Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Manifest event will demystify family riding

Posted by on October 20th, 2009 at 10:53 am

Would a Dutch bike work for your family? Or would a bakfiets/Madsen/trailer/Xtracycle suit you better? Find out this Sunday.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The six-week Oregon Manifest has showcased handmade bicycles, bike fashion, art, and more. On Sunday, the headline act is family biking.

Families are the new fixed gears. Don’t believe me? Consider this: The number of families out on the bikeways grows by leaps and bounds each year; new products to service the growing niche are coming out all the time; and it’s becoming the thing all the cool families do.

Walk and Bike to School Day

The Xtracycle is a very popular option.

But there are still many moms and dads who are yet to take the plunge. Not only are safety concerns more acute for some folks when kids are in the equation, but there are a lot of bike configurations and product questions that come up.

Thankfully, the folks at Oregon Manifest have made this Sunday (10/25) Family Bicycle Transportation Day. Sponsored by Metro’s Drive Less. Save More. campaign, the event will feature a “huge selection” of family bike products that will be free to demo all in a “fun atmosphere” and all in one place. Here’s more from the event description:

“We’ll have many easy and flexible options on hand, including bakfietsen, cargo bikes, trail-a-bikes, front-loading child seat options, bike trailers, tandems, electric-pedal assist electric-assisted bikes, helpful accessories and more.”

There will also be information and resources on everything from safe routes to school (and work), tips on riding with kids, bike maintenance, and a prize raffle with proceeds to benefit the Community Cycling Center’s upcoming Holiday Bike Drive thrown in for good measure.

Here’s a list of exhibitors signed up so far:

It all happens this Sunday at the Oregon Manifest Bike Union (539 NW 10th at Hoyt)

The product demo and info-sharing portion of the event goes from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm and will be followed by a Family Transportation Solutions Workshop from 4:00 to 7:00. The workshop requires an RSVP and spaces are still left. We’ve posted more information on the workshop here.

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  • Beth October 20, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Wish we had something like this in tahoe

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  • AaronF October 20, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    “…it’s becoming the thing all the cool families do.”

    Well then!

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  • redhippie October 20, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    As discussed in the previous entry regarding cyclocross and the “presence of more kids than dogs”, the timing of this event is incompatible with the timing of next weekends roudiness at Wash. Co. fairgrounds.

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  • Quentin October 20, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Riding with kids on your bike like the picture up top looks dangerous. If mom or dad couldn’t react in time and fell over, it’s a long way down for a kid riding on the handlebars. Hauling kids in a trailer seems much safer.

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  • Chris October 20, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Both of those options look iffy at best. I would guess the CPSC would not touch any of those with a 50ft poll.

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  • portland biker October 20, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    …and the day before this event is a Portland bike ride beginning at Noon at Colonel Summers Park. We then ride to Pioneer Square in honor of the Global Day of Action and the 350 Climate Change Movement– October 24th!

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  • Brad October 20, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    “Families are the new fixed gears.”

    “Cool” families are doin’ it.

    Great! Now I have to properly curate my wife, child, and dog. Since this is Portland, should I be palping a chocolate lab instead of a small terrier? I’d hate to be ridiculed next time we roll into Stumptown. They’ll look at me like a fakenger.

    Do they make skinny jeans and ironic t-shirts for toddlers? Can you buy a Republic or Traitor fixie with 12″ wheels?

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  • Becky October 20, 2009 at 2:19 pm


    I’ll bet statistically it’s still safer having kids on a bike like this than strapping your child in a car seat and driving around.

    If you look more closely at the first picture, the child is in a seat and strapped in.

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  • AaronF October 20, 2009 at 2:51 pm


    I wonder where you get this hunch from?

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  • David C. October 20, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Kid hauling as seen in the photo above is safe. Thousands of parents carry their kids around like this in other parts of the world, and do so without worry.
    Some kids even ride backwards (http://amsterdamize.com/photos/album/72157622485513585/photo/4022476818/cycle-embrace-cycle-embrace.html) in their seats-not a care in the world. Doing so without wearing a helmet. Imagine that.

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  • mbsf October 20, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Hi guys,
    if you are local and want to discuss this more, please do sign up for the Family Bicycle Solution workshop! It’s NOT about teaching you how — It’s about sharing experiences, ideas and thoughts in a constructive way. Goal of the workshop is to get something to put in front of city planners, the industry and the bike media…

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  • Chris October 20, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Having the kid sitting on a wood rack and “hanging on” is not safe.

    “Thousands of parents carry their kids around like this in other parts of the world”

    Ya, great example. The everyone is doing it mentality.

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  • David C. October 20, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Just a statement of fact Chris. One of truth too.
    Thousands of parents in other parts of the world do carry their children, as seen in the above photo.
    Safely. Securely. Happily.

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  • Chris October 20, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    In the places they are used I bet the cars per capita is way way lower than ours.

