Author Topic: Bike Commute with 5 year old  (Read 806 times)

SimpleCycle

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Bike Commute with 5 year old
« on: June 21, 2020, 07:49:16 PM »
This summer my daughter is going to a YMCA camp that is about a mile from our house on fairly busy city streets.  She just turned 5 and I'm wondering what suggestions people have for getting her there safely and efficiently.  She's 44 lbs and 41 inches.  I'm a pretty experienced cyclist but haven't biked with her on the bike before.

Things I have considered:
1. A Yepp Maxi bike seat
2. A Tyke Toter front seat
3. A trail a bike
4. Saying "screw it" and driving

I haven't done any biking with the kids so far, so I'm new to the child on the bike options around.  Any thoughts and pros/cons would be greatly appreciated.

acepedro45

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2020, 10:01:54 PM »
I tote around a 3 and 1-year-old all day long in a trailer.

How close is your 5-year-old to riding independently? Obviously that is the easiest solution. But it sounds like the camp start is upon you and there is no sign of her riding by herself as a listed option. Even her own balance bike might be viable if you're able to keep on sidewalks and don't mind taking your time - it's only a mile.

I'm thinking she's probably a little big for the front seat, but others may have different opinions. No idea what the "official" weight limit on the front seat is.

My research showed the trailer as the safest option, but you may want to consider the difficulty of drop off if you yourself have more places to be on your bike and no particular need for pulling around an empty trailer.

I'm not in favor of the screw it option. Kids are watching you for cues on how to behave in the world. I think there's an important benefit to showing your kid that not everybody has to drive a polluting minivan a mile to school, and in fact those people should be the ones regarded as oddballs. The lesson counts triple if it comes from mom/dad.

Shane

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2020, 12:09:53 AM »
Since it's only a mile, walking might be an option, with the added benefit that it wouldn't require purchasing any new gear and might be a safer, although slower, way to get your daughter to camp. If your daughter's not yet up to walking the whole mile on her own, you could bring along a carrier and let her ride on your back after she gets tired.

ditheca

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2020, 01:05:14 AM »
I'm fond of the ride-a-long option.  I don't know if they have a standard name, but I've got one and the kids love it.

My kids are 8-12 now and still like to ride "with me" sometimes instead of on their own bike.

Example:
https://www.amazon.com/WeeRide-Co-Pilot-Bike-Trailer-White/dp/B00BD45NJ0?ref_=fsclp_pl_dp_1

Dee18

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2020, 04:56:12 AM »
When my daughter was that age the trail-a-bike was perfect.  She quickly learned and imitated my hand signals for turns, became more used to the balance of a bike, and got used to pedaling linger distances (and could take a break if she was tired.) Advantages for me were also great: we could converse since we were so close and I could relax, knowing there was no chance she would swerve out into traffic on her own bike.

MayDay

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2020, 05:12:40 AM »
Highly recommend a trail a bike. Our kids loved them at that age. I wouldn't have her bike on busy roads independently at that age.

MayDay

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2020, 05:14:45 AM »
I'm fond of the ride-a-long option.  I don't know if they have a standard name, but I've got one and the kids love it.

My kids are 8-12 now and still like to ride "with me" sometimes instead of on their own bike.

Example:
https://www.amazon.com/WeeRide-Co-Pilot-Bike-Trailer-White/dp/B00BD45NJ0?ref_=fsclp_pl_dp_1

We had this brand and it was great. Not as wobble free as the many hundreds more high end ones intended for very long rides, but great for 1-10 miles around town. We even used it for a 20 mile family ride once with no issues.

For a while we actually had two, when our kids were 4 and 6. Much less work to pull than a trailer, lots of fun for kids, everyone is happy.

havregryn

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2020, 05:39:05 AM »
I don't drive so I do all of my commuting with kids with bike and I have three (kids..also bikes). I have every possible configuration out there to transport them. For this age, I second trail a bike as an option and I also have a bike seat called Yepp Junior that has a longer lifespan than Maxi if you are starting at almost 5  https://hollandbikeshop.com/en-gb/bicycle-seat/yepp-bicycle-seats/yepp-bicycle-seat/yepp-junior-bicycle-seat/
I personally liked the seat better for that age, especially if your kid is not very tall and heavy like mine, husband prefers trail a bike.




ericbonabike

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2020, 06:07:01 AM »
I have a two year old I tote around. I was using a Thule trailer but he was getting bored on longer rides (anything more than about an hour).
We considered getting a maxi, but I was worried how it would scale as he got older and bigger.  Mostly because the center of gravity.  I have never ridden with a bike seat like that, but I’ve gone bike camping with saddle bags.  And I can feel it then, so it definitely has to shift it up.
We eventually bout a weehoo turbo. 
We’ve had it about two weeks.  We’ve hiked for about an hour on and he likes it fine.
Last week, my nieces and nephews were in town and I took a 5 year old and 8 year old on it.   What was nice was that the older they got, the more they could pedal.  So I didn’t really feel the extra weight when going up hill.  But it mounts to your seat post and it does affect the center of gravity more than a bike trailer which mounts into your axle. 


