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Cycle commute with kid/s - feasible or not

  • 01-12-2021 10:00pm
    Registered Users Posts: 379 ✭✭

    We live about 18km from work/school and am weighing up the pros/cons of getting electric bike or bikes on the BTW. I'd like to hear of anyone experiences in going down this route. For the next 6 months it's me and my daughter - upper end of primary school. From Sept next year I'll have my 5 year old son coming with us too. Would be looking to cycle 2/3 days a week. We currently drive and it takes about 25-30mins mainly due to heavy school/college traffic once we reach the town. Crawling along for the last 4km could take 15 mins and I hate it for multiple reasons.

    The first 3km if our commute is on narrow local road then we have a choice. First- a wide bike lane on an old national route right into the town where we work. Very busy road, 100kmph cars and trucks etc but wide bike lane and good surfacing in all fairness.

    Second option is to go along the river Barrow track which brings us pretty much right to work/school with zero traffic. Rougher going in places and heavier on the legs but risk of anything happening is way lower. Two sets of kissing gates to be negotiated if we go this way which makes carrying the small fella more of an issue next year.

    My daughter is a very fit, competent cyclist for her age and she has cycled this route (and way further) a good few times but not under the kind of time pressure you might be when commuting. I was thinking of getting her an electric bike (XS or S) depending on make and model) to take the edge off the cycle so we wouldn't be under pressure and she could too along at a decent pace for 45 mins. I could cycle on my regular gravel bike - I reckon 20-25kmph for us would be a reasonable average pace given the surfacing. Half thinking of going electric too to reduce the chances of arriving to work in a bog of sweat. Would also make carrying the small fella easier in September if he was on a bike seat for a year or two.

    Any opinions on the feasibility of this plan?Anyone done anything similar and found it manageable or tried it with disastrous outcomes? We do have a car/s and I wouldn't be tied to cycling in really manky weather but would like to make it worth the outlay if we are going to go electric.


  • Registered Users Posts: 190 ✭✭Jonesy101

    I would go for the River route option. Safer, but also nicer less pollution and a nice way to start the day for the kids. If you got one of those big ebikes with the front carrier that the kids sit in then you could have a plastic cover to save you from the rain and wind. They cost a fortune though. Putting the 3 of you in full rain gear could be a real bother at home, and then when you get to school and then need a way of bringing it all home again unless you can leave it in school and not get lost. Having said that in Dublin anyway I would probably have to wear my full rain gear less than 10 times a winter so no that bad. There are the Switch bike things that you put the ebike thing onto a wheel so you can put on your daughters bike now and then when grows out of that bike change it to the next bike.

    Radrider also have benchseat type adult bikes that seem very good, protection from the side and look v safe. and theyre good value, AND theyre short so easier to navigate those gates and store in the house/garage.

    interesting to see what others thing or what you end up doing

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,491 ✭✭✭hesker

    Before you go buying ebikes would it be worth doing a trial on the regular bikes on a Sat morning

  • Registered Users Posts: 753 ✭✭✭Roadtoad

    This sounds like a recipe to kill a kid's interest in cycling.

    Keep it fun, short and buy lots of icecreams.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,811 ✭✭✭Tigerandahalf

    18km is a hell of a distance for a kid to do. Will you have to do the same on return? School bags? If it rains on the way you have wet kids going into school.

    I am a short (walking) distance from school and tried the young kids on scooters and it is hard work keeping them safe.

    Unless you are on a segregated route it is risky.

    I think with the weather in this country especially in the west an escooter is probably the best bet as you could wear a full length poncho on the wet days and could have the school bag on your back.

    Only thing I have found with an ordinary scooter is that with the small wheel, if you hit a twig or a stone it can really hurt your back. Some types have pneumatic wheels so they may be a better option.

    I think if you are going down this option you need to be prepared to travel in all weathers as otherwise the habit will be broken.

    It would be great to see more kids walking and cycling to school.

  • Registered Users Posts: 78 ✭✭Don Juan II

    If traffic is bad for the last 4km of your trip, why not get a good bike rack instead of e-bikes and drive 14km and find somewhere safe to leave your car. Pop the 3 bikes off the bike rack and cycle the last 4km on regular bikes.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 379 ✭✭mobfromcork

    Thanks for the feedback.

    Jonesy101, it was the Radrunner Plus (with gears) I was looking at getting for my daughter. They have been out of stock for a few months although the basic Radrunner is available. I also looked at a Liv eBike which is pricier but would also suit. I prefer the idea of the river route although it would rule out any trailer as the terrain is too rough in places and there are two kissing gates that you couldn't bring a bike and trailer through.

    If the weather is really had we can take a car so not tied to using the bikes every day either.

    Hesker, we've done this route a few times and she's cycled far longer distances than 18km both on mountain trials and on Greenways etc. Might be worth giving a go some morning Saturday morning again though.

    Roadtoad, that's what I'm afraid of in a way and why I was going to opt for the eBike for her/us to take the monotonous edge off the journey.

    Don Juan, we do that some mornings alright - park up and finish the journey by bike. I have a tow hitch mounted bike rack but it's on our big old petrol estate. It's a great car for long family journeys and for hauling things and trailers but we try and not use it as a commuter car if we can. Partly the reason for cycling would be an ecological/environmental one. We have a smaller car that we use for commuting but you can't add a hitch to it.

    Tigerandahalf, I agree about it being safer on the segregated route.

    Maybe I'm just watching too many inspiring videos on twitter of people commuting by bike in Holland, Denmark etc. The drive and bike solution might be best for now - might see if we can rent some ebikes and see what kind of effort and time an 18km cycle would take.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,116 ✭✭✭Peterx

    I logged on to post a version of this. 18km is a long way for any commute, never mind a school run.

    The drive cycle combo looks to be a winner here, it also avoids the need for expensive new bikes. You can obviously mix it up on dry days and take the Barrow route for a few km.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,636 ✭✭✭billyhead

    Fair play OP in considering it. If there were more parents like you pushing their kids towards cycling and walking to school it would reduce obesity and reduce our carbon emissions. I think an 18km commute for children not so much adults each way is a bit much in the winter. It's a lot easier when Spring comes around so as other posters suggested perhaps park and ride instead.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,726 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    My cycling commute was 14k each way. I wouldn't to it with the kids. Not every day. I didn't even do it myself every day.

    It would seem a lot of effort to save very little time If its a holistic thing then maybe it's not about the numbers.

    You don't really know know what works until you try a few options on quiet days. Then you see what works and what doesn't.

    I find our bike rack also on hitch very time consuming to load and unload. Also your daughter might fit a xs ladies bike rather than a kids bike. It would give you more options.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,726 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    You might find two folding bikes works better if driving halfway.

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