This article was written by our Family Biking columnist Marion Rice. For previous articles in this series, and for links to other articles and photos on family biking, check out the Family Biking Page.
(Photos © J. Maus)
We may be enjoying an Indian Summer here in Portland, but cold, wet weather isn’t far away. I’m here to tell you that even when the weather gets nasty, it’s still no problem getting around town on your bike with your kids (even if they’re not covered in a trailer or bakfiets).
In addition to making sure your bike lights are working and your fenders are installed, it seems like we are all trying to get creative about how to keep ourselves and our little ones warm and dry.
Here are a few tips and product suggestions that might help your family.
For Babies and Toddlers
great outer layer.
Wet Weather Gear:
Last year, I discovered the Tuffo Muddy Buddy (retails for about $30). This is a super, all-weather one-piece suit for children 12 months – 4 years old. Worn alone it�s great for spring and fall wet weather riding. In cold weather, the suit leaves plenty of room for fuzzy fleece pants and a jacket underneath. You can get the Tuffo Muddy Buddy at Clever Cycles (908 SE Hawthorne).
my daughter and her seat.
The DIY Route
Since I have a child seat on my bike, I’ve been looking for something that would keep the seat and my child dry. I decided to retrofit a rain poncho by sewing a placket in the bottom to hold a shock cord which synches up the poncho around the sea. Then I sewed in a reflective triangle on the back. So far it works great and the whole thing cost me about $34.00.
Sunny Cold Days
I always keep our wet weather gear in my Xtracycle bags just in case, but often I just bundle my 2-year-old Gleneden in her jacket and fuzzy pants and then tuck a baby blanket around her into the seat. That gives her a bit of extra warmth and coziness.
Keeping Little Hands Warm
Talk about a challenge! Last year, I couldn�t figure out how to deal with keeping the mittens on my daughter. No matter what I tried, they would inevitably get dropped on the road. One morning, I met another mom who gave me a great suggestion; just attach a string to each mitten and pull it through the sleeves of their coat — brilliant!
Focus on the Face and Neck
My 6-year-old son Griffin hates to get cold. He simply won�t go on the bike unless he is warm. He has rain pants, a good raincoat, rubber boots, warm gloves and a great black facemask made from fleece and lycra (found at REI). He refers to it as his “Ninja Bike Stuff”.
Becky Mellinger, a fellow cycling mom, has also purchased a balaclava to keep her daughter’s face toasty (we tried a scarf but they were bulky and difficult to manage). Children�s balaclava sizes are hard to find, but the sales person at Bike Gallery told Becky to check out the Descente brand. They run small, and found one that works well for her 6-year-old daughter.
I hope these ideas are helpful. Remember, biking in the wet and cold (and even snow) is not too bad once you’re prepared. On the other hand, don’t feel like you’ve got to dress for an ascent up Mt. Everest just for a ride to the store or to school (check out this story on Copenhagenize to see what I mean).
I know there are many more great product and cold weather tips to share. As always, please post your questions, suggestions, and share your experiences in the comments below.
Marion Rice has been producing educational media since 1993. She has been the Executive Producer of a number of web sites for PBS.org including The PBS Parents Guide To Talking With Kids About War and Violence, History Detectives and The New Heroes. Most recently she was the Co-Executive Producer of a web site for parents to help them support their children’s emergent literacy from birth to age 5.
Marion Rice started writing the Family Biking column for BikePortland in 2008. She is interested in developing stories that are relevant to families on all parts of the car free/ car light continuum. In addition to writing, Marion helps the BikePortland team with her experience in fund-raising and corporate development. If you have a story idea or would just like to get in touch, you can reach her at (503) 708-0707 or at marion[at]bikeportland.org.