Author Topic: Biking with 3 kids!  (Read 3565 times)

NatalieMarie

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Biking with 3 kids!
« on: January 26, 2017, 08:35:21 AM »
New mustachian here, and I'll fallen in love with the idea of biking more!

However, I have 3 kids 4 and under. 4 year old, 2 year old, 1 month old.

We currently have 2 bikes, a double bike trailer, and a hand me down tag a long which we haven't used yet. I think the 4 year old will be ready to use the Tag a long now, he's close to being able to ride his own bike.
So I'm trying to figure out the best set up. The baby I will probably want in the trailer, either in his car seat or something like this Thule Infant Sling https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FOULZO6/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_yAHIybBSCHXRY unfortunately it's $100. If I put the baby in the car seat in the trailer I don't think they two year old will fit next to him but I'm not sure, with the sling they would both fit.
But, I don't know if my trailer can hook to my tag a long. I did some research and some can, some can't. Also, that would be a super long rig!
Another option is 2 kids in the trailer and one in a bike seat. But then I'd have to buy a infant sling and a bike seat.

Any advice on the best set up?


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jac941

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2017, 11:21:41 PM »
Check out the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Family Biking Guide. It's probably the most comprehensive I've ever seen & there are bound to be some ideas in there that you can use: https://www.sfbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/SF-Bicycle-Coalition-FamilyBikingGuide.pdf

A few thoughts on your comments. I wouldn't do a tag a long with a trailer attached to it unless the trailer was just for cargo. I've double towed before & it's really unweildy & easy for the last in the line to get out of control. Also, kids in trailers can really fight & if the trailer is that far back, you might not hear it until someone is injured -- not ideal.

I've seen the Thule Infant Sling (or something very similar). It's ok, but it's really for strolling not biking. It wouldn't be great with a helmet & it doesn't provide any head protection on its own. You could put the carseat in the trailer, but it will take up the whole space. You'd have to find a solution on your bike for the other two kids (2 bike seats?). That seems like it'd be tough to me.

The least expensive way that I can think of to get your 3 kids onto a bike with your current setup is to wait until your youngest is big enough for a helmet (9-12 months old) & put one kid on a bike seat and the other two in the trailer. At that point, the 4 year old will be 5 & better able to ride his own bike. He should be able to ride his own bike with you sometimes & ride in the trailer others -- like when you're in a hurry or when he's tired.

If you really don't want to buy a bike seat, you could put the younger 2 in the trailer & the 4-5 year old on top of a rear bike rack that's rated for his weight and just tell him to hold on. I've done this with my kids in a pinch, but wouldn't want to do it daily.

A cargo bike is also an option, but based on your post, it sounds like you're looking for a more cost effective solution.

KCM5

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2017, 01:21:25 PM »
I have a setup that would do this easily, but it wasn't cheap.

Xtracycle free radical with hooptie for two older kids and pull trailer with car seat strapped in.

The Xtracycle free radical and hooptie were about $500 and extended the length of my bike, plus is super strong. They keep saying they're going to make a new attachement (leap?) but I have the old one, it works great.

If you don't have a good setup to transport all three kids, it's really not going to feel like an option for you to use daily. So either go all in with a reasonable set up, or wait until the oldest is able to bike alone (6 or 7? I don't know - my oldest is 4).

jac941

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2017, 11:21:24 PM »
Xtracycle free radical with hooptie for two older kids and pull trailer with car seat strapped in.

I have a very similar setup but didn't suggest it because as you say it wasn't cheap. I've got the Xtracycle Edgerunner with a Burley D'Lite trailer. You could do a kid in a car seat in the trailer and 3 kids on the deck. I've personally not done a car seat in trailer, but I have towed 5 kids between ages 2-5 at once (3 on deck, 2 in trailer) and it was no problem.

The Xtracycle is all around amazing for 3 kids once they're in helmets. Put the baby in front and the older kids in back. Then once the baby is around 3, put all 3 on back. It's easy to tow bikes with this setup too. Often my 4 year old wants to ride alone but gets tired halfway or part of the ride is in dicey traffic. No problem -- I just plop him on the deck and tow his bike. It's pretty sweet. Expensive though.

NeonPegasus

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2017, 11:40:45 AM »
The infant should not be riding with you. As another poster pointed out, the insert is for strolling, not biking. Until the baby can sit up and support his/her head while wearing a helmet, s/he should stay home.

I used an ibert in the front of my bike and a trailabike on the back. The set up looks like this

acroy

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2017, 12:09:45 PM »
Badass! Kids are fun.
4yr old should be on his own; if not now, then very soon.
Trailer for the youngers. I've never used a sling but looks interesting. I wait till around 9mo (iirc) to strap the kid into the trailer.
My biker gang last year, ages 3, 5(twins), 7, 9. 1yr old in trailer not shown.
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NatalieMarie

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2017, 02:40:59 PM »
Badass! Kids are fun.
4yr old should be on his own; if not now, then very soon.
Trailer for the youngers. I've never used a sling but looks interesting. I wait till around 9mo (iirc) to strap the kid into the trailer.
My biker gang last year, ages 3, 5(twins), 7, 9. 1yr old in trailer not shown.

Cute! Your 3 year old rides? Or is that a balance bike?
Also you think my 4 year old will be able, once he's riding well, to go for like a mile or more? I was thinking he won't be able to keep up. When we're actually trying to get places.




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NatalieMarie

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2017, 02:43:01 PM »
The infant should not be riding with you. As another poster pointed out, the insert is for strolling, not biking. Until the baby can sit up and support his/her head while wearing a helmet, s/he should stay home.

I used an ibert in the front of my bike and a trailabike on the back. The set up looks like this


Thanks for the advice. I did a lot of research and a lot of people said no babies then other people said they do it. So I was torn!


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NatalieMarie

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2017, 02:44:43 PM »
I have a setup that would do this easily, but it wasn't cheap.

Xtracycle free radical with hooptie for two older kids and pull trailer with car seat strapped in.

The Xtracycle free radical and hooptie were about $500 and extended the length of my bike, plus is super strong. They keep saying they're going to make a new attachement (leap?) but I have the old one, it works great.

If you don't have a good setup to transport all three kids, it's really not going to feel like an option for you to use daily. So either go all in with a reasonable set up, or wait until the oldest is able to bike alone (6 or 7? I don't know - my oldest is 4).

I've looked into the xtracycles, so cool! I'll price it out and see if we can swing it :) saves money on gas in the long run, Right?? That's a good point, if the set up isn't great we probably wouldn't go as much.


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NatalieMarie

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2017, 02:46:13 PM »
Xtracycle free radical with hooptie for two older kids and pull trailer with car seat strapped in.

I have a very similar setup but didn't suggest it because as you say it wasn't cheap. I've got the Xtracycle Edgerunner with a Burley D'Lite trailer. You could do a kid in a car seat in the trailer and 3 kids on the deck. I've personally not done a car seat in trailer, but I have towed 5 kids between ages 2-5 at once (3 on deck, 2 in trailer) and it was no problem.

The Xtracycle is all around amazing for 3 kids once they're in helmets. Put the baby in front and the older kids in back. Then once the baby is around 3, put all 3 on back. It's easy to tow bikes with this setup too. Often my 4 year old wants to ride alone but gets tired halfway or part of the ride is in dicey traffic. No problem -- I just plop him on the deck and tow his bike. It's pretty sweet. Expensive though.

Wow 3 kids on the bike? Awesome. Was it heavy when you also had 2 in the trailer? We have a big hill by my house that you have to go up to get anywhere.
How did you tow his bike?


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jac941

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2017, 11:34:50 PM »
Also you think my 4 year old will be able, once he's riding well, to go for like a mile or more? I was thinking he won't be able to keep up. When we're actually trying to get places.

My 4 year old will ride a couple of miles easily, but it takes FOREVER. He rides between 4 - 7 mph. For really short distances (~1 mile), I'm happy to let him ride, but much further and it gets impractical really fast. Also traffic is an issue. He's small & hard to see, so if we have to go through certain parts of town, he really can't be on his own bike.

Wow 3 kids on the bike? Awesome. Was it heavy when you also had 2 in the trailer? We have a big hill by my house that you have to go up to get anywhere.
How did you tow his bike?

Towing a bike (any size) with the Xtracycle is pretty easy. Just pop the front wheel of the bike you want to tow into the bag & strap it in really well. Then tow away. If you want photos, look here: https://familyride.us/2013/11/15/hauling-two-and-three-bikes/

Yup -- 3 kids on the bike. I've done it several times -- before and after I added the electric assist to the bike (more on that below). The kids sit in a line on the deck. It's pretty cute.

