Are you having a hard time finding information about biking with your family? We’ve compiled a list of great resources on biking while pregnant, cycling with babies and toddlers, planning your route, teaching kids the rules of the road, and more. (Photo: Ethan and Graham Wild enjoying a post bike-ride snack!)
Biking while pregnant:
There are a few great resources and blog postings on continuing to cycle while pregnant. This blog posting from the San Francisco Bicycling Coalition highlights some of the great health benefits of cycling while pregnant. While they do suggest checking with your doctor first, most soon-to-be moms can easily continue to bike well into pregnancy. I cycled up until I was about seven and a half months pregnant with my son, basically until my knees started bumping my belly! Check out my co-worker Shoni’s tips for biking while pregnant here. Friends have kept riding right up until their due date.
Biking with baby:
When can you start bike riding with your new baby? This is where the information dries up. Until your baby can hold its big bobble head up (around 9-12 months) many sources suggest you avoid biking with baby. Others suggest options like attaching your infant car seat into a bike trailer or a family bike. All sources caution forgoing the bike helmet on infants. Until they can hold their own head up, a helmet may cause more damage than good.
Child bike seats are widely available and can be purchased to either go on the front or back of your bike. These are designed for children aging from about 9 months through to 3 years, but check with your specific manufacturer. (Photo: Karen Loeb enjoying a bike ride with her daughter, Alice)
Child bike trailers are a common sight around Winnipeg in the summer months. There are a number of brand options, including Chariot, MEC, Schwinn, and others. Check with the accompanying manual, or the manufacturer’s website in terms of age and weight restrictions. Some of the models have fantastic trunk space for groceries and kid gear! (Photo: My son Jack, lounging in his bike trailer)
Family bikes/ cargo bikes:
These are a less common sighting in Manitoba, although I have seen a few varieties around town. Locally, Woodcock Cycle carries a cargo bike from Kona called the “Ute”. If you know of others, please let us know!
For kids age 3-6 who can stay awake for the whole bike ride, the tag-along or lift trailer looks like a great option. I have not yet tried one myself, but I’m eager to get started. (Photo: Nathan Wild and son Graham on a tag-along)
Legislation in Manitoba requires children and youth under 18 to wear a helmet while cycling. Sporting your own helmet will also keep you safer and model the behaviour for your children. To adjust your helmet, use the 2, V, 1 rule. Here’s a great video from the Manitoba Cycling Association on bike helmet fit.
Teaching your children the rules of the road:
If you’re looking for some tips on teaching your child to ride a bike, this video is a great starting point. Once your children are ready to bike on their own, teaching kids the basic rules of the road for cyclists and drivers is a must. MPI has prepared a great brochure for kids ages 3-9, I Cycle Safely. If you need to brush up on your cycling skills, MPI also offers an adult version. Keep an eye out for cycling safety sessions offered in the Spring edition of the Leisure Guide.
Planning your route:
Use a Winnipeg Cycling Map to plan your route as a family. Need help deciphering the legend and translating this into a safe route for your family? Try our quick guide to cycling infrastructure in Winnipeg.
Want more information? San Francisco Cycling Coalition has produced a great resource, the Family Biking Guide.