FamilyLife.Rocks parenting in germany

Bicycling with a child

Summer is here and we are finally riding the bicycle again. Therefore I need storage space on my bike since you never know which unwieldy toy is going to be the beloved one for my child at the moment. In the evenings he currently huddles up to a little wooden excavator…

Also always accompanying our excursions: diapers and baby wipes, spare clothes, corn waffles, and a drink. This does not sound like much but adds up to quiet a package. And all of this only to spend a couple of hours on the playground. But this is the way it is when you are a mother and the times of carrying a clutch bag on your shoulder are definetly over.

Since the first warmer days I prefer putting the little one on the bike since this enlarges our cruising radius tremendously and enables us to spend the afternoons in Augsburg’s minicipal forest “Siebentischwald”. Located in the forest is a playground that is already quite flooded with sunlight in spring.

But there is always one problem: how do I move all our stuff to the playground since having both the child and a piece of luggage safely stored and transported is not easily accomplished.

Safe bicyling with a child

I have voted for an infant seat mounted above the bicycle rack. This seemed to be the most practical solution. This way the seat is also slightly spring-suspended. I presume that this is somewhat healthier than dragging children around in a trailer. I always think that children are given a good shake at each curb the trailer must cross. But since all products for children have to undergo strict quality assurance tests and carry seals of approval this is probably only my imagination.

The bike

The bike

My husband and me are surely especially focused on safety for different reasons that do not need to be discussed in detail. But it is by all means dead certain that we would have the infant seat fit by a professional. Not least because we lack the required tools. As a result I took the bicycle dealer’s advice concerning the subject of the supposed best bicycle parking rack. The one I have been using since the days of my early youth has failed me several times already. Unthinkable to have a child seated on the bike as well while using it.

A lot of parents have a sand resembling a fork. But I have been discouraged from using it for the fact that you are not supposed to expand or collapse it under load. Therefore you would have to lift up the bike including the seated child and luggage and support the weight with one arm to actually move the rack. Even the most motivated biker will not go through this for an extended stretch of time and therefore the fork will sooner or later need to be replaced due to the extra strain.

The recommended rack was mounted to the shaft of the rear wheel corresponding to the focal point where the child is seated. I had a change to test this setup for a couple of months and have to state that I am very pleased with the recommendation.

  1. child and bike are very heavy indeed
  2. the bike has a solid stand since the rack has been attached to the ideal position

A bicycle with a child is not automatically a cargo-carrying bike

We are now able to travel both safely and fast. But the question how to handle the baggage still remains. While riding a bicycle with a child seated behind you there is obviously cannot carry a backpack since it would be right in the child’s face which would be rather unpleasant. You also cannot use a shoulder bag since it woul deither have to be placed on the back as well or dangle irritatingly in front of your body. At the latest when climbing a hill this would become very annoying.

The idea of using saddle-bags was destroyed by the placement of the fenders of the child seat meant to protect the child’s feet. There must be a clever solution, but this is left as an experiment for a design student.

The bicycle dealer suggested a handlebar basket but even this solution has a constraint: you are not allowed to carry more than 5 kilogramm of cargo to prevent the risk of making the vehicle unstable and unbalanced. This would be a source of danger on its own.

I will have a bicycle basket mounted to my bike since it seems the only choice, although is might be unsuited for shopping. We will still have to use the stroller and use the appended basket for our purchases. A leaded stroller is hard to manouver as well, but you use it at a much lower speed.