SimpleCycle

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2020, 06:55:56 AM »
Thanks for all the great feedback.

A little more info - she's still on a balance bike and is hesitant to try the "real" bike, so not ready to ride that distance independently.  I actually think a trail-a-bike/tag along might help with her confidence to get on a real bike herself.

Walking/toddler tula is a reasonable back up plan.  We did the 0.6 mile walk to/from school pre-pandemic, but she often was super tired in the evenings after a full day of school and it took forever.

I'm totally intrigued by the Yepp Junior - they seem hard to find here in the states!

TrMama

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2020, 08:29:24 AM »
Ditto on the trail-a-bike. My kids loved them at that age and like you said there's zero risk of her swerving into traffic (or stopping in the middle of a busy intersection to scratch their nose). Since we live in a hilly area I also really liked that they could pedal uphill. They quickly learned the rule of, "Pedal when mom pedals. Stop pedaling when mom stops."

If her balance is still a bit unsteady you can get a seat back attachment that'll keep her from falling off backwards. And make sure to put a tall flag and a bunch of lights on it if you're riding in heavy traffic.

My second choice would be a bike trailer simply because it's so useful for carrying cargo (groceries) once she's mature enough to ride her own bike.

erutio

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2020, 08:52:37 AM »
Thanks for all the great feedback.

A little more info - she's still on a balance bike and is hesitant to try the "real" bike, so not ready to ride that distance independently.  I actually think a trail-a-bike/tag along might help with her confidence to get on a real bike herself.

Walking/toddler tula is a reasonable back up plan.  We did the 0.6 mile walk to/from school pre-pandemic, but she often was super tired in the evenings after a full day of school and it took forever.

I'm totally intrigued by the Yepp Junior - they seem hard to find here in the states!

A couple of things.  Are you on the Chicago Family Biking facebook group?  Great group, lots of info and resources there.

Also, Yepp Junior Seats are super hard to find.  Not available commercially in the US, I believe.  I have a Yepp Junior for sale, bought from a local bike shop that imports them directly from Amsterdam.  I still have original receipt.   My daughter has grown out of oit.  If interested, can DM me.  I'm in Chicago.

GuitarStv

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2020, 08:58:54 AM »
I have been riding with my son on a trail-a-bike since he was four years old.  He has always loved it.

I'm 200 lbs, but even so what I've noticed though is that as he gets older (he's six now) and heavier it's a little more difficult to ride with him (especially in the wind) because his weight can balance/unbalance both of us.  This requires additional care when cornering.  It also means that it feels to wobbly for me to comfortably stand while climbing steep hills.  Also, be aware that these attachments are very heavy (I think ours clocks in at more than 30 lbs!) and will make climbing steep hills pretty difficult.

We have done about 400 kms together on it this year, and probably about 900 kms total since we got it.

Barbaebigode

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2020, 10:41:53 AM »
My son weights about the same as your daughter and I take (or used to take him before covid) him to school on a bike seat mounted in my electric bicycle. The seat holds up to 25kg, but there are models that go up to 50kg. It's practical and cheap, though I might eventually try one of those trail a bikes

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2020, 11:40:48 AM »
Our daughter is younger (2), but we use a Thule trailer and it works great for us.  We were actually turned onto the idea by a close friend who has a son (now 5) that still rides in hers.

If starting from scratch we might go with the trail-a-bike.

havregryn

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #15 on: June 22, 2020, 02:16:20 PM »
Thanks for all the great feedback.

A little more info - she's still on a balance bike and is hesitant to try the "real" bike, so not ready to ride that distance independently.  I actually think a trail-a-bike/tag along might help with her confidence to get on a real bike herself.

Walking/toddler tula is a reasonable back up plan.  We did the 0.6 mile walk to/from school pre-pandemic, but she often was super tired in the evenings after a full day of school and it took forever.

I'm totally intrigued by the Yepp Junior - they seem hard to find here in the states!

A couple of things.  Are you on the Chicago Family Biking facebook group?  Great group, lots of info and resources there.

Also, Yepp Junior Seats are super hard to find.  Not available commercially in the US, I believe.  I have a Yepp Junior for sale, bought from a local bike shop that imports them directly from Amsterdam.  I still have original receipt.   My daughter has grown out of oit.  If interested, can DM me.  I'm in Chicago.

One time I was going to work on the bike that has this seat installed and I noticed some guy who was originally going in the other direction suddenly turned around and started following me. Scared the shit out of me, all he wanted was to ask about the seat. It is really remarkably convenient for transporting kids who are too big to comfortably fit into one of those standard seats (both of my sons are in the 99th percentile for height so they grew out of toddler things while they were still toddlers mentally).
That's great that you are in the same area, I had no idea it would be hard to find. I can totally get it why they need this in Netherlands, they're quite tall on average and it was definitely a problem for us that there was this long period when our oldest son was too big for the toddler seat but too toddler-like in his behavior for any other solution.

