Author Topic: Winter bike commuting w/kid  (Read 6135 times)

mgreczyn

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Winter bike commuting w/kid
« on: November 14, 2012, 11:26:47 PM »
I love to bike to work, and on the way I often take my daughter to daycare in a bike trailer.  I did this all summer and fall, but now it's getting cold in Denver and while I have no problem biking my own happy behind around in cold / wet / snowy weather, I do worry that sticking my 2 year old daughter in a bike trailer for a frigid 5 mile ride (30-40 minutes) constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.  As a result, my car is getting more than it's fair share of use lately.  Any tips or advice for keeping my daughter comfy in a bike trailer during winter rides, or should I drive my child to daycare for the rest of the winter because of cold weather? 

Fetlock

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Re: Winter bike commuting w/kid
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2012, 06:35:28 AM »
Be careful. I have heard that this is a very common way for infants to die. I don't know if two-year-olds are as prone to it as babies, but keep in mind that she does not have the benefit of exercise to keep her warm like you do, so if you feel cold, she will be even colder.

That being said, I'm sure she'll be fine as long as you account for it.

caligulala

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Re: Winter bike commuting w/kid
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2012, 08:05:37 AM »
We don't have a car, so we use the bike and stroller with our 1 and 2 year olds in cold weather. They need to have proper outdoor equipment. The 1 year old wears a wind proof and water resistant full body suit, the 2 year old wears a proper outdoor jacket and a couple layers of pants. We ride an extracycle so my body takes most of the wind. We also have those stroller sleeping bags on the stroller. I think the stroller is actually colder for them since it takes longer to walk than to ride the bike. You probably want to check on your kid a little more often when it is really cold, but as long as she's dressed appropriately she should be fine.

capital

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Re: Winter bike commuting w/kid
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2012, 08:57:40 AM »
I ran into this blog post about how one family handled this a while back:
http://longwalktogreen.blogspot.com/2009/03/chariot-for-all-seasons.html
Basically, just add a big square blanket thing. That family has nice fabrics & sewing machines, but it seems like the project is basically sewing a couple of squares with foam. Even if you don't sew, I bet you could find a tailor to do it if you could draw a plan.

TheDude

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Re: Winter bike commuting w/kid
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2012, 09:40:00 AM »
I live in Longmont so pretty much the same climate. So far it hasnt been to bad. My commute is only about 2miles so maybe 10min depending on how long it takes me to get a across the busy street. So far we have just used a winter jacket. The chariot seem pretty closed so it doesn't get a lot of wind. There have been a few days his hands have gotten cold however getting him to keep the mittens on is proving to be an issue. Once it starts to get colder I think we will probably use a full body suit and a blanket.

Just like you should dress for the weather so should they its no reason to stop riding. I also find it helpful to keep a log. Check the weather (temp/precipitation/wind) either when you leave or get to work. Record what you where wearing and how  you felt. Once you compile enough data you can really fine tune the best attire for your commute. I keep a log for both my son and I. Its also hand when the next winter as I always forget what system I had.

galaxie

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Re: Winter bike commuting w/kid
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2012, 09:49:46 AM »
Consider the old-timey strategy of throwing a hot water bottle in the trailer (under a blanket with them, perhaps).  Cozy!

ruthiegirl

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Re: Winter bike commuting w/kid
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2012, 09:53:16 AM »
I lived in Sweden for several years and biking with small children was very common.  I never heard of a child being harmed by the cold air.  While we were there, I routinely walked my older children to school with the youngest in a stroller with moms and babies whizzing around me on bikes and with strollers.  Babies were out  in the cold, often in bike seats. 

Children can tolerate the cold quite well with warm clothes.  My children had excellent cold weather gear -- quality long johns, a good wool sweater, an oversuit, mittens, boots, and a good hat -- they were bundled and very comfortable. 

Goodness, get them out!  My kids loved Swedish winters, they beg to go back. 

We did hear of two cold weather deaths, but both times it was someone who got drunk, passed out on the way home from the pub and died in the snow. 

mgreczyn

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Re: Winter bike commuting w/kid
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2012, 01:01:40 PM »
Thanks everyone for wonderfully thoughtful responses.  The main issue will be getting her proper cold weather gear.  The hot water bottle idea is interesting! 

Mrs MM

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Re: Winter bike commuting w/kid
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2012, 07:49:17 PM »
I didn't read over everything before responding (sorry!), but just wanted to say that we've been taking our son to school in the bike trailer in the winter for several years (now he bikes himself!).  We just dress him warmly, add a cozy blanket, and close up the trailer.  He's always been snug and warm inside.  In fact, when you open up the trailer after a ride, it emits all kinds of heat.

liquidbanana

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Re: Winter bike commuting w/kid
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2012, 07:58:47 PM »
Here's a blog post with some helpful ideas about a family with young kids in Winnipeg, Canada who bike in the winter: http://carfreecambridge.com/2011/11/true-life-stories-melanie-michael-winnipeg/

Captain and Mrs Slow

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Re: Winter bike commuting w/kid
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2012, 02:27:29 PM »
Wow that's hardcore!!!!!!

onemorebike

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Re: Winter bike commuting w/kid
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2012, 03:38:59 PM »
I throw a sleeping bag for my toddler to jump in when she is in a jacket, hat and gloves. Without the wind chill (cover pulled over the front of the bakfiets) she just chats it up the whole ride and is fine. (though admittedly it is a tad shorter than 30 minutes of riding).

I thought about the water bottle myself awhile back but it turned out she didn't need it.