Biking keeps family together

By Kathy Schrenk
This blog post about a mom who has six kids and no car blew me away. Instead of a car, she has a fancy Dutch bike that carries up to four kids in the front. There's a standard kid seat right behind mom and a trail-a-bike-type contraption coming off the back for the sixth (and biggest) kid.

What an inspiration. But, you might be thinking, my family needs two cars for times when biking isn't possible, and I can't afford the $4,000 bike if I don't sell one of our cars. Not to worry, it's easy to bike your kids around without dipping into their college fund.

When my first son was infant, I got a Burley bike trailer. It was just big enough to fit his infant car seat (aka, the bucket) so I biked all over the place with him in there, attached to either my road or town bike.

When my second son was born less than 2 years later, I got a double Chariot trailer and they rode together in that for a while. Then, I discovered one of my favorite ways of biking with kids, the iBert. Your child can start riding in it as soon as they are strong enough to sit up with a helmet on. It's wonderful for you and your kid because he gets a great view of the ride, and you can easily have a conversation with him. (Just make sure to get him a helmet that's round and not pointed at the back.)

Once my older son outgrew the trailer, it was big-kid time: the Trail-a-Bike. This attaches to the grown-up's bike and allows the kid to practice pedaling and to get an idea about what it's like to ride in traffic. When my younger son outgrew the iBert, he went back to the single trailer, which was attached to the Trail-a-Bike. Yes, it was quite a train. The good news is, it's really hard for drivers to not see you.

If I had a bigger family, I could envision having up to four kids on a bike using a combination of gear: one kid in an iBert, one a trail-a-bike, and two kids in a double trailer. I've even seen tandem Trail-a-Bikes.

Yes, this is a large number of accessories. But you can buy them when you need them instead of spending a lot of money all at once on a cargo bike. All of these items can often be purchased used through craigslist or your local mom's club and have good resale value if you decide to buy new. In fact I bought my iBert used and then sold it for almost the same price when we were done with it. (I bought the double trailer new and sold it for about $100 less than purchase price about two years later.)

These days all I need is the Trail-a-Bike because my older son (age six-and-a-half) can ride on his own and (almost) keep up. (I imagine the mom with six kids only lets her oldest one ride on his own because kids don't always make the best decisions while riding in traffic, and corralling more than one while piloting your own bike-bus can be pretty stressful.)

Oh, and the bike this stuff all gets attached to is a Kona mountain bike that I bought for less than $400 13 years ago at my local bike shop.

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