In part three Emily Bergmann answers the all important question of how she likes being a part time bike commuter. Would she do it again? Was it worth it? Read on and find out!
I am really, really happy with my Xtracycle and biking as much as possible by myself and with the kids. I think it’s smart, it’s sexy and it just makes a lot of sense.
When you’re on the bike, you are free, getting exercise, having conversations with your kids who are observing the world around them, and just having a ton of fun.
Plus you always get VIP parking!
Yes, it’s hard work, the bike is heavy, the kids are heavy, the filled to the brim cargo bags are heavy, the wind can be difficult, the weather might not cooperate on a certain day. However, it’s all worth it. It also shows our values to the world and to our kids. When I see other kids on their parents bikes or on their own bikes as their parents ride along next to them, I think ”there’s a kid that’s growing up right.”
In Part 2 of Emily Bergmann’s guest blog, she goes into more detail describing the child safety seats she installed on her new Urban cruiser!
Setting up the bike to match my needs was not too difficult because once I had a bike that was part Xtracycle. It meant that I would either need to be creative and build seats for my bike (who am I kidding, I’m no wood worker) or that I would go the Peapod II route since that is what works with the Xtracycle and the flight deck.
I of course, being highly creative, but not good with building durable, safe things that my kids can ride around in comfortably, went with the Xtracycle flight deck and Yepp seats. It was an investment of approx $500 plus shipping.
This week I want to welcome guest blogger and fellow Urban biker, Emily Bergmann!
Emily is my new poster child for going Car-lite! (And thanks for that great expression Em Im stealing it!)
In this three part blog, Emily is going to show us how she went from pushing a monster stroller her kids hated all over DC to cruising the parks on her new Urban bike!
So welcome and take it away Emily!
In August 2009 my daughter was born and then in January 2011 my son was born. My kids are 16 months a part.
Anyone who has survived with two kids under two for 8 months of their lives can tell you that patience does wear out. As much as infants and toddlers are wonderful and beautiful, they are also a handful and a lot of work. They are also incredible inefficient. They would rather take 45 minutes to walk three blocks and touch every fire hydrant, rock and flower than just get to the park and play. I had already spent one dreadfully hot summer pushing a double stroller with two kids under two who had adopted this inefficient mantra.
I work full time and my husband in 2011-2012 was on the road constantly for work. I was at a point where my 2.5 year old did not want to go in a stroller either. Yet, I was lugging around a giant double stroller every place, packed with all of the stuff I would need for two kids for an entire day. It was heavy and unpleasant and I felt like it trapped us. We couldn’t do all the things we wanted to do because the stroller wouldn’t fit in the building or down that aisle.
It was suffocating our life.
When my kids wanted to go to the park, which is just 3 blocks away, sometimes it would take 45 minutes to get there. Everyday.
Have you been in DC in July and August?
It’s blistering hot, boarding on unsafe.
Patience runs out, particularly in the dripping wet humidity in July and August.
I quickly realized I couldn’t be a “single mom” (because my husband was always on the road for work) to two kids again in the summer of 2012 and not have a way to get around the city efficiently. I had to come to terms with the fact that my kids want to go, go, go and not be in a stroller (ever).
The idea for the bike happened by total accident, one day while changing my sons diaper I looked out my front window and this guy rode by with this amazing bike that had two orange Yepp seats on the back of it.
It was love at first sight, But I had no idea what I was looking at!
So June of 2012 I began researching bikes that would allow me to carry two kids on it at once. I started my google searches immediately and found out that the bike I saw was an Xtracycle Radish and then more research led me to the Yuba Mundo, dutch bakfiets and the Bullet and others.
I was completely entranced and knew immediately that I had to have one and that this was going to change my life.
My previous biking experience however was pretty limited. We did have the iBert seat that we carried our daughter around on for fun and she loved it.
I had biked to Canada one year when I was 14.
I always rode my bike around our neighborhood growing up.
There was also the Pacific Coast bike trip my husband and I did in the summer of 2007. But I wasn’t a biker per se.
However, circumstances changed when I realized that there was a way to take two kids on one bike that did not involve a trailer. I like having the kids on the bike with me so I can hear and see the things as they do.
Having a child in the front iBert seat is like a ten mile an hour hug. You hear every “oooh” and “aaaahhh” and “doggie” that your baby says.
As I was furiously searching these kid carrying cargo bikes I was a bit dismayed at the prices, especially when you add electrical assist to them, the prices can go up to $4000 and beyond. Buying a bike like this is like investing in a car. You have to put all the money in upfront and then pray to God it works for you.
As you might expect, my husband was a bit skeptical of this new bike style I wanted to take on. I think he thought it was expensive and that it was a phase I was going through. He had no idea until recently how much time and energy I put into researching all of these bikes and what would work best for our family. I would fairly say it was a part time job of mine for all of June 2012.
In Washington, DC it’s hard to find a cargo bike carrier. It seems that many of distributors are on the west coast. Of course you can order one, pay a huge amount to have it shipped here, and then pay someone here to put it together for you. But I was hoping to not have to do that. Trying not to panic, I spent hours upon hours of scouring Craigslist and others to find a used cargo bike that I could convert into our family bike. Day after day of empty searches came up.
Finally in late June, there it was. An ad on Craigslist for a used Xtracycle “Grocery Getter” and I was smitten.
I looked at the ad and I knew that was my bike.
My husband was less convinced.
He was still not sure exactly what I was up to with this biking idea and the bike I found was “just” the Xtracycle attached to a regular bike, I would still have to outfit it with the cargo bags and the seats.
We went up to Chevy Chase to test drive the bike. We both took it for a spin and then naturally I wanted to just ride it home but we left that day without a bike. However, a week later, after more thought and discussion, we purchased the bike and brought it home.
I felt like I had a new baby I brought home from the hospital. I was so, so happy. Almost crying. It was a beautiful moment and from there I was able to focus on designing the rest of the bike – bike seats, cargo bags, water holder, front basket, etc.
The first day I took my daughter to school on this bike in late June 2012, she was thrilled. One of the things the Xtracycle gave us with the front iBert is a lot more room for her legs. In my previous bike, because of the handle bar set up, her little legs were really pressing against the front handle bars. It was uncomfortable for her and it was also hard to get her in and out of the bike. The first thing she said when she went on the Xtracycle in the iBert was “more room” and she smiled. I knew right then that this was going to forever change our family.
So the Xtracycle was our saving grace. It wasn’t cheap. I tracked how much I spent on it and then I tracked how much it saved me in gas, parking, metro fare and it basically took 2.5 months to “pay off”.
Today my kids prefer the bike to the car, but we still do have a car for the bitter winter days or for the really rainy days. We are a car-lite family. My plan is to be able to add some sort of electrical assist to the bike soon so we can open up the range that we use the bike for. We live on Capitol Hill and once you put 70+ pounds of kid on a bike, you realize that it is indeed a hill!
In part two, Emily is going to break down the set-up AND cost of putting together her cool Urban cruiser so be sure and stay tuned!
Also, for more details and pictures of Emily’s Urban bike adventures, be sure and visit her at her blog! and go say hi at Twitter @Xtracycledc