The setup with 3 kids on deck and 2 in the trailer is really heavy. I didn't try that until I added the electric assist. I have towed the trailer with just my 2 without the assist, but the 5 kids on the bike has only been attempted with additional power ;-)

I've had the Xtracycle for 3.5 years & added the assist (the bafang that everyone talks about) about 6 months ago. The driver for adding the assist was the hills -- my kids + the bike now weigh more than I do & I was just dying getting up hills. I mean, it was possible but I didn't find it particularly fun arriving at parties looking like I had rolled straight out of the gym. Also, my 4 year old would sit behind me yelling "faster faster" which was like having a sadistic personal trainer. So I decided it was time for the assist. If you plan to haul 3 up a hill regularly & are really trying to replace a car, I would recommend getting an electric assist.

As far as cost -- the cheapest long tail cargo bike with an electric assist that I have ridden and can recommend is the Yuba Spicy Curry (~$4000 ... probably $4500 once you add the accessories you need). Xtracycle also sells an assisted bike off the shelf, but it's even more. It's somewhat cheaper to add the Xtracycle leap + aftermarket assist to an existing bike. But I struggled with the higher deck & flex in the frame from that setup.

For my family the money we've spent on the bike has been well worth it. We sold our second car when we got the bike & we have put thousands of miles on it ... probably between 7-10k miles. So even with the expensive bike + expensive assist, we're ahead financially. But a family that doesn't really use the bike to replace a car... well that won't make any financial sense.


NatalieMarie

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2017, 11:59:39 AM »

For my family the money we've spent on the bike has been well worth it. We sold our second car when we got the bike & we have put thousands of miles on it ... probably between 7-10k miles. So even with the expensive bike + expensive assist, we're ahead financially. But a family that doesn't really use the bike to replace a car... well that won't make any financial sense.

Is your town bike friendly? Like bike lanes and stuff? I usually ride on the sidewalk but I heard that's actually not legal? My DH said he wasn't sure how safe it would be to take the kids on the busy roads.


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jac941

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2017, 09:22:40 AM »
Is your town bike friendly? Like bike lanes and stuff? I usually ride on the sidewalk but I heard that's actually not legal? My DH said he wasn't sure how safe it would be to take the kids on the busy roads.

I live in a bike friendly city for the US -- about 9% of people here commute by bike. That said, there are so many cyclists and pedestrians where I live, the absolute number that are involved in collisions is high. Most years 150-200 cyclists are involved in some sort of collision in my city. Only a small percentage of those result in serious injuries or death.

I almost always ride on the street and my routes rarely have bike lanes. Instead, I stick to residential streets where there isn't much traffic & where cars rarely go over 25 mph. The city is mostly a grid, so I just ride on streets parallel to the major streets used by cars rather than on the major streets.

I don't like riding in traffic with my kids & try to avoid it whenever possible. Sometimes it's not possible, and I'll either walk the bike on the sidewalk for those blocks, or I'll crank up the electric assist and ride with the pace of traffic so cars have no incentive to pass me. Traffic can be heavy and rarely moves faster than 30 mph even on the major through streets due to the number of traffic lights.

In my experience riding on the sidewalk is much more dangerous than being in the road -- even a busy road. Drivers don't expect bikes on the sidewalk & aren't looking for them, so there are many near misses at driveways.


Kmp2

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2017, 03:08:48 PM »
I will second the extracycle edge runner, or the extracycle conversion kits... we love ours edgrunner! The baby (who is now one) was in the trailer in either the car seat or the infant sling until he was nine months, and um walking.. the bugger! Then we moved him to the yepp child seat, and moved our 3 year old onto the cushion with the monkey bars attachments, both on the back of the extracycle. In Europe they make a Weber infant seat for biking that fits in trailers or an older child's bike seat. It's essentially a whole seat made from helmet foam. But it is generally frowned upon to bike with a <12 month old in North America, so I preferred having him in the trailer where he was less conspicuous. I really like the information they have in Denmark and holland, and Japan about biking with babies. How to get a maxi fit attachment for a bucket car seat, keeping them low in a cargo bike box, letting the air out of tires to help with bumps... etc. So much depends on where and how you are biking.

Have fun, our 3 year old loves shopping by bicycle, even catching snowflakes on the back of the bike. And the ability to tow her bike along so we can carry her if traffic is heavy or if she gets tired will be valuable for years to come.



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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2017, 10:12:13 PM »
Are you comfortable with the idea of baby wearing while bike riding? That might expand your options. I don't think it's common place in the US, but seems prevalent in other countries, Amsterdam and Mexico City pictured:



We only have one, and have a bike seat on the rear of one bike, but sometimes I've found it easiest to strap him in the ergo carrier and put him on my back (he's two).
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hoping2retire35

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #15 on: February 10, 2017, 01:36:20 PM »
Our 4yo twins are good on their bikes but I am more concerned about them riding into the road or something. 2 yo just got his first bike with training wheels; still learning.

