Imagine a world where we could cycle with our kids every day happily and confidently. We realise that while Holland and many other European countries are already living in this cycling utopia, we in the UK still have some way to go. This shouldn't put us off though - whether we're cycling to school, the farm or going to the supermarket, it is possible to cycle with our kids in the UK and enjoy it, it just takes a little more planning.
If you are thinking of taking to the saddle with your little ones then we've put together a check list of essentials to get you going. Yep - we have pretty much exclusively looked to the Dutch for inspiration, but then they are the Kings and Queens of cycling with kids.
1. The right bike.
However many children you are planning on carrying you need a bike that is stable, can balance weight evenly and has plenty of room. The Gazelle Bloom fits the bill.
The Gazelle Bloom is a roomy bike so it's perfect for carrying a front mounting child seat. Even the longest of limbed riders won't find their knees knocking the seat. The oversized frame also means extra stability so it can carry both a front and a rear seat with ease.
The Gazelle Bloom has a low step through cross bar so there are no wobbly moments when swinging your leg over (tricky when you've got an extra passenger on the back!) We love that the Bloom comes in a whole range of sizes so that it's suitable for both mums and dads.
If you'd prefer to have everyone riding upfront then the Gazelle Cabby is the way to go. The Cabby can carry up to three children with room to spare. It's light, extremely stable and a comfy ride for everyone on board. We also like that it comes with the option of a rain tent so it can be cosy in there all year round.
2. The right child seat.
We are excited to see the new range of child bike seats from Bobike which seem to cover every age of child and type of cycling. Again Bobike are a Dutch company who have an intuitive sense of what we need from a bike seat. You can add a windscreen - which is worth every penny if you live like us on the windy south coast. There's also the option of an extra mounting bracket so you can quickly transfer the seat from one bike to another.
This is the BoBike Exclusive Mini which in it's short life has already won an IF Design Award and has been awarded Best Tested and Best Buy from the Dutch Consumer Organsiation.
We are really impressed with the new Bobike Exclusive mini. Bobike have poured all their knowledge of child safety, style and comfort into this seat, and then some. We love the unique contoured belts that are adjustable with one hand and will keep your baby upright, even when it falls asleep. Plus, the Click & Go mounting system not only allows for speedy installation, you are also able to quickly and easily switch the seat between bicycles.
Bobike have been thinking about big kids too and have created the Classic Junior which is aimed at kids from 5 - 10.
The Bobike Classic Junior seat is ideal for when kids are past having to be strapped into a large rear bike seat but you still want them on board with you. It can take up to 35 kilograms and even doubles up as a pannier rack when folded down.
The Actor Mark Gruffalo using the Bobike Classic Junior.
3. The right helmet.
Assuming you already have a helmet, we'll focus on the little ones. Sticking with Bobike they have just launched a range of safe, simple and stylish kids helmets called the Bobike One helmet. We love the soft colour choices with minimal graphics.
4. The right route.
When cycling with kids finding the right route is essential to creating a smooth, peaceful ride that avoids main roads. Apps like maps.me allow you to do this easily by plotting your route and then tailoring it to cyclists and to avoid main roads. It's suprising how easy it is to get across town along canal paths, through parks and along quieter back streets.
We the Bell's team cycle with kids regularly so we know the joys and the potential pit falls. If you are thinking of doing the same then we are always happy to talk through our experiences and discuss your possible concerns. Just get in touch!