One of the things we love most about cycling is its flexibility. You can hop on your bike and head to the mountains for the weekend, or use it as a mode of transport during the week.
While solo commutes are generally pretty straightforward, cycling with kids can make things a little more complicated! Doing the school run by bike is a great way to get some exercise while enjoying some quality family time, but it may require a bit of forward planning.
Since we’re officially in back-to-school territory, we put together a guide to outline our best tips for commuting with kids.
Allow for Extra Minutes
Anyone who’s spent time around kids knows time is not on their side when it comes to doing, well, pretty much anything. Kids can be high maintenance travellers, and it’s almost certain that somewhere along the way someone will need a toilet break, a snack or an adjustment to their clothing.
Our advice? If you’ve estimated 30 minutes’ travel time to get them to school, add on an extra 15 minutes to be safe!
Bring Snacks (and Water!)
Most parents or caregivers will already be aware of the power of snacks, and their benefits extend to the school run! Even if you’ve just fed them breakfast, the chances are your kids will be begging for some kind of snack less than half way into the journey. Pack some snacks and water into a handlebar bag for easy access.
Gear Everyone Up!
We know we’re stating the obvious by advising you and your kids to wear helmets! However, we appreciate that getting them to actually wear one can have its challenges. A good trick is to get your little ones something they actually like.
Bern Helmets have a great line of children’s helmets which not only look stylish, but suit all-weather commutes too. We love the Nino 2.0 for kids and for infants, the Baby Nutty by Nutcase is super fun. Both also hold up in snowy conditions if you’re braving a winter commute! Bicycling.com put together a recent list of bike helmets for kids, which features lots of other cool brands, too.
Baby Nutty helmet by Nutcase
The next most important piece of gear for all riders is layers, layers, layers. Being cold and wet yourself is no fun mid-commute, but there’s nothing more off-putting than a cold, wet toddler either! So make sure to invest in some high-quality rain and cold weather gear for you and your kids.
Choose the Right Chariot
If your child is still too young to power a bike on their own, chariots or bike carriers are a great way to bring your little one along for the ride.
Suitable for kids of up to around 40lbs, bike chariots are a little pricier than standard bike seats. However, their superior features (think sun screen, rain cover and more room inside for toys!) makes them the perfect companion for family bike rides. Many can also convert to a stroller or ski carrier.
Because of their low height, bike chariots shouldn’t be used on busy main roads, and are instead better suited for rides in nature, quieter streets and neighbourhoods or on specific cycle lanes or tracks.
‘9 Best Bike Trailers for Kids: Your Buyer’s Guide’ by heavy.com is a great source of information about some popular chariots on the market today, including special features and pros and cons. REI also stocks some great bike trailers.
Make sure You’re Visible
Traffic-free routes would be the commuting ideal, but when you have a set route from A to B, it’s not always possible to choose quiet bike paths. If you do find the only route available includes some traffic, it’s really important to make sure you and your kids are as visible as possible.
Make sure you have reflective accents on your clothing, bike and equipment, and if you’re riding in low-light conditions use both your front and rear lights. If you’re riding with your child in a trailer or chariot, it’s a good idea to add a safety flag and lights to those, too.
Consider an E-Bike with Bench Seat for your Kids
Kids can be a heavy load! E-bikes can offer an extra level of stability so you can ride with confidence. The TERN GSD Bike is awesome for biking around with kids, and has a variety of rear seating options so there’s no need for extra cargo attachments.
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