Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The transportation conundrum

Did you know that ...?

- 25% of car trips are made within a mile from home, 40% within 2 miles.
- cars produce the most emissions on those short trips, because engine start-up is 'dirtier' than normal operation.
- 50% of people commute 5 miles or less. (I used to commute 11 miles and would bike that on occasion.)

In other words, replacing the short car trips with bike rides is effective and time-efficient, too. I can bike 1 mile in about 6 minutes with 2 kids worth of cargo. The library is about 3 miles from our house, the recreation center 3.5 miles. Church maybe 4. Those are feasible distances!

Now the nitty gritty: I have three daughters. Last year they were 1, 3 and 6 and any pair of two of them could fit in the bike trailer (an older model Burley that we picked up at 'the dump' - aka local transfer station's swap shop). Either of the two younger ones could fit on the backseat, that we also found at the dump. They didn't love the trailer because of some uncomfortably positioned aluminum bars, so I sewed some padded fitted cushions. They know how important biking is to us parents and complied. Riding my hybrid with the cargo of three worked great for the local errands. Fast forward another year. Every kid is 5 in taller and 10lbs heavier. The trailer no longer fits 2 kids and even the middle daughter complains about being cramped solo. Something had to give. Even riding to preschool with 2 was impossible since the tagalong (from the dump....) is incompatible with the backseat.

So when I dragged the kids to Costco for unrelated errands last weekend, the last thing I expected was a solution to my transportation troubles, yet there it was. A cheap-ish trailer that seemed configured differently and provided a little more headspace and legspace, while being a bit narrower which IMO improves road safety.

So far I've put 24 miles on it since Sunday (all with 2 kids, not 3) and it's working out OK. The middle daughter with the loooong legs still doesn't love sharing the trailer but at least it can be done if it must. I also love that the bike I bought at the end of my high school years still serves me so well, and even my husband can ride it if he ups the saddle a bit...
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  1. Unfortunately, the whole bike thing won't work for us. To get from our house to town is 1 1/2 miles down a steep, not well maintained dirt road, another 1/2 mile to a single lane paved road, another 1 1/2 miles to the main road and 5+ miles to town! :) The kids do ride their bikes up here on our little top of the world homestead though.

    1. I kinda get the feeling you're not your statistically average family :-) And that's totally awesome. I can just about picture it!