K_in_the_kitchen

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #16 on: June 22, 2020, 02:35:53 PM »
I would consider something along the lines of an electric assist Xtracycle (or similar bike without the name).  I wish I'd had one when my boys were little, and I'll consider getting one if I ever have grandchildren, assuming they live in the same town and I see them often.

Other than that, I'd go for a trailer, since it would be multipurpose, and they can often be found used. I bought a nice one last fall at Goodwill for $20, with the stroller conversion as well, and I don't even have a child anymore.  We wanted a second cargo trailer, and as a bonus I can use the safety restraint to make it a dog trailer.  The stroller conversion is nice because I can use it to walk to the grocery store and haul stuff back.

Walking is also a good option for that age.  If you have or can buy a used jogging type stroller, you could use it at pick up just in case she's tired.

When we had young children we started with a double child trailer, then we got a trail-a-bike. I wouldn't want to use the trail-a-bike in busy city traffic.

SimpleCycle

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #17 on: June 22, 2020, 07:53:40 PM »
Thanks for all the great feedback.

A little more info - she's still on a balance bike and is hesitant to try the "real" bike, so not ready to ride that distance independently.  I actually think a trail-a-bike/tag along might help with her confidence to get on a real bike herself.

Walking/toddler tula is a reasonable back up plan.  We did the 0.6 mile walk to/from school pre-pandemic, but she often was super tired in the evenings after a full day of school and it took forever.

I'm totally intrigued by the Yepp Junior - they seem hard to find here in the states!

A couple of things.  Are you on the Chicago Family Biking facebook group?  Great group, lots of info and resources there.

Also, Yepp Junior Seats are super hard to find.  Not available commercially in the US, I believe.  I have a Yepp Junior for sale, bought from a local bike shop that imports them directly from Amsterdam.  I still have original receipt.   My daughter has grown out of oit.  If interested, can DM me.  I'm in Chicago.

Wow, cool!  I just joined the Facebook group, it looks very helpful.

Let me think on the Yepp Junior (and obviously don't hold it for me) - they look very cool but I'm not sure yet.

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #18 on: June 22, 2020, 08:17:40 PM »
We had a similar commute to preschool pre-pandemic.

1. Simplest and safest was definitely the rear-seat: nothing too unwieldy to deal with during and after drop-off. I recommend checking the weight limit as some are only rated up to 45 lbs. We have stainless steel racks that are rated to 65 lbs.
2. DS preferred to ride his bike (or scooter when he was younger), lock it up there, and I would run there-and-back if I had time. Similar to what you allude to with your daughter this could be pretty slow on the way home!
3. DS currently loves the trail-a-bike, but as noted above, they definitely have a tendency to suddenly veer if the rear rider loses focus. Not my preference for busy roads.

I still use a bike trailer occasionally, but I feel it's more trouble than it's worth for such a short trip.

The_Big_H

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2020, 12:05:23 AM »
I prefer the cargo trailer.  Make sure it is sturdy a lot of the cheaper ones have lousy seats.  I have the Burley Solo which even has suspension.

I do not like putting the kid on the rear rack in a seat as it increases the Center of Gravity and if you tip over so does jr.  The burley attachment system does not necessary flip the trailer if YOU crash and even if it does the thing has a pretty decent aluminium cage which would allow for a much less injury prone rollover.

Its also BIG, and RED (or yellow) quite visible. 

Yes, it does drag on you when you are not using it, my commute is 2 miles to the preschool then another 2.5 to work (would be 4 straight to work) so I just 'deal' with the extra weight of the trailer because its still much easier to bike the 2nd half going into work... it feels like I get a mid-way boost losing 45lbs!

Also, with empty bike trailer the cagers still give you plenty more room thinking you got a kid in there.  The most dangerous streets ( SOV commuters, high speed one way downtown roads) I deal with are close to work where I am kid-free. (the kid portion of the ride is mostly residential and schools.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2020, 12:07:32 AM by The_Big_H »

starbuck

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Re: Bike Commute with 5 year old
« Reply #20 on: June 23, 2020, 06:02:13 AM »
So many cool options I've never even heard about!

I would probably take the simplest route - kid on balance bike and walking/jogging alongside. The kid could get a lot of practice working on balance and enjoying the biking, and if their endurance peters out in the beginning, it's a short enough distance to just pick up the bike and walk for a bit. Our 4.5 yo also still fits (and enjoys) the jogging stroller.

Our 4.5 yo recently moved to pedaling on two wheels and it really does open up a lot of choice when it comes to biking as a family. But he really enjoyed his balance bike for about two years before he was finally ready to move up. And to get him there, we took the pedals off first so he could get use to using only the handbrakes to stop instead of his feet. After a week, we put the pedals on and in ten minutes he was riding on his own, including starting and stopping. We got him a Woom3 bike for his birthday and it has been a really great bike for him (and his future siblings since it was so damn expensive.)