Do you have any summer bike adventures planned with the little ones? Ready to put them in the trailer and go for a nice long ride?
There’s just one problem: those tots have lots of energy! None of which gets used during a trailer ride. Likely as not, they take a sweet nap in the trailer, leaving them with energy to burn when you’re ready for a rest. And as they get older, they’ll want to ride on their own, engaging actively alongside the rest of the family. Trail-a-bikes are a common option for this phase, but they might not work for everyone. Some folks have two tots to tote, which won’t fit a typical trail-a-bike or tandem. Also, what happens if a little one begins to nod off on the trail-a-bike? (Has that happened to anyone? I can imagine my tired kiddo just falling over.)
We recently discovered a happy, easy, and fun solution to this phase: scooters.
Our little ones are proficient scooter riders. They use lightweight three-wheeled scooters, which are easier for them to navigate than the “big kid” and slightly tippy two-wheeled options. They typically ride back-and-forth on the one block of sidewalk in front of our house. I rarely let them ride the scooters to the park because they are just too darn fast…it’s impossible to keep up with them walking, and I don’t like trying to coach them from a bike as they speed those little wheels past driveways, which pose a real danger to a two-foot-tall speedster. Thus, the scooter riding has largely been relegated to the sidewalk in front of our house, which gets plenty of daily use.
But I didn’t really appreciate how fast, far, and long my little guys could scoot, until we tested them on a family bike ride with their grandparents.
We planned a morning of family biking on a car-free path. Grandpa offered to stay behind and walk with the scooter boys. My mom had seen them in action and laughed. “You better get a bike to ride, or you’ll never keep up,” she advised. It was true! My three and four year old boys happily scooter at a leisurely bike pace. They are flying, while grown-ups do a comfortable pedal. My boys scooted approximately four miles with us (with snacks and play breaks). Grandpa pulled an empty two-kid bike trailer, which also fit snacks and water bottles.
When the little guys finally got worn out, we put them in the trailer for a ride, with their scooters easily tucked into the trailer’s trunk.
It was a fabulous, cheap, space-saving solution that allowed my boys to scooter to their heart’s content. They got to expend all of their energy (a benefit of incalculable value!) They got to enjoy the independence of propelling themselves on their own power. And when they got tired, it was easy to tow them and their scooters in the bike trailer.
This is now a good family biking option for us, which works great for visits to carfree paths like the Banks-Vernonia Trail. It could also be great for parents who need to tow kids through high traffic areas, but then let them get out and ride their own scooters around parks and pathways. For summer bike vacations, scooters pack down into small spaces. I’m even thinking this could be a good option for multi-modal rides, as big families like ours can’t easily take bikes on public transit, simply because there are so many of us.
The bike trailer + scooter option is a new favorite that we are excited to utilize this summer. Happy riding!
Shannon is a 36-year-old mom of five who lives in downtown Hillsboro. Her column appears weekly. Contact her via firstname.lastname@example.org