    When this kind of thing and most push bikes are sold in the US they have to be imported as a toy so they do not have to pass the safety standard as a bicycle or bicycle accessories. If they are safe then why do they not pass our standards?

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  • BURR October 20, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Chris – Bicycles of all sizes are still classified as ‘toys’ by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).

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  • Carl October 20, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Oooh! Oooh! Can we gripe about helmets now?

    This is sure to be an interesting event. It’s great that Metro is getting it such great publicity. I was in a bar this weekend and there was an ad for it on TV! That’s taking things up a notch for bike stuff… Way to Metro.

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  • Sal October 20, 2009 at 6:02 pm


    bicycles are under sporting goods not toys as far as the CPSC goes.

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  • Zaphod October 20, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    I bet that those who have commented negatively about safety on an Xtracycle have never gotten a ride on the back. It is safe… as safe as being on any bike. Sitting watching TV eating junk food… *that* is dangerous.

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  • JayS. October 20, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Don’t knock it till you try it.

    How is a board that extends in front of and behind a child less safe than a standard bike seat?

    Having the child between parents arms and strapped in is in about the best possible position. After trying many of the options for family bikes and talking to parents who use the options I have not tried, I find a trailer, while quite functional is probably my last choice for hauling kids.

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  • todd October 20, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Most pronouncements about what is and isn’t safe assume local conditions that are far from universal. What’s safe enough in Amsterdam may indeed not be in the automotive ghettoes of most post-1920’s development in North America. What’s not very safe on 82nd Avenue, or in Beaverton or Vancouver or even on Hawthorne might be quite safe on 90% of the inner East side’s non-arterial streets. Yes, we’re special. Celebrate and exploit the goodness near you without denying the goodness of places you don’t live or know.

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  • inwe October 20, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    I live just outside of Seoul, in a city where the bicycle facilities are horrendous, the average road is ten to twelve lanes, and there are vastly more cars, pedestrians, bicyclists, and ninja-masked scooter drivers than anything I’ve seen in the states. The scooters go anywhere they want (sidewalks, pedestrian overpasses) and city buses tend to run red lights just because they can. My point is, Koreans would laugh all at all this. The average bike here is either a cruiser or mountain bike, most with smaller wheels (easier to get in elevators). Kids, spouses, friends, grandma holding the toddler- everyone rides sitting sideways on a standard (narrow) rear rack. Older kids even ride around with their friends standing on that rack and holding on to their shoulders. Sure, they also have kid seats and trailers in every configuration available, but these are the minority.

    And sure, it looks unsafe. It looks insane sometimes, but keep in mind, Korean parents care about their kids (and grandmothers) just as much as those on the other side of the Pacific. They wouldn’t be doing it if there was any real risk.

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  • S October 20, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Seriously, I’d love to know if the people that state the pics above are unsafe have ever ridden this way.. Do you even have children? Please back up your negative comments.

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  • Joe Metal Cowboy Kurmaskie October 20, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Ride your children in, on and atop whatever YOU feel safe hauling them around on, just get out there and travel with them by bike. eight years ago I was mistaken for a homeless guy when I was really just a stay at home writer pedaling my son to preschool in a trailer. The easel and paints hanging out of the trailer and panniers didn’t help my look,nor the fact that I had my plaid pajama bottoms cuffed away from the chain with one of my wife’s hair scrunchies, still today I wouldn’t get a second glance, OK, maybe on my tandenm trailabike, trailer set up for three boys, but there are still a ton of families driving a mile or less to deliver their kids to school by car. I’ve been wanting the family ride to become the SUB of a generation for nearly a decade – here’s hoping it catches on big and stays that way.

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  • chrehn October 21, 2009 at 6:59 am

    Yikes! The Dutch bike with two children has nightmare written all over it. I am all in favor of style, however, safety isn’t a bad idea either. It’s important to remember that there is a lot of young studs out there driving jacked-up, 4-wheel drive, diesel pickups, while texting and listening to talk-radio, that like to see how close they can pass those “liberal greenies” on bicycles.

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  • chrehn October 21, 2009 at 6:59 am

    Yikes! The Dutch bike with two children has nightmare written all over it. I am all in favor of style, however, safety isn’t a bad idea either. It’s important to remember that there is a lot of young studs out there driving jacked-up, 4-wheel drive, diesel pickups, while texting and listening to talk-radio, that like to see how close they can pass those “liberal greenies” on bicycles.

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  • S October 21, 2009 at 7:10 am

    How is the dutch bike a nightmare? The child in front is buckled into a seat and the back child is also in a seat. It’s hard to see, but she is in one of those fold up ones with a back. Look closely and you can see the back has a cover on that closely resembles her shirt. Those also usually have buckles too.

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  • AaronF October 21, 2009 at 8:15 am

    By the logic a lot of folks are using in this thread we can assume that anything that a lot of people are doing is safe, since people love their children… right?

    That doesn’t make any sense, people.

