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Biking to School: One pedal stroke at a time!

Fall is here! School has begun!!! The weather is cooling off and the mosquitoes are beginning to die off…and finally we can go outside again anytime of the day!

But many of us are busier than ever too. Busy with chores, work, life and ready for the election to be over for some sanity.

Parenting
Parenting

Some of us are lucky enough have an opportunity to commute by bike to work whereas others may not and reluctantly hop in the car or on the bus for the commute.

With all that is going on sometimes the last thing we think about is how we get to school but just actually getting the kid(s) to school. But the way we get the kid(s) to school can have a profound impact on their success at school, overall health, and outlook in life. As if we did not have enough pressure as parents, huh?

So, how do your kids get to school? By bus, car, bike or on their own two feet? Maybe you really want an opportunity to have them bike to school or walk. Maybe you feel they are attending a school that doesn’t have an option for alternate modes of transportation because it is too far or not enough time.

As parents we want dearly to share the love of biking and the outdoors. Time seems to limit us so often. Many of us are busy however with work and daily chores that it gets easy to feel overwhelmed at the thought of working to get to school by biking. But maybe just a first baby step would help make a world of difference.

First step, figure out how much time you can dedicate to the alternative commute. Maybe one day a week is all that can be managed given all of life’s constraints. That one day is enough to make a huge difference so take it!

Second step, figure out how much of the commute you believe you can make initially by bike. Do you think the kids could make a 15min ride or 10min or could they do a full 30min ride like champions of biking!?

Third, and probably most important, find a ‘safe route‘. This can be tricky. The safest route for less experienced bikers is a residential road with lower speed limits (25mph and under) or dedicated bike paths. Alternatively bike lanes with physical barriers.

In finding a safe route however not all communities have the bike friendly infrastructure desired. You know your neighborhood and environment best. A safe method to finding the right route is rather pragmatic. Find a local bike map or local bike advocacy group. From the available bike map you should be able to see lower speed roads (essential) and bike friendly roads. Also highlighted on a bike map are crosswalks enabled for pedestrians and cyclists. Some more advanced crosswalks maybe highlighted in these maps to give you an even safer crossing.

Kids on Wheels: Crosswalk Capture
Kids on Wheels: Crosswalk Capture

One very cool tool put together by the city of Brisbane helps put together a safe commute and maybe a useful tool to familiarize yourself with building your own route.

Once you have mapped out an opportunity to bike to school with the kids. DO ride this on the weekend first. Try a nice Saturday and Sunday morning when traffic is light and see how the kid(s) do. Is the distance too much? Do you need to choose a different street or maybe hook up to a bus route to finish the ride and if so, can bike go on the bus? Would it be better to drive 2miles closer, park and bike from a safe location? This is still a good choice as with time you will get stronger and more confident.

Once you have this ALL worked out and feel like the kids AND you are emotionally and physically ready to tackle it- give it a shot on a nice Friday morning or so- I promise although it is nerve racking initially it does get so, SO much easier. And ultimately EVERYONE has a better ‘ride’ to school!

Fourth step, figure out the needs of your equipment. Always have a helmet, lights and a flag and/or bell for the kids on whatever bike your choose. For a choice of bikes, many younger kids may prefer to use balance bikes or bikes with training wheels. This definitely limits the distance and increases safety concerns.

If your child(ren) is (are) ‘ok’ on these types of bikes but you have a fairly long way to travel, consider a trail along bike. You can also buy a tandem trailer bike for multiple kids needing some assistance.

These are amazing at getting your little one used to biking the distance without solely relying on their ability. Have a little one to tag along that can’t quite reach the pedals- NO Problem! Haul your trailer behind the tag along bike OR consider having a friend join to help with pulling the trailer.

Our Ride to School!
Our Ride to School!

We bike 3 miles to and from school daily and my daughter recently got her trail along bike and she loves it! She actually looks forward to going to school and the pedaling definitely works her legs- she sleeps much better at night for it too!

So you have the tools and the knowledge – get out and ride. Whether it is one day, two days, one morning or all week back and forth just starting is the key to laying the foundation for future success. You can do it and you have help I promise!

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End of Summer BOB Trailer Sale

We’re having our End of Summer BOB Trailer Sale at the Bike Trailer Shop.

The sale is running from August 23rd to September 7th.

Its a great opportunity to get a BOB Trailer at 10% 0ff (BOB Yaks from $259 or BOB Ibex from $323)

BOB Trailers are a great all purpose trailer. From bike touring to bike commuting to errands, BOB Trailers can handle it all with ease and grace. BOB Trailers are great for both on road and off with the Ibex offering a shock and the Yak offering a light weight simple design.

Check out the great deals at Bike Trailer Shop.

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Jeff's Trailer Reviews, Part 1: BOB Trailers

Coming from the land of two-wheeled trailers, I’ve long held some reservations about the single-wheeled variety. Most two-wheeled models behave in, more or less, the same way. One wheel has always seemed, well, weird. I guess it’s time for me to slay a couple myths about BOB Trailers.
Continue reading Jeff's Trailer Reviews, Part 1: BOB Trailers

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Bike Trailers at Interbike

Other than Xtracycle, there were several other developments of note in the arena of bicycle cargo trailers.

Kona UTE Utility BikeKona was displaying their utility bike the Ute. The UTE like the Surly Big Dummy is a complete long haul cargo bike. Unlike the Big Dummy it does not utilize the Xtracycle rack system and instead has a built in bike rack system.

Continue reading Bike Trailers at Interbike

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Interesting BOB Trailer Uses Part 1

See also: Interesting BOB Trailer Uses Part 2.

One of my favorite things about BOB Trailers is the proclivity of their use as the base for the odd if not bizarre modification.

BOB Trailer with Solar PanelSolar Power: Use your BOB to support a large solar array and run electrical appliances wherever you go. Or use it to power the electric hub on your bike.

Continue reading Interesting BOB Trailer Uses Part 1

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Single Wheeled Trailers: Adding to the Art

The basic BOB Yak Trailers set the stage for imitators, as discussed in the last post, as well as single wheel bike trailers that owe their lineage to the BOB but have gone on in new directions. These inspired cargo haulers have evolved by adding suspension, different cargo configurations, different size wheels, multi-functionality and other features.

Bob Trailer IbexBOB’s Ibex trailer was introduced circa 2002. It offers suspension to improve the ride off road and on.

Continue reading Single Wheeled Trailers: Adding to the Art

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Single Wheeled Trailers: The BOB Trailer Imitators

Imitation, the Greatest Form of Flattery

The BOB Trailer has first defined and then dominated the bike cargo trailer scene since it became available in the early 90’s. As evidence of its success there has been a significant train of imitators to follow. Some of these have brought added innovations while others are simply a lower quality knock off.

Continue reading Single Wheeled Trailers: The BOB Trailer Imitators