now might not be necessary, do you think your 5 yo can handle sitting with the bars alone?  I do still have a trailer for longer/sleepier rides.

JKW said:

We have a Yuba with the Yepp and jump seat from JC Lind.  Our kids are just 3 and almost 5.  The jump seat is great for the older one, but I wouldn't trust the younger one in it.  The seats can be easily taken off and positioned with either one in front.  This makes it a lot easier with only one kid on the bike - the second seat comes off and the remaining seat is placed right behind the rider.  It takes awhile to get used to having both kids on the bike.  We rode in parking lots and on the gravel path in Lincoln Park a few times before heading out on the street.  After a week or two, you get used to it.  

We have two Yuba bags.  They work well for us.  With both bags and no kids, Costco trips are perfectly dooable.  We use both bungie cords and tie down straps depending on the load.  The bags go on and off easily, which is great when you don't need them.

We have one car.  You will have to double check, but I don't believe the Yuba is allowed on Amtrack - even trains that allow "normal" bikes.  Transporting the bike is tough.  There are a couple of racks that I know of that work well enough for putting it on a car.

We lock it with a large'ish Abus chain lock.  Seems to work ok, knock on wood.  We have not had anyone mess with the bike.  We put it in a locked storage area at night.

You won't be able to move the seat position with only one seat.  Each set snaps into a bracket that is mounted to the frame.  With two seats, there are two brackets and you can change it around.  With one seat, you will have to mount the bracket in either the front or the back of the frame.

I think the bars and leg up would work for a 5 year old.  I have not used the monkey bars, but they seem like a good choice when the youngest is a bit older.  The seats raise the center of gravity of the kids by 6 inches or so.  That makes handling the bike harder.  With the stoker or monkey bars, the kids would sit on the deck and the bike would handle a bit better.

I have a 2 year old and a six year old that have been riding on our Yuba since last year. Both of my kids can use the stoker bars and foot pegs but the youngest prefers our GMG seat (which is the jumpseat you are referring too). Early in the spring, we rigged up a hooptie knockoff to go around the deck and attach a rain cover when necessary but have since ditched it in favor of occasional handlebars for the seat rider. We hauled some camping gear earlier this summer with both kids and the hoop just got in the way for the 100+ miles we traveled. The seat is on a separate rack that installs right to the frame and we made a shorter seat pad for the stoker position. We have a second rack on another bike and the seat can be transferred in seconds between both bikes. The GMG works really well for us (my son is over the weight limit of most seats so options were limited as to what also fits on the rack) but he does not nap on our bike which makes it work for us.

We always keep one pannier on the bike in case of a grocery stop. The bag doesn't seem to interfere with the kids riding and we often put an occasional child back there too. On the opposite side, we have a tow tray since my 6 year old often likes to ride herself but gets tired on the greater distances. We can tow both her bike, my sons balance bike, groceries or stuff, and 3ish kids without much issue other than a good workout. We did get the breadbasket for the front which for us is a nice addition but does sometimes create issues for parking and locking up. We don't have either xtracycle or yuba bags - I fashioned something myself that holds approximately 4 gallons of milk plus extra so fairly close in size to what they offer.

You cannot take a Yuba on any trains in this area - metra or cta. It is just too long. I do know one other family that has gotten their xtracycle onto the CtA but it was a bear to fit in the elevator and was late on a weeknight without many employees around. Doesn't fit on a bus either so you will want to have a game plan on what to do when you have a flat or some other issue. Carry a good lock. If you need to transport it, it can be carried on a hitch mounted rack. Samantha from Ding Ding Let's Ride can give you more info if you need since they have traveled with their Yuba this summer.

Have fun. My kids both dislike car riding so biking is it for us. I also frequently use it to haul heavy tools for work. It is faster than other cargo bikes (we also have a bucket bike) but still not super speedy and somewhat heavy but a great family bike. We put about 75-100 miles a week on it year round and have been really happy with it.

Congrats and godspeed on going car-free, and super cool that so many Yuba owners have come out of the woodwork to offer support and advice here!

No problem. Going car-free is not for everyone and you have to set up your life in the proper order. It's slightly more effort but has gotten so much easier. Zip/Car and I-Go are always options. Bike share, new lanes, an increased awareness (in good natured people), and an increase in numbers of cyclist all help.

Car-free just requires a bit more pre-planning. But if you're a parent, you're already in that frame of mind anyway. In fact I really think that skills required to parent transfer over to car-free living. Compare nap schedules to train schedules. On most days it might be like clockwork (if you're lucky) -- except when it's not and everything cascades with it.

Once school starts I won't be biking my kid to summer camp any more. What I'd give for a few more weeks of one having one of my favorite activities alongside one of my favorite persons in the world!

KayCee Militante said:

Thanks, Richard! That's awesome.  My kids aren't fans of being in the car, they're going to welcome the change.  I think we're in a great place for this, the only reason we kept the car was because I had to drive across the city to daycare/work before- before bikes, we walked to all our essentials regularly, other than family way up North.  Since we started bikin....

Took the bike out yesterday, in good weather we are all set!  In bad weather, I expect we'll take cabs from time to time, so I found a product called a "safer ride travel vest" for my toddler and I am ready to roll.  Off to service the Subaru, then get it listed.  THanks again!

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