    By the same token we could say that driving children around in cars without seatbelts was safe back in the 40s because everybody was doing it.

    Come on now.

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  • chelsea October 21, 2009 at 9:35 am

    I agree with Zaphod (#18). Do you know how many fat, sedentary, unhealthy kids there are these days that are being to trained by their parents to be the next generation that drives half a mile to the store? A whole lot. And to me, that is a much bigger health threat than some kids on a bike. Not that I don’t support being safe, I just think people overreact to some things, and just don’t care about others.

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  • OuterToob October 21, 2009 at 9:52 am

    2 winters ago I hit and spot of black street sludge (hard to see wet leaf goo) on my bike at about 8 – 10 MPH my front wheel slipped and I went down hard onto the road.

    I folded right over the handle bars and the majority of my weight impacted there on the cockpit and the handlebars were severely tweaked as were the brakes etc. Had there been a little toddler or baby there that day they would have been far more injured than I was.

    I’m not sure if anyone else has had a wreck on their bike where they go flying over the handle bars or land right on them, but this would seem to be the ‘danger’ concern with the handle bar baby carrier from my POV.

    An unanticipated crash at slow speeds was a pretty big bummer for me, glad there wasn’t a soft little infant involved too.

    I’m willing to say let em ride up front though, statistically it’s just a matter of time before someone w/ one of these crashes, then they should weigh in w/ the results. Was baby safe or not, you tell us.

    At least this will make it easier to spot which families are ‘cool’ this year though, I was having trouble determining that before.

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  • Quentin October 21, 2009 at 10:12 am

    All I meant was that to look at the picture up top, if that bike fell over while going 7-10 m.p.h., it’s hard to imagine the kid on the handlebars not sustaining a fairly serious injury. Strapped in or not, tipping over from a height of about 3 feet some part of his hands, arms, shoulders, or face is probably going to hit the pavement hard enough to break something.

    I’ve never ridden with a child on my bike but I have crashed a few times and I certainly wouldn’t want something as important and fragile as a child strapped to the handlebars in a crash, even a slow, minor crash.

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  • David C. October 21, 2009 at 10:39 am

    I’m attending this event. Thanks Metro. This should answer many questions people have about hauling family around safely on bikes.

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  • todd October 21, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Quentin, how do you feel about infants in slings worn by pedestrians? Just think how horrible it would be for the poor fragile baby if the parent were to trip and fall, on, say, uneven pavement, or ice, or perhaps have a seizure while walking beside a picket fence with sharp staves. Just think. So unsafe. Nightmare.

    I’ve ridden my bike almost every day for more than 15 years. I’ve traveled thousands of times farther by bike than by foot. Yet I have tripped or slipped and fallen many more times on foot than on my bike. See, bikes very, very rarely fall over when driven carefully. My child has traveled hundreds of times further on my bike than by any other mode. We’ve even fallen. He’s never been hurt.

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  • Quentin October 21, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Nevermind. People should ride with their child standing atop their shoulders while juggling chainsaws and flaming torches while steering with no hands. It is perfectly safe as long as there is some other activity which is statistically more dangerous.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) October 21, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    I’d love to know what folks think of the safety of this method ;-).

    clowning around at camp

    (photo of me and my daughter during a camping trip.. good times!)

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  • JayS. October 21, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Quentin, Thanks for your concern feel free to raise your children any way you like.

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  • LizardMama October 21, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    I suppose everyone has their own definition of safe. I make my xtracycles meet “my” definition of safe with extra handlebars and running boards for feet (also makes grandma happy). I also choose my streets, times of travel, and rules for being on the bike carefully. We’ve only tipped over once… luckily safely, with only one scratch on my daughter buckled into her seat and lots of laughter from my son who thought it was cool. Nothing is totally safe. It is all about minimizing risk to yourself and others while taking advantage of life the way you think best. I’ll try to be there Sunday so we can try to make things even better.

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  • SharpBkr October 21, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    We have a Rodriguez tandem with the stoker seat set up for either my 8 year old or 6 year old sons and a Burley Piccalo trailer attached to the back when all three of us need to go places. Works great, we have fun, people are always impressed when they see it. We bike to school four times a week as long as it’s not snowing nor raining too hard and this in Allentown PA, where it’s not exactly bicycle friendly. I would say our set up is a great way to go if you’re concerned about safety and your kids are too big for kiddie seats. Sure it’s expensive, but its still a lot cheaper than a new minivan. Tandems, the original long bikes.


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  • JayS. October 22, 2009 at 11:17 am

    SharpBkr, Tandems are the way. We have a Bike Friday Family Tandem (extra great because kids can stand over the bike and the center of gravity is lower than a standard tandem) with a child seat (soon to be swapped out for the piccalo) on back. I ride about 16 miles a day with one or two kids on board.

    I don’t think I can make it on Sunday someone spread the word.

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  • james October 24, 2009 at 5:54 am

    OuterToob – what type of bike were you riding?

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