Family Biking: Kristen & Todd
We are constantly amazed by the biking families in Chicago – your commitment to biking with your kids, the adventures you embark on, the daily school drop off by bike – and want to share these stories, so other families just starting on their biking journeys can know they're not alone!
Tell us about you & your family! Names, ages of kid(s), whatever you're comfortable with sharing.
Kristen and Todd, kiddos are Søren (7) and Isaac (4) - and some backyard chickens, but they haven’t biked yet
What neighborhood do you live in?
What's your current bike set up? What do you love about it? What would you change?
We’ve got a couple different set-ups. We have an Xtracycle that we use to take kiddos to school or on family-style adventures. Todd and I both have single bikes we commute on, and his has a Yepp adapter in the back and Burley trailabike for taking our growing second grader solo, or we need to split up when transporting kids. Up until very recently my bike had a side car attachment for when I was transporting a solo kid, but we realized I wasn’t doing that often. But sidecars are amazing! The kids both have bikes but use them more for recreation than transportation at this point. We can’t wait until they are comfortable with that though so we can get back on our tandem!
What drew or inspired you to bike with your kid(s)?
We’ve always been bikers, so it was just a natural extension.
How did you get started biking as a family?
The first kiddo setup we had was with a sidecar, when our firstborn was maybe 7 months old.
Share a favorite, family-friendly, quiet neighborhood route/shortcut in the city.
We are maximum efficiency bikers, so typical take the fastest route, even if it is noisy.
Where does an average day of riding take you? School, grown up commute to work, grocery store, weekend errands, trips to the park, etc.
Todd drops the kids off via bike at school and daycare on nice days, then we ride independently to work. (Truth be told, Todd bikes EVERY day, and I have turned into a real fair weather biker.) I’ll pick the kids up via bike. Weekend trips are usually bike adventures, not as much errands. We try to do errands sans kids as much as possible :)
People often say that biking with your kids is "dangerous" or "crazy" or "so brave". How do you respond to that?
That it is actually just practical - and fun!
How has biking with your kid(s) impacted your family's life?
I think they are less afraid of weather than other kids (or maybe even I was as a kid!) And I think we all strive to be healthier because of it.
Do your kid(s) ride independently? What's the best part & hardest part of having independent riders?
Yes, recreationally. We aren’t quite there yet in terms of transportation.
Tell us one of your favorite or most memorable biking-with-kids moments or adventures.
With two kids on the back of a bike together, they are really forced to get along. We’ve seen our older son really step up to take care of the little one (open snack packages, adjust hats and sunglasses, etc) since we aren’t taking our hands off of the bars. Who knew kids could rise to the occasion?!
What are your top three tips for families considering riding together or just starting out?
Don’t think you have to solve every scenario with one bike. Look for options that work with the different needs you have as a family (ie. we don’t individually commute with the Xtracycle - it’s slow and hard to lock up safely, etc). Dress in layers! Wear sunscreen! Make sure your kids have good fitting helmets and are comfortable in their seats. Nothing ruins a ride for everyone like a kid complaining that something is rubbing somewhere.