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2017, 08:52:21 PM »
New mustachian here, and I'll fallen in love with the idea of biking more!

However, I have 3 kids 4 and under. 4 year old, 2 year old, 1 month old.


For young families like yours, I think our bikes are a great option (and are something you could mount a car seat into for the infant).  Pictured below:



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acroy

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2017, 07:35:45 AM »

Cute! Your 3 year old rides? Or is that a balance bike?
Also you think my 4 year old will be able, once he's riding well, to go for like a mile or more? I was thinking he won't be able to keep up. When we're actually trying to get places.

Did you get it figured out?
yes the kids generally learn how to ride (real bike) at 2-3yrs; by age 4 they are going on the family ride.
I generally hold speed to 7-8mph. Yes it is slow, no we're not in a rush ;) Typical ride is about 4miles. Longest we've done is about 25miles.
If it's just the bigger boys, age 8-11, we cruze around 10-12mph
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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2017, 09:04:12 AM »
Surely this has made the rounds.
Just throw them in a box on the front of your bike.

SimpleCycle

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2017, 05:10:29 AM »
So, I think before you venture out with the kids, you need to become a more experienced cyclist.  Sidewalk riding is unsafe for both the cyclist and pedestrians.  Until you have a good sense of how to cycle safely in your particular area, I wouldn't be throwing kids into the mix.

In general an infant who is less than 6-12 months needs to be in a car seat if you're going to take them on the bike.  I'd probably wait until the baby is old enough for a mounted bike seat, and then put the two older ones in a trailer.

I don't mean to discourage you, but I am a very experienced cyclist and adding things like bike seats and trailers totally changes the way the bike handles.  You want to be a confident cyclist on your own so that adding kids is fun rather than scary.

SimpleCycle

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #20 on: August 02, 2017, 05:15:35 AM »
Are you comfortable with the idea of baby wearing while bike riding? That might expand your options. I don't think it's common place in the US, but seems prevalent in other countries, Amsterdam and Mexico City pictured:



We only have one, and have a bike seat on the rear of one bike, but sometimes I've found it easiest to strap him in the ergo carrier and put him on my back (he's two).

This has occurred to me, because as you say it's common in other countries, but it seems like a no go in the U.S. context.  I know my babywearing group firmly recommends against it and I'm a rule follower.

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #21 on: August 09, 2017, 11:06:20 PM »
Are you comfortable with the idea of baby wearing while bike riding? That might expand your options. I don't think it's common place in the US, but seems prevalent in other countries

This has occurred to me, because as you say it's common in other countries, but it seems like a no go in the U.S. context.  I know my babywearing group firmly recommends against it and I'm a rule follower.

Did they give a reason why?
When I looked it up, that seemed to be the rationale I found: while perfectly fine in other countries, it is not recommended or common practice in the US. No further information given. That doesn't seem like a good reason by itself without further explanation, so much as it seems like some kind of home country bias.

I don't have the same problem with being a rule follower :)
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starbuck

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #22 on: August 10, 2017, 05:23:56 AM »
Are you comfortable with the idea of baby wearing while bike riding? That might expand your options. I don't think it's common place in the US, but seems prevalent in other countries

This has occurred to me, because as you say it's common in other countries, but it seems like a no go in the U.S. context.  I know my babywearing group firmly recommends against it and I'm a rule follower.

Did they give a reason why?
When I looked it up, that seemed to be the rationale I found: while perfectly fine in other countries, it is not recommended or common practice in the US. No further information given. That doesn't seem like a good reason by itself without further explanation, so much as it seems like some kind of home country bias.

I don't have the same problem with being a rule follower :)

Baby-wearing on a bike is against the law in Massachusetts. Other states probably have similar laws.

From http://www.massbike.org/laws:

Quote
You may not carry any child between the ages of 1 to 4, or weighing 40 pounds or less, anywhere on a single-passenger bike except in a baby seat attached to the bike. The child must be able to sit upright in the seat and must be held in the seat by a harness or seat belt. Their hands and feet must be out of reach of the wheel spokes.

You may not carry any child under the age of 1 on your bike, even in a baby seat; this does not preclude carrying them in a trailer.

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #23 on: August 10, 2017, 07:11:38 AM »
Are you comfortable with the idea of baby wearing while bike riding? That might expand your options. I don't think it's common place in the US, but seems prevalent in other countries

This has occurred to me, because as you say it's common in other countries, but it seems like a no go in the U.S. context.  I know my babywearing group firmly recommends against it and I'm a rule follower.

Did they give a reason why?
When I looked it up, that seemed to be the rationale I found: while perfectly fine in other countries, it is not recommended or common practice in the US. No further information given. That doesn't seem like a good reason by itself without further explanation, so much as it seems like some kind of home country bias.

I don't have the same problem with being a rule follower :)

Setting aside that the US is notoriously unfriendly to bicyclists in most places so biking is riskier here than in many other countries unless you're on one of the few paths completely separate from traffic ... and setting aside the risk to your infant if you should fall while the child is strapped to you (in which case the baby wouldn't be wearing a helmet and your weight would be added into the mix) ...

Even if it isn't explicitly against the law, you would be taking a huge risk of getting reported to DFACS/CPS/whatever the child welfare agency in your area is called. There have been plenty of accounts of parents getting reported to the authorities for such crazy things as allowing them to sit in a car for 5 minutes while they run into a store or allowing them to play at a playground unsupervised. That is also something that is different about America than other countries. Even if I thought it was safe to ride a bike with a baby strapped to you (I don't), I wouldn't want take the risk of getting reported.

NatalieMarie

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #24 on: September 03, 2017, 05:59:39 AM »
Hi everyone, thought I'd update
We haven't been riding a ton, but here's what we've done.
When both my dh and I were riding: baby in the car seat in the bike trailer and 2 year old in the rear mount seat, behind my DH. 4 year old on the trailer bike behind me. Now that the baby is older he goes next to the 2 year old in the trailer- DH wasn't a huge fan of the rear mount seat.
When I went alone, I put the 4 year old and the baby in the trailer, and the 2 year old in the rear mount. This was very heavy, so I didn't do it much, and not very far.
Now my 4 year old is riding alone- so fun!! So I've got the 2 littles in the trailer behind me and 4 year old alone. We've only done this twice so far. I get a bit nervous since the roads are busy around us. We've been doing sidewalks so far. Any advice on safety taking young kids on bikes through town? Been trying to take back roads which helps. But it's impossible some times. 4 yr old is a really good listener. But I'm afraid it's harder for cars to see him than me, since he's little!


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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #25 on: September 04, 2017, 06:46:45 PM »
I hear you on the heavy bikes. I used to have a Yuba Mundo when my kids were little and, man, going up hills was a killer. As for making the oldest more visible, bling that bike up, baby! Put a flag on the back axel, put flashing LED lights on the front and back, and put a bell on the bike. At that age, they're like little raccoons and love all things shiny, so they won't be self conscious about rolling around looking like a Macy's Day Parade float.

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #26 on: September 04, 2017, 10:49:44 PM »
Lots of lights, bells, and a safety flag are a good idea.

You could try attaching a pool noodle to kid and your bikes to remind drivers to pass at a safe distance (and to keep them paying attention):
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hoping2retire35

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #27 on: September 05, 2017, 11:43:19 AM »
^^ Thats a great idea. pretty sure I am doing that for my next ride.


edit then again teenagers might thing it is a target, might need to brandish the end of that thing with a little metal and sharp rocks!

NatalieMarie

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #28 on: September 05, 2017, 12:37:35 PM »
Thanks, I'll do all that with the flag and lights :)
Today I took all 3 boys to the store and back and got a bunch of groceries! It's about a mile away. 4 yr old went alone, it went really well!
Then my husband needed something from home dropped off at a job site, I almost took the car but my 4 year old really wanted to bike, and it went great as well! My map said 10 minutes and it took us a little longer but it was a lot of fun! The little ones aren't too heavy in the back at all.
Thanks to everyone for their encouragement and advice, were hooked :)


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Kmp2

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #29 on: September 06, 2017, 11:24:01 AM »
Kids biking on there own can't really be expected to interact well with traffic consistently until they are at least 8 and I suspect some take longer.

I also have a 4 year old new biker, and I am her eyes, ears and judgement - constantly shouting directions. In some low risk situations (like coming up to an intersection where I see there are no cars), I back off and let her make the decisions. She's about 50/50 for making the right decision right now. She also knows that the instant she doesn't follow a direction her bike gets towed and she rides on the back of mine - or she walks. She rides on the sidewalk, and I usually ride on the road to her side and slightly behind. We play games to get her to look farther ahead, and up each driveway.

I love my cargo bike, mostly in its ability to handle kids up to age 7 and tow there bikes when needed :)

Now if only I can keep up with there weight gain!

CanuckExpat

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Re: Biking with 3 kids!
« Reply #30 on: September 07, 2017, 08:17:04 PM »
It's awesome to hear you are out there with your kids doing errands on bike. We need more of that :)
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