One of the things I've learnt as a parent of 3 kids under 6 is to remember to ride only as far as the kids can go...and still be able to return! What also helps is the ability to work out how to ride one handed whilst hauling a kids bike across your shoulder.
Handling the spread of skills and interest across a 2, 4 and 6y.o makes for some interesting riding challenges. Whilst my 6y.o. is capable of much better distances and adventures now, we're still a little limited by her 4y.o. brothers ability to go the distance. At least the youngest is happy to kick back in the kiddicarrier with a handful of snacks and a teddy..
it seems to me that a lot of riding policy and infrastructure is, however, still geared towards the individual cyclist, when there are a whole bunch of emerging riders in young families wanting to get out and about, exercising their autonomy and skills mastery whilst being close enough to the parental wing in case of emergency..or hunger..or exhaustion..or a nose needing a wipe. The list goes on...and on..Having a bit of extra power can transform short to medium-range family rides. Where adventures had previously dissipated into unending coaxing, cajoling to return to home base for an overtired kid, now I can pop the pooped-one into the trailer, sling their little bike over the shoulder and carry on (mostly) cheerfully to the end of the ride. It's no bakfiet or cargocycle, but at least the middle one has had a go at getting out, building skills, safe in the knowledge that they can still participate towards the end (if a little more passively as a trailer passenger.
I have noticed a local rider recently working themselves as a bicycling B-double equivalent, with a tagalong for their eldest rider and trailer attached to the tagalong. Makes for a pretty long rig, and very demanding load on single bike brakes when pulling up all that extra weight.
We took the chance to head out for a brief ride near dusk last night, finding a great section of river trail that meandered along next to the Murrumbidgee River. A good place for some fine tuning of suspension settings and technical riding, necessary to deal with small roots, large rocks and keeping the ride comfortable. It was great to see the river flowing with a recent rain surge, along sections that normally run a little drier.
Along the way, we couldn't help but ponder on the opportunity created for small scale manufacturing for clean transport solutions and the positive incentives created by the introduction of the Carbon tax here in Australia. The strident opposition to this initiative by some sections of the body politic in Australia just leaves us a little bemused, as a hectically busy small business with full time day-job and parenting commitments. We see great potential in tipping the scale to factor in the price of previously uncosted externalities like CO2 emissions. There is a manufacturing capacity and capability for innovation waiting to respond to it, but re-orienting a car-focused manufacturing base that is used to operating at monolithic scale and sucking on the teat of the state will take time. In the face of accelerating CO2 emissions, disruptive innovation is more necessary than ever. Bring on the [r]evolution of our transport fabric..it can't come soon enough.
We're looking forward to reading in closer detail the Weathering the Change Action Plan proposed for the ACT and doing what we can to help co-create a vision of possibility. There's such inertia to overcome when trying to wean people off car usage (myself included) but the benefits are soooo worth it. If you've come this far, we recommend also taking a look at the Rocky Mountain Institutes discussion on their Five Step program for ending our oil addiction.