Monday, September 04, 2006

bike trailers for hauling kids

We put a carseat in our bike trailer when the kids were infants and transported them that way most of the time. I once went to a WATS meeting in winter like this with our daughter. We eventually had to buy a bigger trailer to carry both of them. We bought a Wike trailer, which had far less cargo capacity, but was excellent for carrying around two kids. It folds and converts to a stroller and folds down completely for storage as well. (I miss our Wike, and having two kids small enough to use it.)

Contributed by: Ken Clark

Also, from Karen Smith's recent comment:

Man! Why didn't I do this sooner? I just bought a kid trailer for my bike. It's great! (Chariot Cougar double). Now I can take both the twins to around town by bike---before we always had both parents hauling each one kid to get around (or one parent went by bus). So now hubby can snooze on the couch while we go to more exotic parks (or vice versa)! I should have done this 2 years ago.
The chariot cougar was a bit pricey ($435), but I think you get what you pay for in this type of purchase. We got ours at AA Cyclery on Packard (great store BTW).


JCP2 said...

The one issue with kids and a bike trailer is the width of the trailer and the lack of maneuverability and speed. While I am perfectly comfortable travelling alone on my bike as a commuter on the road, I am a bit uneasy towing my double trailer, as it takes up most of the width of the bike lane (if there is one), and I don't think drivers on major roads appreciate sharing space with me in that configuration. I've been more successful using the sidewalk, but then I don't think I'm really doing the correct thing. My son, who used to love going with me on trips around the local neighborhood, is a bit scared since the time I took him down Ann Arbor-Saline Road with the cars and trucks whizzing by inches from his face. For reference, I live just outside Ann Arbor, and have to use Scio Church Road, Liberty Road, and Oak Valley Road to get into the city.

KCAA said...

jcp2, it sounds like you're biking too close to the edge of the road. When my wife or I are pulling a trailer, the left side of the trailer is almost always out of the bike lane. Our bike lanes aren't wide enough in AA in most cases to pull a bike trailer in them. In general, if cars are passing closely, you're probably encouraging them to do that by biking too close to the edge.

Note that the state "keep right" law changed this summer. If there isn't enough room to safely share the lane with motorists, you don't have to keep right. Use the middle of the lane in that case. You'll find that some motorists get cranky and honk their horn, but all of them will wait and pass when it's safer. You're risking more encouraging them to pass too close than making them move over.

JCP2 said...

I'm pretty sure that I would get a very poor reception if I took up the middle of the lane where my son had the bad experience. Have you been on Ann Arbor-Saline Road SOUTH of Meijer's and Target? Oak Valley is not a pretty sight at rush hour either. I'm reduced to the absurd reality of driving less than five minutes to the new Pittsfield branch of the Ann Arbor Library. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Scott said...

jpc2, while I think kcaa gave some good advice, it doesn't mean every bike ride has to be a statement on cyclists' rights. You are certainly not obligated to ride where you and your children are not comfortable or fear for your safety.

I wish I could come up with an easy solution. Lacking an obvious answer, I'll throw out some ideas:

1) In spite of your concerns about "taking the lane", try it (maybe without the kid trailer). It would be great if we had some volunteers willing to ride with people to show them how to do this and build some confidence. I'd like to support a "riding buddy" list on this website. Even better if a couple of police folks would sign up! I'm not saying drivers will all be happy, I'm just saying that doesn't have to stop you. As kcaa points out, it is legal now.

2) Try traveling at non-peak traffic times. This area is especially filled with especially impatient drivers in the morning and evening rush hours. Sometimes adjusting your schedule makes getting around a lot easier.

3) Try a different route, even if it is a little longer. I don't know which route you currently take to the library, but there is a maze of weaving suburban roads that approach the library from the south. Even if they add some distance to the trip, they might make for a more pleasant ride.

4) It is worth exploring a bit to see if there are any informal paths and short-cuts that would help. Take a spin around the building and see if there are any paths leading off from the parking lot.

5) It's not a short-term solution, but it sure would help everyone if you mentioned your situation to the library staff and your township reps.

Sorry that none of these are a "magic carpet" solution, but hopefully they help a little.