"Did you shrink your bike in the dryer?” teases my neighbor as I walk down the street, pushing my son’s 16-inch bike home. At five, Jasper loves to ride to his afternoon kindergarten class. But I pick him up at an off-site aftercare program, so it doesn’t make sense to leave his bike locked up at school. At first, the walk home involved me leaning awkwardly to one side to reach his little handlebars, but over time I’ve developed a system. As long as I’m on a quiet, traffic-free side street, I push Jasper’s little bike on the sidewalk and walk beside it on the road, so the handlebars are at a more comfortable height for me to reach. It’s not the easiest way for him to get to school, but it gives him a chance to ride his own bike, which turns his commute into an adventure.
Over the years, depending on where we’re going, what the weather is like, what we need to transport and how old our two children are, my husband, Derek, and I have had lots of different biking and walking systems for running errands and traveling around the neighborhood.
When Anna Sierra was a baby, she’d often fall asleep in the stroller and I’d quietly and efficiently mail packages at the post office, pick up a few things at the hardware store and load bags of fresh veggies under her feet after stopping at the farmers market. If we were using the bike trailer and she fell asleep, I’d unhook the trailer from the bike and wheel it around the grocery store or park it inside the coffee shop while I caught up with friends. Naps were golden, and I loved not having to wake her up to run errands.
I asked Derek what he thinks about running errands with the kids on bikes and his eyes lit up. “Errands are part of life, so why not make the most of them by riding my bike and bringing the coolest, most fun people in the world?” Exactly!
Growing into New Rides
As the kids have gotten older and bigger, we’ve had to retire some systems and find new ways of getting around together. For two glorious years – from Anna Sierra’s sixth birthday to just after her eighth – I was able to take both kids easily on my Kona Ute longtail bike. Library books, groceries, school bags, picnics, fabric finds and all kinds of other things fit in my enormous panniers. After loading up the panniers, I’d scoop Jasper onto the back and Anna Sierra would hop on behind him. She’d either hold on to his waist or wrap her arms around him and share the handlebar Derek had attached to my seat post. I loved listening to the kids tell each other stories while I navigated our neighborhood. We were so fast and compact together. With such big panniers, we could combine multiple stops and still carry everything. Because both kids were on my bike, we didn’t have to restrict ourselves to quieter streets or bike paths.