We live in a rural area of central PA. We have only one car and don't want to incur the expense of a second vehicle (insurance, lisence, inspection, etc.) at this time. If I'm gone with the car and our little two year old, my husband can go short distances with the bike if he must. If our son is home with him, that doesn't work. Unfortunately I can't bike very well so I'm practically stranded (unless I call my sister and it suits her to take me or let me use her car) if it's further than I am willing to walk. I am trying to find an affordable, reasonably safe, means of trasportation on small roads (state or township roads) that would not bring with it the ongoing expenses typical of a car. I've googled golf carts, but they seem pricey. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Alternative transportation with toddler?
That's a bike with a motor and battery, correct? So I'd have the same issues with balance as with any other bike, wouldn't I? And, my husband would still have the problem of safely bringing Billy along, wouldn't he? Can you safely bike on a road with some traffic with a two year old? How? Thanks!
Ah, I thought your problem was endurance, I didn't realize it was balance.
Yes, it's possible to safely bike with a two year old. If the road is fairly heavy traffic I would suggest a bike seat front mounted as opposed to a trailer, but a trailer is a possibility. Either way, the little one should wear a helmet, as, of course, should you.
Safety is all relative. Biking is a relatively dangerous thing to do on streets, regardless of your age. But children over 1 year of age can safely wear a helmet and most people feel the benefits of cycling outweigh the risks. Children under 1 year should not go on bicycles because the extra weight of a helmet on their heads combined with the bouncing around they do on the bike or in the trailer is unsafe for their little necks (and obviously they shouldn't go without a helmet).
I personally don't think I would feel comfortable biking with a toddler on rural roads (assuming there are no bike lanes or sidewalks) which most rural roads don't have. I think biking on a road puts you at the same risk of being in an auto accident, but the difference is that on a bike, there is basically zero protection, as opposed to being in a car.
If you were able to take roads with slower speed limits or through residential areas that would be a bit safer I think, but I don't think I would feel comfortable biking on windy, rural roads with higher speed limits (ie. 35+mph)
Thanks everyone! I will definely check into a front mounted bike seat and a helmet for Billy, maybe that would at least enable my husband to go short distances with Billy when I have the car. I do hope they won't need to go on the state route much though...the speed limit is 45 for the most part but many people ignore that. The small township road is much quieter and the little traffic it does have generally drives more slowly.
I would go with a rear bike seat or a trailer.
Consumer Reports recommends against front mounted bike seats as they can interfere with steering and pedaling: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/bike-trailers/buying-guide.htm
I would go with a rear bike seat or a trailer.
Hah, the last time I read up on this the recommendation was against REAR mounted bikes because they throw off your center of gravity. Damned if you do, damned if you don't, I guess
My husband has had problems with balance after being in a serious automotive accident, and we ride to and from work on a recumbent tandem tricycle. The relaxed position makes for more comfortable pedaling, and because the seat has a back, you have support. Some brands to check out include WizWheelz, Cat Trike, and EZ Racers. My mother, who has mobility problems, rides an adult tricycle; it only has a few gears, though.
Rural riding can be a challenge, especially when the road doesn't have wide shoulders. I'd prefer to do my test rides by myself so I wouldn't have the extra concern with keeping a child safe. We travel on a rural highway (the cars go 55, but the shoulders are big in most places, so it's not too scary), but we've also been cycle commuters for years, so the traffic isn't as unnerving as it would undoubtedly be for a first-timer.
My preference for child transport would be a pull-behind trailer; we've ridden with travel trailers and they feel more stable. However, a front seat would allow you to see and hear the child more easily so you can avert a meltdown faster!
Best of luck to you!
Pull-behind trailers can be great, because if the bike tips over the trailer doesn't. The other thing to look into is tricycles with a bucket. You can kit out the bucket for the toddler to sit in (along with, say, the groceries). It keeps it a bit more visible than the trailer, and is very stable for those with balance issues.
One of the big advantages for me of the trailer is the fact that I can carry stuff as well as the child. With a child seat I ended up wearing a rucksac with all the usual kid stuff (snacks, change of clothes etc) and then wouldn't have space for anything else. It was OK for the odd trip to the park but the trailer really made bike transport work for me, we can go to the library/shops or whatever and not worry about how we are going to get stuff home.
The other advantage of the trailer for us was that I could take 2 kids, if you are going ot be in this situation long term and are thinking about anther child it's something to think about. I could still fit the kids in at 6 & 4, though only for short trips, usually when we went to collect DD form school and she was worn out. I was glad it was all downhill on the way home though!
I agree with PacificMar, an adult tricycle might be your solution. There are a growing variety of them used by the greying population in the Netherlands, some plain tricycles (do a Google image search for "driewielerfiets"), some with a cargo bin attached, including ones specialised for transporting children (search for "driewielerfiets bakfiets"). You will end up at Dutch websites but the images speak for themselves and may help you start to talk with your friendly local bicycle dealer. Good luck! My children have always LOVED coming on a bike with me.
My "car" is a Dutch cargo trike. I have a Christiania. There are a few other companies either making them in the US or exporting them to the US, so the number of choices is growing. Anyway, based on the situation you describe, a cargo trike like this *might* work for you but, well, I sort of doubt it. My first reason is the expense, sadly - the cheapest I've seen one new is $2500. Second, and this is just my opinion (remember I do own one!), but I do not find the trike to be that much more stable than a bike. Or, perhaps I should say, it is unstable in it's own unique ways. The biggest issue comes when you take a corner too fast, or when you hit a bump with one of the front wheels while you're turning a little -- the whole bike tips and you have to use your body weight as a counterbalance to bring it back down. I can see how this wouldn't be as much of an issue with a recumbent trike (mentioned in a post above) because of the lower center of gravity. If you're dealing with more bumps and gravel (not smooth/flat roads), then an all terrain bike with a kid trailer might be a good option. This would be economical, and the bike might also be a bit more stable-feeling because of the trailer attachment? The bike trailer might also probably have some sort of suspension system to help with bumps.
Don't get me wrong -- I LOVE my trike!!! BUT I live in a place with lots of bike lanes, quiet streets, and paved bike paths, and the terrain is very flat. The trike wouldn't be my top choice if I depended on rural roads or if I lived in a hillier area.
I just remembered, one less expensive trike option that was really attractive to me is called the Zigo - you might want to look that one up to see if there's a distributor near you? It's a "tadpole trike" just like my Christiania, but the kid carrier can be detached and used as a stroller, and you can also use the bike portion as a two-wheeled bike. The kid portion is lower to the ground, more like a traditional bike trailer, so the center of gravity would probably be a little lower on this bike - this would help with the tipping issue I mentioned above.
I have a Madsen cargo/utility bike. www.madsencycles.com It has two bench seats and four seat belts. You can fit four little heineys in this bike. It's my primary transportation. I have heard many cyclists complain that a bike trailer isn't as safe feeling as riding with your "load" with you in the center portion of the bike, versus a weight being pulled behind. These types of bikes are pricey, that's for sure. If you really need a car, you might be better off putting money towards that. There are many brands of kid-hauling bikes: Madsen, Bullitt, Bakfiets, Gazelle, Cetma, Triobike, Babboe, and Mekaroo. Mekaroo is a new company based out of Ohio. Madsen and Cetma are also US companies.
My husband and I share one car, and at times it gets very trying. Planning ahead is essential, especially when it comes to grocery shopping. Can my bike haul a load of groceries? You betcha! BUT it's heavy and I worry about things melting since we've not gone under 90 degrees since June. I really would like to get a small motor or electric assist.
Have you considered an ATV?