Author Topic: I'd like to start bicycling, help me!  (Read 2422 times)

CityBaby

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I'd like to start bicycling, help me!
« on: July 26, 2016, 10:38:14 AM »
Hey,

I'm new to the blog & forums, but not new to MMM and the ideas of getting FIRED and such. My dh has been hardcore into MMM only lately but he has always been very frugal.

So, biking. He is encouraging me to do it, but I am, I dunno, scared? We are car-free  (8 years now) so I am used to the pedestrian life, but we live in an urban area and I'm afraid of getting in accidents, doored and such. Or getting stuck somewhere with a broken bike. And I have two little sons (almost 4 and almost 1) and I need to take them with me pretty much everywhere I go.

Talk me into this.

I don't have a bike yet, but we have a great bike sharing system here that I could get started on, but I couldn't take my sons with me on those bikes.

JJsfr

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Re: I'd like to start bicycling, help me!
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2016, 11:04:52 AM »
You need to work on your confidence in your own biking ability before taking your sons anywhere. I also don't think people suggest taking children under one on bike rides?

Bikes can "break" on you on a ride in 3 ways: flats, accidents, and poor maintenance. You can control flats and poor maintenance issues more than you can accidents. An underseat pouch with a spare tube and pump/cartridges can get you home if you don't go for puncture resistant tires. Keeping your bike in good shape with a good bike mechanic will keep things from mechanically breaking on you during rides.  Accidents? Well, if you follow the law and safe biking practices, you will minimize the likelihood of an accident.

Bike share bikes might be a good place to start getting comfortable on a bike, but you will eventually want to find a bike that fits you and is comfortable. It will also need to tow a bike trailer if your kids are going to go with you.

How bike friendly is where you live? Bike lanes? Bike paths? Sharrows?

nereo

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Re: I'd like to start bicycling, help me!
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2016, 11:40:23 AM »
Agree that it would help to know a bit more about the bike-friendliness of your area and why exactly you are afraid.

Getting stuck somewhere is pretty rare, especially if you carry a spare tube.  Even if you do break down, you can always walk back, call a cab/uber, phone a friend or take public transit.

Often the 'fear' is just doing something new to you.  Do you have any friends that bike that you could tag along with for a few rides?

Jack

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Re: I'd like to start bicycling, help me!
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2016, 12:05:54 PM »
First of all, I'm a big fan of cycling. However, if being a pedestrian is working for you, why change? How would biking improve your lifestyle (other than making your husband happy)? Are you finding it takes too long to get places on foot? Are you wanting to go places that are currently too far away? Are you currently using transit, but want to stop having to spend money on a monthly pass? What problem are you actually trying to solve?

Second, getting doored is something you can entirely prevent by simply not riding in the door zone (i.e., stay far enough away from parallel-parked cars that their doors can't open far enough to hit you). Similarly, many other kinds of accidents can be either prevented or at least made much less likely by appropriate cycling behavior on your part.

In my opinion, the key is to ride predictably and assertively: if you project the impression that you are a confident cyclist who knows your rights and the rules of the road, drivers will treat you respectfully. In urban areas, this predominantly means that unless you want cars to pass you, you should ride far enough into the center of the lane to discourage them from doing so, aka "taking the lane." If you're worried about holding up traffic, get over it. The cars will wait or pass by changing lanes when it's safe to do so. Besides, urban streets typically don't have long distances where passing is difficult anyway, so you're unlikely to get anyone stuck behind you for more than a block or so.

In contrast, meekly trying to "stay out of the way" by hiding in the far right gutter, weaving in and out between parked cars, or worst, riding on the sidewalk, are good ways to invite a collision.

It will also need to tow a bike trailer if your kids are going to go with you.

A "long-tail" cargo bike or bakfiets (Dutch-style cargo bike) would probably be better options for carrying the kids, especially since the OP would be taking them "pretty much everywhere." IMO, a trailer is a better solution when its use is only occasional.

However, either of those two styles of bikes are expensive enough to be a serious commitment and uncommon enough to be difficult to find used. I certainly would not recommend the OP buy either one until she's sure she's going to stick with biking.

Cargo bike:


Bakfiets:

mxt0133

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Re: I'd like to start bicycling, help me!
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2016, 12:49:37 PM »
If your in a big city, first get a used bike.  My wife got a lightly used step through bike for $150.  Got a front and back child seat for my then 3 and <1 year old.  She is comfortable on a bike and mostly rides in the park on sidewalks, never on the streets with heavy traffic.

Once your child can hold their head up, they'll be fine on a bike.

Like others have said you first have to be confident riding a bike before putting your kids on it.  My wife get's around town with three kids and goes as far as 3 miles from our home with them.  Sometimes she walks, sometimes the kids scooter or bike.  You don't have to all bike, basically whatever works for you.

CityBaby

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Re: I'd like to start bicycling, help me!
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2016, 02:02:53 PM »
Thanks for the replies, everyone. You've given me some good ideas to think about, talk to dh about, and try. I'll try to address most of the questions.

Why do *I* *want* to bike? Do I want to bike? Well, being a pedestrian and using public transportation is working alright for me, but I know I could save some transit expenses and get to some places (library, church, take kids to school) much faster on a bike, as well as transport things like groceries and library books. I could also use the exercise, and I want my sons to be cyclists as well so I want to set a good example.

Our city, Chicago, is fairly bike-friendly, with a lot of lanes, bike parking, and such, but I still hear enough stories from friends and the news that I'm scared for myself and my kids, and I do think just getting out there an gaining confidence (on my own first) would be beneficial. I do have a mom acquaintance/friend who is an avid cargo cyclist with her kids, and I could learn a lot from her. I might be just a little intimidated by her. ;-) She is kind of amazing. I bet she would totally let me ride along with her, though, and this fall our older kids will be in preschool together so maybe I should just... ya know... talk to her.

My younger son will be 1 in a couple of months and I'd like to work up to carting both my sons by then, if I can. That will also be when my older son will need to be taken to preschool a couple of times a week. I would LOVE to have a Dutch-style cargo bike, but I know it would be a huge expense, so I really need to make sure I'd get good use out of it first.

There is also the issue of our Chicago winters. Now my husband is a total biker badass. He has literally received recognition and accolades for high volume bike-sharing use in the winter months (He doesn't own a bike, he exclusively uses the shared bikes for many great reasons.) But me, I am kind of a complaneypants when it comes to the winter, and I'm concerned about carting the kids out in that.

But I am excited to start trying during this summer and the most bike-friendly season of autumn. Thanks for your encouragement, everyone!
« Last Edit: July 26, 2016, 02:04:53 PM by CityBaby »

nereo

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Re: I'd like to start bicycling, help me!
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2016, 02:26:47 PM »
Maybe this is a silly question, but why don't you ride along with your husband sometime some day when you have a sitter to watch the kids?
Seems like that's an obvious way of getting comfortable with urban riding...

CityBaby

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Re: I'd like to start bicycling, help me!
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2016, 03:06:10 PM »
Not a silly question at all! But getting a sitter so we can go out together is a pretty rare event. As in, we've been out twice since the second child was born. :) And that's mostly due to his frugality.

I have, in the past, mentioned to him the idea of a little bar-crawl-by-bike-date, but he wasn't too enthusiastic about it then. Maybe he would go for it now, if it was to help me get more riding experience? I think in the past he was concerned about riding with me because of my lack of speed and confidence on a bike (I'm a foot shorter than him and haven't been a regular bicyclist since the early aughts, so I can't keep up with his regular speed) but he just might be willing now.

Jack

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Re: I'd like to start bicycling, help me!
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2016, 03:29:43 PM »
I do have a mom acquaintance/friend who is an avid cargo cyclist with her kids, and I could learn a lot from her. I might be just a little intimidated by her. ;-) She is kind of amazing. I bet she would totally let me ride along with her, though, and this fall our older kids will be in preschool together so maybe I should just... ya know... talk to her.

An excellent plan!

I would LOVE to have a Dutch-style cargo bike, but I know it would be a huge expense, so I really need to make sure I'd get good use out of it first.

There is also the issue of our Chicago winters. Now my husband is a total biker badass. He has literally received recognition and accolades for high volume bike-sharing use in the winter months (He doesn't own a bike, he exclusively uses the shared bikes for many great reasons.)

Not a silly question at all! But getting a sitter so we can go out together is a pretty rare event. As in, we've been out twice since the second child was born. :)

Hmmm... given this new information about your husband, I rescind my lack of recommendation to immediately buy a bakfiets. Go ahead and get it, but have him haul the kids around with you on your "get comfortable biking" rides together! Then simply swap bikes when you're ready to start going out on your own. If I'm not mistaken, at least some models are designed to be "one size fits all" (or close enough, hopefully).

CityBaby

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Re: I'd like to start bicycling, help me!
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2016, 04:37:27 PM »
Jack, that's a great idea! :D

letired

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Re: I'd like to start bicycling, help me!
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2016, 04:51:48 PM »
Some cities also have 'biking safety' classes that do classes and then take a group of cyclists out. That might be a good way to build confidence as well.

If your husband uses the bike share all the time, that seems like a good place to start with biking!

Also, that mom who cycles with her kids would probably LOVE to talk to you about her experience!