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Photo Focus: Kids on bikes

Posted by on January 14th, 2011 at 3:40 pm

See below for more images of kids on bikes I’ve snapped over the years.
(Photos © J. Maus)


In light of this week’s headlines on the safety of biking with small children, I took some time to sift through the BikePortland photo archives (that currently houses over 22,000 images). I looked for shots that depicted especially memorable scenes of how Portlanders (and one guy from Davis, California) carry kids on bikes. Here’s what I found…

Some dapper young lads from at the 2010 Tweed Ride…

You need a sturdy bike like the Mundo to haul three kids easily and still have room for another…

This young lady is quite experienced. Don’t try this at home.

This is a scene from Davis, California that I snapped in 2008.

Now that’s a cargo bike!

Me and my girls (then 1 and 3 years old) trying out a Haley Trike in August 2006.

One of our friends took her three month old on a 35 mile, overnight bike-camping trip in July 2009.

I’d do it if I were her… Wouldn’t you?

It’s not everyday you see an authentic, imported rickshaw rolling through downtown.

Good thing her daddy is a trained professional.

Have a great weekend everyone! Check out the riding action in the Weekend Guide and I’ll see you back here on Monday.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

36 Comments
  • Allison January 14, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    That rickshaw is a beautiful machine!

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  • Paul Manson January 14, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    I dunno, thats $1,620 in fines there the state could use to….

    Ha! Great pics – and the right spirit! Kidicalmass here we come.

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  • dan January 14, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I have to admit that my first response to some of those photos is “that doesn’t look very safe.” I guess it’s just a question of where you draw the line — how much nanny state are you willing to accept?

    Banning kids six and under from bikes is just another step down the slippery slope from mandating bike helments. At the bottom of the slope, of course, is requiring everyone to drive armored golf carts while wearing padded suits.

    Personally, I don’t really think we need a law to regulate kids on bikes, but I do think that some people should think a little bit more about the things they’re doing with their kids and the potential for injury.

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    • mabsf January 14, 2011 at 5:34 pm

      I had the same reaction – I think is stems from being constantly on display as cycling parents. BUT all of the kids shown in the pictures are alive and thriving.
      Some people call this child abuse, but it’s hard to abuse when you are constantly under the microscope!

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    • Robin Canaday January 16, 2011 at 11:57 am

      Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking too.

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  • Tim January 14, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    They are all so cute. Banning kids on bikes is like hating kittens.

    I started mine on the back of the bike about 1. He had his own helmet. I am not sure the helmet would have done him much good, but it was so cute I couldn’t resist.

    Look what all that time on a bike did to him as a child. He is 27 now and still doesn’t own a car.

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    • April January 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm

      I love hearing this kind of thing! I’m always worried that raising a kid on the back of a bike will make them rebel and drive a big SUV as an adult. Glad to know that, at least in this case, it doesn’t happen.

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  • Chris January 14, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Great post, Jonathan.
    Thanks!
    This is a fantastic snapshot of the good nature behind family cycling.

    Is there a site somewhere (maybe here?) to which we can submit pictures and make a kind of virtual photo wall with user-submitted photos like these?

    These are a great pick-me-up and a reminder of two things to love about Portland: Our families and our cycle culture.

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    • mabsf January 14, 2011 at 5:35 pm

      Try flickr – there are several groups/pools dedicated to cycling with kids!

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  • Andrew Plambeck January 14, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Keep Portland family-friendly!

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  • matt picio January 14, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I don’t know, I think they should consider doing crazier things with their kids and not suing some company when something goes wrong. People are supposed to get things wrong, do some stupid and foolish things, have close calls – it’s part of being human. Part of the reason why we have an obesity epidemic is because we’ve tried to regulate and legislate every bit of danger out of people’s lives. We’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater, and then sued the maker of the bucket and the city for providing the water.

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  • Linda January 14, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    @Dan: “At the bottom of the slope, of course, is requiring everyone to drive armored golf carts while wearing padded suits.”

    I can see the Portlandia episode now…..

    Awesome pics, Jonathan. I actually rode by you and the brood you haul around after the last Sunday Parkways. I just can’t imagine a Portland without seeing kids on the back of bikes or in trailers. What next? Take away the beer and coffee?

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  • MattM January 14, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Doesn’t our government care about 7-year olds???

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  • Paul Johnson January 14, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    I’m pretty sure those “Baby on Board” signs do more harm than good. I’m usually tempted to tailgate folks just for having that sign displayed.

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    • Katie January 14, 2011 at 8:24 pm

      It was actually a gift, and a joke… but I noticed a pronounced difference in car behavior after I put it on. Like, before we were just hogging the road with our big bike, but now were were hogging the road *with a baby*, so that’s ok, then. Lots more space, actually.

