Taking the lane (to the end of the road) with a three year old

“I want to ride my bike with Mummy!”

My son is nothing if not direct and ‘want’ forms a high proportion of the verbs in his sentences at the moment. I blame his genetic heritage (the Danish bit, obviously).

This particular ‘want’ I had anticipated as soon as he could propel himself at speed on his balance bike. “I very faster” he shouts and then I either have to run to keep up with him or vainly shout ‘wait for Mummy!’, ‘mind the people!’ and ‘STOP!’ at intervals as I see him disappear into the distance, pedestrians jumping out of the way.

If you have been terrorised by a speeding, cycling toddler in East Lothian recently I can only apologise – I rely greatly on the kindness and understanding of strangers at the moment.

After a prelimary ride to the woods it became evident that the logistics of riding my bike whilst he rides his are not straightforward if I want to end up with the same number of living people at the end of the experience as we started with.

To get out of our street you have to do one of the following:

1. Ride on the pavement with your child – demonstrated here by my Husband. This requires an immunity to tutting from pedestrians. (You could also push your bike, but this results in the same situation as walking or running).

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2. Ride on the road whilst your child rides on the pavement. This requires the superhuman ability to repel parked cars, driveways, side roads and a child that doesn’t shriek “ride in the road with Mummy!” before launching into the road.

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Unfortunately there are only 20 metres of road in East Lothian that don’t have a line of parked cars along them:

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This next manoeuvre prevented me from seeing my son for a few seconds. Turned out that was a few seconds longer than my comfort zone:

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3. Convince your child to do this multi-modal approach until you can decant them onto a path that you feel is appropriate for their ability. This requires a selection of illicit snacks and a hefty packed lunch to tempt a bike loving toddler to get back into the trailer.

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4. I couldn’t think of anything else

Our lovely friends Kim and Ulli helped us with our first multi-modal excursion to a local cafe as I was a little apprehensive about getting a puncture/the toddler throwing a tantrum/being incapacitated by too much cake or a combination of those hazards. You can find Kim’s thoughts on our adventure here. Be warned: if you are a planner in East Lothian, it’s not a glowing appraisal of the cycling infrastructure that we found on our journey!

It looks like this will be the only lane we take together anytime soon..

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5 thoughts on “Taking the lane (to the end of the road) with a three year old

  1. Of course the real problem is the infrastructure, but while we are waiting for (ever) for that, there is one more good, if expensive, solution: the FollowMe Tandem. I got a secondhand one and I really recommend it. You attach the ‘tandem’, which is a hinged linking mechanism, to the back of your bike and then fit the front wheel of your child’s bike into it. You can tow your child along the road, and when you get to a safe place, you unhook them and they ride off. The handling is superb, unlike tailgators or tag-alongs. When the child’s bike is not attached, you can ride your bike as normal (though it’s a bit heavier). The system works with bikes up to a 20″ wheel ie long after you can no longer fit a child and bike into a trailer (but that’s brilliant too!). You need to fit your child’s bike with a reflector to make it road legal and, because the whole contraption is longer than motorists expect, extra flags and so on might be good to make your vulnerable child extra visible to the motorists approaching from behind.
    If you are interested, look here http://www.followmetandem.co.uk/

    1. You read my mind! I’ve been looking at these for our first family cycle tour next year – two weeks in the Netherlands and Belgium – so I’m glad to hear a good review! Our (current) plan is to take the toddler seat, a trailer attached to one bike and the Follow Me Tandem attached to the other.. We’ll be experimenting over the next few months..

      1. Hope it goes well, and I’m sure there are lots of parents who would like to hear the details.
        The FollowMe isn’t perfect (mass manufacturing would allow them to iron out some of the fiddly/rattly bits and possibly reduce the weight a bit too), but I wish I’d had one for my first child and cut out all the tag-along stage.

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