How to be an awesome bike-commuting mama
Photo Credit: Trevor Block
My little girl Audrey is my sunshine and she is my stoker. From her bicycle throne behind my saddle, she loves to slap my bum and cry "Go FASTER, Mama!". My husband finds this hilarious.
I had been looking forward to commuting with Audrey since way before she was born. We were going to ride all over town, singing songs and waving to one and all. We were going to soak up the sun and laugh off the rain.
I was going to be an awesome bike-commuting mama.
I have toured thousands of miles by bicycle, exploring several countries and states. I have raced alongside the fierce ladies of Team Group Health. And I can confidently hold my own in downtown traffic alongside cars and trucks and buses…in high heels.
Yet despite all my experience, all my years of commuting, all my street savvy, I was not prepared for the challenges of biking with kids.
So what’s an awesome bike commuting mama to do? Here's what I've learned:
- Re-consider your route. Find a route that is safer (to accommodate the precious cargo) and flatter (to accommodate the extra weight), even if it’s longer. My kid routes are sometimes a couple miles longer but way more enjoyable.
- Prepare. Pack the night before. You KNOW what it's like getting out the door with kids.
- Allow extra time. Even with good preparation, it will take you longer to get out the door. The extra weight will slow you down a bit. And you will need to stop along the way to snack, potty, warm up and/or melt down.
- Layers. In the winter, dress kids in an extra layer than you wear (remember that they aren’t exercising). In the summer, apply sunscreen. I’ve also learned that sleeves and pants that are just a tad too long will adequately cover tender baby skin when they are seated.
- Keep it fun. Point out cool stuff along the way (kids love construction sites, nesting ducks, random soccer practice). Include a new park in your route and stop for a play break. Sing songs or play I spy along the way.
- Keep em busy. Audrey especially loved having a small toy to hold along the way. I tethered it to her seat in case she dropped it or nodded off. All the same, don’t bring great grandmother’s china doll.
Want to learn more? Cascade Bicycle Club offers additional resources, including our new Family Biking Program. And local blog TotCycle offers information and organizes Kidical Mass rides around town.
Have a biking with babes tip of your own? Do tell!