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  • hogan46 January 14, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Maybe the picture in the link below is the kind of issue that concerns Rep. Greenlick (courtesy of BSNYC)

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_wb8bAl1P-N0/TSsVNaHcljI/AAAAAAAASYA/BNfx1PclESI/s1600/child%2Bseat.jpeg

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    • Paul Johnson January 16, 2011 at 2:25 am

      Besides the obvious problem if the kid isn’t into being crushed…clearly the person driving the bike is wider than four feet, which is wider than bicycle lanes in most states, so by law wouldn’t she need a WIDE LOAD banner and an oversize permit to ride a bike?

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    • Paul Johnson January 14, 2011 at 11:32 pm

      Oddly enough, that’s about the same ballpark as the fine for riding on the lane line instead of picking a lane and sticking with it.

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      • unotache January 15, 2011 at 4:21 pm

        Just ahead – outside the frame of this picture is the troll I was attempting to avoid.

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  • K'Tesh January 14, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Here’s a some of my photos with kids and trailers or kids on bikes with their parents.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ufobike/sets/72157625826246008/

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  • Paul Tay January 15, 2011 at 12:49 am

    Yep. B.A.N. ’em all, especially the really cute ones with the really bad helmet hair. They might distract motorists and cause crashes.

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  • Dude January 15, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Children should never be carried on a bicycle. It is not safe. Bicycles are not designed to carry children. This coming from an experianced rider.
    http://www.videojug.com/interview/carrying-children-on-bicycles

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    • April January 15, 2011 at 8:08 pm

      I don’t have kids, and I’d still like to politely but definitely disagree. There are cities in Europe where this is all totally normal everyday stuff (and many of the better devices used here to carry kids come from over there) and not a big deal, and kids rarely get hurt.

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    • Julian January 15, 2011 at 10:02 pm

      Dude. I’m gonna impolitely disagree. The last person you should take advice from on kids, bikes, and everyday cycling is a “former racer” and self-styled “safety expert”. Especially one hosted on “videojug”. But thanks for the laughs.

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    • mabsf January 16, 2011 at 1:17 pm

      Dear Dude,
      I totally agree with the ex-bike racer talking about kids on race or road bikes.
      But there is a wide variety of bikes are designed for cargo: Bak fietsen, Yutes and xtracycle can easily accommodate up to 175 lbs of weight in addition to the rider. We are talking about heavy steel frames build for transport, not carbon fiber flimsiness build for speed!

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  • Donna January 15, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Looking at the pictures of these healthy and happy children, I marvel at the hubris of anyone who believes that they are somehow better qualified to parent these kids better than their own parents.

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    • Paul Johnson January 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm

      While your point is valid, I question the suggestion that having created living evidence of the ability to perform the reproductive act makes anyone intrinsically qualified to be a parent.

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      • Donna January 15, 2011 at 9:18 pm

        Please note that I said “pictures of these healthy and happy children”. I work in a place where every day I see children of people who aren’t the least bit good at parenting. None of them look anywhere near as healthy and/or happy as the kids in Jonathan & K’Tesh’s photos.

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  • common sense January 15, 2011 at 11:22 am

    “A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.”
    John A. Shedd

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  • April January 15, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Oh wow!! The fourth picture down? I’m positive that’s the same little girl I spoke with on the bus this last week. It had been icy the night before and was pouring rain that morning, so I took the bus to my appointment in SW Portland. I was taking the #20 from my house downtown and was knitting, when a girl and boy and their father (I assume) got on the bus and sat near me, and the little girl asked what I was knitting. She knew how to knit too, so we spent the next ten minutes or so talking about knitting socks and spinning yarn. She was awesome!

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  • JJJ January 15, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Heavens forbid a child fall and get a cut or bruise. What are we, monsters from the 1980s?

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  • Bill January 15, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    I apologize because this is pretty much off topic….. does anyone know the brand of cargo trailers that are LONG, burly (not the brand) and aluminum? the ones people use to move large pieces of furniture during a move by bike? they typically have triangular aluminum construction along the flatbed for extra durability. Ive been doing Google search after Google search and only the mainstream brands of trailers are coming up on my searches.
    thanks,
    Bill@cyclepathnw.com

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    • April January 15, 2011 at 8:05 pm

      Most of the really crazy ones are built by the people pulling them around, especially if you’re thinking of the ones used to pull mattresses and couches and whatnot.

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    • Donna January 15, 2011 at 9:19 pm

      I think you are referring to Bikes at Work trailers. http://www.bikesatwork.com/

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  • Paul Tay January 16, 2011 at 4:59 am

    Dude
    Children should never be carried on a bicycle. It is not safe. Bicycles are not designed to carry children. This coming from an experianced rider.
    http://www.videojug.com/interview/carrying-children-on-bicycles

    The logic is the same as Professor Greenlick. If children should never be carried on bicycles, they should be carried in motor vehicles, which kill over 42,000 Americans every year, year-in, year-out.

    Even with all the engineered, law-enforced ways to stop the carnage, it keeps going, like clockwork. 115 every day across America. Source: American Automobile Association.

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