These Moms Bicycle Commute with Kids. Will You Join Them?

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To be honest, I felt nervous about strapping two toddlers into a bicycle trailer and pulling them to school, let alone making it from school to my own office on time. Hearing from other moms who bike-commute successfully inspired me. And once I tried ditching the car, I was hooked; so were the kids!

So, I interviewed a few moms who bike, to help you figure out if you can too.  You can configure your ride many ways, a front-bucket cargo bike, a long-tail cargo bike, or an e-bike with a trailer attached. To help figure out which works for your family, you can test ride some family cargo-bikes at the Arlington Fun Ride this Saturday October 5th, or at bike shops around the district. The Daily Rider on H St. specializes in cargo bikes and has a few models for you to try out. 

Bike Tips Straight from some Moms

Lelac

Commute: 5.5 Miles 

Bunch Bike is one easy to handle cargo-bike with plenty of room for kids.

What’s your Ride?  

A Bunch cargo bike – tricycle, the front box has two wheels, so it feels very stable. My 4-year-old rides on the bench seat with helmet and seat belt — there are actually seats/belts for four kids. My 8-month-old can ride in the baby seat.  It has an e-assist so it’s really easy to ride.

What do you love (or hate) about bike commuting with kids?

My schedule hasn’t changed, I’ve just magically added an additional hour of outdoor time and exercise to my life!  I hate driving, I hate traffic and I care about the environment. The option of spending those 30 minutes outdoors and moving sounded so much more enjoyable.

If you could change one thing about cycling what would it be?

When I first looked at the map I saw the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) and it looked like it went all the way to the school, in reality much of that trail is just a marked lane on a road And, some of those roads are in such poor condition that I can’t actually ride in the marked lane. I love the ride in spite of this, but DC needs better bike trails. We especially need protected bike lanes – lanes on roads that are separated from cars by a barrier of some kind.

What else do you want moms to know?

I’m not an athletic or adventurous person, I never have been. And I was super nervous to try this.  But is so great! Once I tried it I loved it. and if I can do it, pretty much anyone can! Oh and I’m happy to let others test out my bike.

Maggie

Commute: 9.5 miles RT

The Tern Cargo bike lest moms commute wiht kids on back and bags on front

Whats your ride?

I ride a Tern GSD, which is a mid-tail bike with e-assist. I’ve got two kids on the bike; my five year old rides on a cushion and my two and a half year old is in a Yepp seat in back. I’ve got cyclofab rails (a kid-cage) around both of them for additional safety. Love this bike. It’s got smaller 20″ wheels, so it has a low center of gravity. It’s also the same size as a regular bike, so it’s easier to store. The e-assist is zippy enough that I get up the biggest hills with two on the back with no problem. I never hesitate riding with this bike. Also, it fits into the back of our Subaru if necessary, which is great. 

Tell us what you love (or hate) about bike commuting with kids?

I love that my kids love biking. There is never a complaint about getting onto the bike to head somewhere. That wasn’t always the case with the car. I love that I don’t have to worry about parking, that we can get pretty much anywhere we need to go, and that with the e-assist most distances and nearly all hills never feel insurmountable.

I hate that cities – and certainly DC – is built with cars being king. Worse though, there are people behind the wheels of those 2500 lb machines who think it’s funny to zig into my lane just for laughs (this just happened, with both my kids on the bike). It’s just not funny, not ever. 

If you could change one thing about cycling in DC what would it be?

More protected bike lanes throughout the city. Since I’ve lived in DC bike commuting has exploded. It’s good for the city, it’s good for the environment, it relieves the pressure on the roads from all the car congestion, it’s so efficient and great, but what I really see is that people’s lives have to matter more than they clearly do to our city’s leaders. For a real vision zero, people need to be prioritized before cars. 

What do your kids say about the ride?

My kids love it. “Mom, you’re coming to pick me up on the bike today, right?”. They help me signal as we ride. They talk to people along the way. My kids love it, and I love sharing that time with them. 

What else do you want moms to  know?

I think commuting through the city with kids is great, but I understand it isn’t for everybody. I’d say try it out. Borrow a friend’s bike, or go visit one of the fantastic bike shops in town. My husband and I have been bike commuters for a long time, and to be able to bring our kids along has made living in the city even more enjoyable. And I know people will wonder (and I’ve had friends ask me): why do I do it if it isn’t completely safe? All I can say is that I ride as safely as possible, that I make sure to minimize distractions (no earphones, for example), that we have safety gear on (lights, reflector tape, helmets, etc), and that we follow the rules of the road. To date we’ve never had an accident. There’s plenty of road to share, and I hope that by us being out there on two wheels that it encourages others to try the same. 

Is Bike-commuting for you?

We’d love to hear from you, tell us about your bike commutes bellow or use the comment section to ask questions of other riders.  To find more biking families look for the Facebook group: DC Family Biking.

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Katherine lived on four different continents before settling in Washington, D.C., to raise her family. She works at a global think tank during the day and raises twin boys the rest of the time. When she isn't working on a spreadsheet for work, she loves walking in the forest with her family, which invariably involves stomping in puddles and climbing on logs. Though she is less of a world traveler these days, she continues to seek out adventures, from exploring D.C.'s museums and playgrounds to taking road trips to national parks. When it's time to unwind, she can be found snuggling with her husband on the couch. Likes: adventures, sleeping past 7 a.m., being surrounded by forests, the sound of her boys laughing, and locally made ice cream. Dislikes: whining, the patriarchy, and people who judge parents.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I love this!

    I’m a bit envious when I see the cargo bikes where it is obvious the rider is a mom or dad going to pick up, or just dropped off some kiddos. Currently my own biking is just one way with Capital Bikeshare and Junior’s daycare is too close to justify biking there.

    Great work getting several different biking mom’s perspectives, especially a mom with a bike with e-assist. Hills can be a killer. They are very right that there are risks and the bike lanes could stand to be improved.

    • Thanks! gotta say being able to walk to Day Care is a sweet deal! But you are more than we;come to join the family biking crowd!

  2. As I walked back home from playgroup drop off this morning, I thought to myself there has to be an easier way! This post came at the perfect time and has inspired me to get a bike to help with our playgroup commute, thank you so much!!

  3. Thanks! gotta say being able to walk to Day Care is a sweet deal! But you are more than welcome to join the family biking crowd!

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