Author Topic: bike commuting with a toddler - trailer vs bike seat?  (Read 2009 times)

FLBiker

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bike commuting with a toddler - trailer vs bike seat?
« on: March 09, 2017, 11:31:14 AM »

tl;dr - Any bike commuters w/ toddlers have opinions on trailers vs. bike seats?

My wife is going back to work this fall, and DD is going into daycare.  She'll be ~2.5 years old.  I'll likely be doing drop off in the morning, and I bike commute.  It's about 5 miles, mostly on roads (quiet ones) without bike lanes.  We have an old (but structurally sound) Thule Chariot bike trailer that a neighbor gave us.  In preparing for this, though, I've started to think that I might prefer using a bike seat instead.

My current thinking is that a trailer is safer if there's an incident (meaning if the bike hits the ground for whatever reason) but that it also makes such an incident more likely, by making me less nimble, wider, and less able to go off road in a pinch.  At the same time, I really don't like the idea of my daughter falling from the height of a bike seat onto the road.

I'm a fairly experience bike commuter (been riding this route daily for 5 years, commuting other routes / places for about 10 years before that).  I think I'm a pretty safe rider.  I've never had an issue with a car, and I've had two accidents in the past 8 years.  One was TOTALLY my fault (PSA time: hey kids, don't talk on the phone while riding with no hands in the dark. sometimes, there are speed bumps.) and the other was a mechanical failure (took a tumble when the crank arm broke in half).

Right now, I'm kind of leaning towards the bike seat.  If I wasn't worried about it being less safe, I'd definitely go with it.

Thanks for your experience.  If you need any additional info, just ask.

Mother Fussbudget

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Re: bike commuting with a toddler - trailer vs bike seat?
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2017, 11:55:40 AM »
Trailer.  More versatile - you can use it for the kiddos, or groceries, or whatever.  We had the 'tag-along' 3rd wheel bike thing where the toddler could pedal along with us, and it was fun, but my sons were older - 3-to-5

FLBiker

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Re: bike commuting with a toddler - trailer vs bike seat?
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2017, 11:58:11 AM »
Thanks!

I've done a bit more googling since posting this, and it seems like folks are pretty pro-trailer from a safety POV.  That said, I ride on the shoulder / in a lane most of the way, and I'm a bit worried about the outside trailer wheel dropping off the road.  I think next week I'll just bike in with the trailer and see how it goes.

Another concern I have is that it's another set of potential flat tires.  No big deal, but still.  And locking it outside my office should be OK.

honeybbq

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Re: bike commuting with a toddler - trailer vs bike seat?
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2017, 01:16:18 PM »
Trailer for sure. Those bike seats make the bike very top heavy. Granted I'm a small person, but an experienced biker and I struggled with my DD. When they are low to the ground it's just the weight you have to pull, not 'balance' if that makes sense.

mm1970

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Re: bike commuting with a toddler - trailer vs bike seat?
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2017, 02:13:22 PM »
Funny you should ask.  I've never biked with the kiddos (when we had our first, and googled, it seems most doctors recommended the method of "wait till your kids can ride a bike").

I've got friends who have done the front seat and the back seat.  The trailer for me seems like I'd worry about cars not seeing it/ low to the ground.

But anyway, on my way to work today (in my car, though I biked yesterday), I came upon my bad-ass friend (female) biking her kids to preschool.  Two kids, in seats, on the back.  (She does have electric assist.)

It kinda looked like the second one down on here:

http://bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/468/recommendations-for-transporting-twins-on-the-front-of-a-bike

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: bike commuting with a toddler - trailer vs bike seat?
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2017, 02:58:52 PM »
I think you are mistaken about a trailer accident being more likely. They are super stable. If you are worried about width, you could get a single trailer. Otherwise, I would say always go double for the extra storage space!

The one time I have fallen off my bike (skinned my knee pretty good, thankful it wasn't worse) I was using a Piccolo--a trail-a-long bike that attaches in the same place a bike seat would--with panniers. (The tot was uninjured.) The weight back there makes it harder to balance, especially when stopping.

Plus, daycare drop-off IME can involve a pretty full bag of Things. Clean blankets, change of clothes, etc. You may need the cargo space.

FWIW I biked around with a trailer for years and only ever had 1 flat. It was a blowout and I may have exceeded the weight limit. (2 preschoolers plus the cargo area stuffed full of groceries.) Sounded like a gun going off but I changed it in 5 minutes.

The children did not wake up during the entire procedure.

FLBiker

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Re: bike commuting with a toddler - trailer vs bike seat?
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2017, 07:33:36 AM »
Thanks for the answers.  Sounds like trailer is definitely the way to go.  I "mentally" biked in with a trailer today and I think my route is pretty good.  On the way home I think it's worse (more sidewalk / narrow shoulder) but the trailer will be empty on the way home, so that makes me less concerned.  I'm planning to bike in with the trailer next week and see how it goes.  And in terms of visibility, I'll definitely put a flag on it.  I'm pretty high-visibility as it is -- reflectors, lights, reflective stickers, reflective vest.

The idea of loading DD into the bike seat and then getting on the bike hadn't even occurred.  That does seem tricky, and it's easy to do with the trailer.

Thanks again for all the feedback.  I'm toying with the idea of getting a new trailer (just because the hand-me-down one we got is kind of beat up) but I'll probably start with that one and see how it goes.  I read good things about the Allen Sports Child Jogger Trailer (which also functions as a jogging stroller, and I run) which is $160 on Amazon. -- https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A8KIY1Y/

mca1021

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Re: bike commuting with a toddler - trailer vs bike seat?
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2017, 08:01:41 AM »
I'm going to go against the group and say bike seat.  For me, dealing with the trailer at work was not worth the storage space.  And in the bike seat I could talk to her (she rides her own bike now).  It will depend on how much stuff you need to cart around every day.  If you need to brings lots of stuff for kid or yourself then the trailer may be better.  But if you can streamline your belongings the space savings of the bike seat were totally worth it for us.