The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has published a Family Biking Guide, and it’s pretty great.
And it takes a bit for me to commit to that.
It really addresses cycling throughout the lifecycle of becoming a family, starting with pregnancy, and including biking to school and sports. While written with some elements that are specific to SF/California law, it is generally speaking a level-headed look at biking with kids, with specific sections for each stage — 0-9 months, 9 months – 3 years, pedaling with your kids, and getting them onto their own bikes.
Having biked pregnant, I can deal with their enthusiasm, as they do temper it with cautions about routing, feeling secure, and balancing a desire to ride with your actual condition throughout the pregnancy. Most of one pregnancy was winter for me, so I didn’t ride much, as winter riding is substantially less stable when you’re certain of your center of gravity, let alone when it’s in flux. My second pregnancy, I rode into the third trimester until I hit a point SF Bike describe in the guide:
If you find yourself hitting your stomach with your knees, you have likely reached the point where you simply don’t fit on your bike anymore. You may also find that your balance is off and you don’t feel safe riding anymore.
Yeah, that. Exactly.
The guide also admits that most equipment options for riding with infants and toddlers are pricey. This is important. In so many pieces about family biking, the cost of this equipment is glossed over, or compared with that of a car as a one-for-one replacement. For most parents, complete replacement of a car with a bike is not realistic, but going multi-modal may be achievable. As such, the cost of equipment cannot simply be dismissed as covered by eliminating a car. This guide doesn’t do an in-depth comparison, but also doesn’t come out swinging in the zone many families would find unrealistic. Huge plus for them.
In all, the guide is useful for parents and advocates not in San Francisco, and is an excellent model for other organizations to emulate — a reasonable, responsible guide that follows multiple life stages, with practical advice.