Saturday, October 23, 2010


Because her new school is quite a distance from our apartment and not very convenient for the commute to our studio, I spent a ridiculous amount of time this fall mulling over our commuting options and concluded that biking would be our best choice.

Much as Tsia might like to ride in a creative solution like this

or this

we don't exactly have storage space for these clever modes. A similar front-basket Dutch style is manufactured here in the States. We also tried and considered the Burley and Chariot trailers, but they weren't practical for our purposes.

A more typical solution (for our purposes) is a back-of-the-bike carrier like this one:

Unfortunately, Tsia is too big (tall, that is) for these seats, which are intended for smaller children. And I was a little nervous about whether I could control a bike with her on it--she's weighs more than a quarter of my own weight, after all:

Then I read and enjoyed this post about the Dutch and their bikes. I love biking in the Netherlands, but I must admit I never noticed all this about their bikes. I'm especially impressed at all the things they carry (another adult? two kids?) and do (talk on cell phones?) on their bikes. So we agreed that, as long as we're careful, I can handle riding her on a back seat.

A knowledgeable biking parent called these seats to our attention. The seats are appropriate for children aged five to ten. They aren't widely available in the U.S. but proved to be the perfect solution for our needs.

Then came the bike part of the equation. I was dreaming of a bike this this one. But they're a bit pricey. And VERY heavy. Especially for getting over the Williamsburg Bridge every day, which is how we get to Brooklyn every day after dropping S at school. I needed a lighter bike with plenty of gears, since the seat adds quite a bit of weight to the bike and the bridge has a decent incline over which to haul all that weight.

New York has also been working to make the city more bike-friendly, with the addition of special bike lanes and accomodations that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. I think we've still got a long way to go before biking will be as widely accepted and easy to maneuver as it is in the Netherlands, but we're making good progress in the right direction.

I still need to take a photo to show you just what we ended up getting. But our new commute has been working out really well, and we're all enjoying it.


  1. Sounds like good exercise!

  2. Anonymous1:53 PM

    I've looked into bikes in recent weeks, but I'm still not sure how practical they are. New York has a lot of rainy, windy, and snowy days.

    In addition, some motorists and even other cyclists don't observe the rules of the road. When I rode my bike to Manhattan as a teenager, a few decades ago, it was always pretty dicey.

    I haven't yet given up the idea, but I need to resolve my reservations.

  3. We recently purchased a tag along for our nearly 5 year old daughter. It essentially turns the bike of your choice into a tandem bike. it's working out well. I especially enjoy that she can help carry her own weight by doing some of the pedalling. It's not hard to maneuver either. Good luck!

  4. Dear Liesl,
    you might be interessted in these two posts – a few friends of mine own one of these carriage bikes from the netherlands and they carry erverything – not only their kids ;-):

    Fortunately we do have pretty good conditions for cycling in the city in Germany.

    Best from Hamburg,

  5. What a great post! I lived in Rotterdam for a couple of years as a student. I had a second hand city bike of the "sit up and beg" variety. So much more comfortable than being hunched over like a racer or a mountain biker. I think a larger sized seat like you linked to would work for Tsia.
    I guess the big difference between "Old Amsterdam" and "New Amsterdam" is the traffic, the road layout and the attitude of drivers. Good luck!

  6. Anonymous1:50 PM

    This might be an inspiration to you:

    There are almost no kids, but LOTS of bikes... Notice the guy with two...

    Happy biking! :-)

  7. Oh, I love that video! Thanks for the link--I went looking for it earlier and couldn't find it. I'm telling you, the Dutch have this bike thing nailed.

    The other day I saw a man in our neighborhood pedaling a woman and two children--all on the back of his bike! So we're making good progress here in NYC...

  8. Kristina P-M10:30 AM

    Thanks for thie post -looking forward to the the solution post! Your daughter and mine are approx same age and up here in Hudson Valley we have these great bike trails but she gets tired riding on her own...I thought about a trail-behind but I tried one and it freaked me out to have her so far behind me esp. since we ride in traffic some all the photos in the bike link, amazing!

  9. Thanks for the post. I live in San Francisco and wanted a bike that could haul my daughter (now 18 months old) and groceries. I ended up with an xtracycle radish with a rear kid seat. My daughter loves it and I can remove her seat in a couple minutes if i'm riding solo. The whole rig was about $2k so significantly more than adding a child seat to an existing bike but less and expensive and more versatile than the chariot styles.
    more info: