Summer Goal: Stay Out of the Car

Driving in the summer is unpleasant, especially, I imagine, for toddlers: They’re in the backseat, away from the air conditioning, and their car seats are hot. And  in addition to the usual rigmarole of  fastening and unfastening two separate five-point harnesses for my two toddlers, I have to put up and take down the windshield sun screen and cover the car seats with blankets (which doesn’t keep them from being hot, but at least prevents burns). Then maybe I get stuck in traffic, so the AC doesn’t cool as well, and the sun is baking one of the children–who have long since disabled those window-covering doodads one buys for babies–or me.

Then there’s the cost of the gas, the environmental impact, and the fact that our fifteen-year-old Accord will probably limp along longer if we don’t use it for a bunch of stupid little trips around town.

Fortunately, we have another means of locomotion. Mr. FP went on an awesome second-hand buying spree a couple of weeks back,

Double bicycle trailer.

The kids seem quite cozy, but comfortable enough.

picking up toddler sandals, bike helmets, a lampshade, and, most pertinently for our present discussion, a well-used but structurally sound double bike trailer. It’s an older model of the highly recommended Burley brand.

While I am not nearly as badass as Mr. Money Mustache, who uses his bike trailer to buy groceries in the snow, I can at least use it to tote my tots to, for instance, library story time. It was so much more pleasant than driving. The kids got to exclaim at every dog, water feature, and basketball hoop we passed (Little Brother is currently, inexplicably obsessed with basketball hoops), and I burned some calories. . We stopped at a playground on the way home, and I think next week I will pack us a picnic lunch. The only snafu was that I forgot to bring a bike lock. I almost skipped the story time because of that, but I thought I would at least see what the ride to our new library was like. When I got there, I noticed several other unlocked bikes, and I thought you’d have to be a pretty stupid bike thief to choose a midget bike with a giant trailer attached when there were several unencumbered normal-sized bikes to abscond with.

Rear view of bike trailer showing cargo space.

There’s a surprisingly generous amount of “trunk” space.

We had a further adventure in the afternoon. Tropical Smoothie Cafe, one of our favorite places in the universe, was having a special event to support Camp Sunshine; everyone who came in wearing flipflops would get a free smoothie. (I am unclear on how giving away free smoothies benefits charity, but was happy to play along.) We stashed flipflops in the “trunk” and set off by bike. Unfortunately, Mr. FP wasn’t as sure of the route as he thought, and it wound up taking like an hour and a half. Do you have any idea how delicious a free strawberry banana smoothie tastes after that long on a bike? Extremely awesome.

In easy biking distance of our house, we have a wide selection of grocery stores (Walmart, King Sooper’s, Sprouts), a very nice branch library, several playgrounds, and a variety of other restaurants and shops. Downtown is also, in theory, reachable by bike, but it’s like eight or nine miles and I have not tried it yet. With so much in reach on two wheels, here’s hoping we can spend the summer in the open air, not in the car!

Mother and two toddlers drinking smoothies.

The kids, of course, didn’t “earn” their smoothies like Mr. FP and I did. That’s why they look so fresh.

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About frugalparagon

I'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.

4 responses to “Summer Goal: Stay Out of the Car”

  1. David says :

    Air conditioning in the car? What’s that?

    Enjoy the trailer as long as you can. My goblins have mostly outgrown it despite my attempts to keep pulling massive weight, so now we’re back down to sub 5-mile roundtrip range for trips without petrol. Gonna try to get them up to “grandma’s house” by the end of summer (9 mile, somewhat uphill on the way back with a couple steep climbs they will have to walk). We did it a few times last year, but I’m hoping to avoid the threats of death and dismemberment this time around 😛

    • frugalparagon says :

      Hopefully they will be riding alongside before you know it! I’ve heard that you can also pull your two younger kids in a trailer while the oldest child assists on a trail-a-bike–seems like that would be awfully long!

      I haven’t made it more than a few miles yet. We did bring the boys downtown, but my husband pulled the trailer most of the way. Which is awesome, because it’s the first time I’ve ever been able to keep up with him :-).

      • David says :

        For a while I was doing rides with my mom. She can maintain about 12mph. Fully goblin-laden, that was about my top speed too, so it worked out well while it lasted.

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  1. Me, My Bike, the Kids, and the Groceries | The Frugal Paragon - June 27, 2014

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