Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Strapping your baby to your bike

Beginning to bike with one's kids is a big step, for most of us.  It's one thing to pedal Boston's busy streets on your own, but quite another to do so after strapping your baby to your bike.  Parent paranoia is bound to rear its ugly head.  Initially, I worried about aggressive drivers and reckless taxis.  How would I respond, in front of my children, to the inevitable verbal assault?  Pleasantly surprised, I've discovered motorists tend to give me more room on the road and pass at lower rates of speed, when I'm riding with my kids.  In fact, they're downright polite!  At times, I've considered commuting with an empty child seat on the back of my bike just so I'd receive the extra wiggle room from cars, but I fear the motorists would eventually catch on and begin to squeeze me regardless of whether or not children were on board. 

I recommend babysteps, in order to start riding with your kids:
  • Plan a short trip with your kiddo to do something fun , like going to the park, playground or for ice cream. 
  • Choose not the shortest route, but the calmest one.  It's tough to chat with your little one over the roar of even moderate motor vehicle traffic. 
  • Get some lights.  It does not hurt to run them during daylight hours, but please, be considerate of your fellow riders at night and be sure to aim your lights low, so as to not impair an approaching cyclists vision.
  • I've found a mirror mounted to a set of eyewear to be invaluable.  My favorite is the Take-a-Look mirror
  • Helmet cameras are awesome!  I look forward to watching our time spent together on the bike, once my children have left the nest.  Bonus: I've found MBTA bus drivers are cognizant of helmet cameras and pass very reasonably, as a result, child in tow or not.
  • Have fun!  If your little one is uncomfortable, take a break, and remember, it's ok to bail.  Locking your bike up, calling for a ride or taking the T home are viable options if a ride goes south quickly.  Boston's tiny.  You can retrieve your bike later. 
So, go for it!  You're kids will thank you for it, repeatedly.