Electric scooter vs bicycle in 2015, kid in tow?
July 17, 2015 11:19 PM   Subscribe

What should I consider when deciding on buying either an electric scooter or a basic bicycle with a kid seat to be used for short trips of up to 6km with an active preschooler, replacing either walking or walking and public transit? Very interested in hearing from parents who bike with their kid every day or people who use electric scooters every day. I have no car and no intention of getting a car and live in a city with great public transit. Specific questions after the break.

My kid takes a chartered bus to her preschool, and it's awful and expensive. Taking her by public transit is cheaper but the direct busstop is a 2km walk from our place and she turns it into a 30min amble. Her brother got a kick scooter recently and her siblings take her on it for rides up to 5km away happily. My work hours are flexible so I could replace the chartered bus service with a faster commute.

1. Is it insane to think of taking her by bike or electric scooter the 6km to her preschool, then catching a bus direct to my office or home? Or the 2km to the busstop with the direct bus? Too long for a daily commute?

2. Can a folding bike have a kid seat attached or do they have to be removed?

3. If you've had both, for a short trip, would you prefer putting a kid on a seat in a bike or having the kid hop on the electric scooter?

4. Which is more dangerous if you didn't plan on riding on car roads, only bike paths and park lanes?

5. She'll need a helmet for the electric scooter if we're going above a mild walking speed, right? Do I need one or is that overkill?
posted by dorothyisunderwood to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well you should wear a helmet to set a good example. If you don't have to wear one, why should she? (And in reverse, is she should wear one, why shouldn't you?)
posted by jrobin276 at 11:43 PM on July 17, 2015

I used to scoot my son to school, each of us on separate push (not electric) scooters - they make big ones for grown ups. Then we'd lock his up at school and I'd take mine on the bus to work.

He's grown out of his now, but I still ride mine to yoga...
posted by mgrrl at 12:27 AM on July 18, 2015

I have an electric bike and its great. Best of both worlds. You can even get an electric folding bike which you could take on the bus! Child seat on the back. The electric bike is fantasic for helping with the load - as she has gotten heavier, its been a godsend.
posted by zia at 12:45 AM on July 18, 2015

Best answer: I think a bicycle would be more than adequate. Just a regular bicycle! With the 6km, though, would you ride to the preschool, ride home, then ride back to the preschool and ride home when it was time to pick her up? Or would you take the bus or something onward from the preschool? Two 6km trips is probably the ideal bicycle commute; four is doable but would be difficult at first. The 2km to the bus stop you could easily do four times a day on a regular bicycle, though.

A few questions to consider: Would you put the bike on the bus, or would you leave it at the preschool/bus stop? Do the buses have front racks that you can fit a regular bike on (these are terrifying to use the first time, but then become very easy), or would you need to have a folding bike? If you leave it at the preschool is there a secure place for you to leave it? Is the 6km hilly at all or is the weather often bad?

Where I am (Northeast US), children riding in bicycle seats pretty much always have helmets on (I think it's required by law), and kids using scooters generally use them as well, even just little kick scooters. I almost always wear a helmet when on a bike myself; probably 75% of adults wear helmets around here.

Here's an article on carrying kids on folding bikes... looks like it's possible, though not perhaps easy. You can tow a trailer behind a folding bike as well. At the elementary school I pass on the way to work, there's always a trailer locked up outside - presumably the parent rides the kids to school, locks up the trailer, then continues on his/her way on the bicycle.
posted by mskyle at 4:34 AM on July 18, 2015

We have a 4 km commute to daycare that we often take on foot or bike. We don't have anything electric but I can speak to some other options.

Seat on a bike: most have weight limits of under about 15kg--you don't mention your child's age but my big kid sized out early.

We used a bike trailer until our son was 3--one of us would ride him in, leave the trailer at school, and the other parent would pick him up at the end of the day. Most of them have hardware that can be bought for extra bikes and some kind of easy on/off linkage. I imagine you could use it with a folding bike, though I don't have one. Now that he's bigger we have a WeeHoo and adore it. You may be able to lock up some or all of this at school so you can take the bus the rest of the way; we sometimes do this.

Sometimes we walk in and my son rides a balance bike. He's also got a friend with a kick scooter that amounts to the same thing. They dawdle a lot less when they have a toy to ride on. That may not work so well if the sidewalk has a lot of pedestrians. We always use a helmet, but it's the law around here. You could ride one of these to the bus stop and carry it to school.
posted by tchemgrrl at 5:59 AM on July 18, 2015

Since bicycling is an option, have you considered a trail-a-bike? The both of you get exercise and, believe or not, a pre-schooler provides a 25-50% boost to the overall effort. The kid's half easily detaches, you'd store like it as suggested doing to the scooter, and you'd finish your commute on your now single bike. Your now single bike can also fit on the bus' rack.

Check your kid's height. She might be getting too big for a bike seat. A newspaper article comparing a bike seat with a tandem.
posted by dlwr300 at 5:47 AM on July 20, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers! I am now pretty set on getting a brompton folding bike with the IT Chair because once I started looking into folding bikes with child seats, positive reviews by parents came up over and over from how light and sturdy the brompton was, and my daughter is much more keen on the additional saddle than any of the other child seats we looked at, and she would be right up with me when we bike. Now it's a question of where I'm going to buy it from and when.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 8:22 PM on July 26, 2015

Response by poster: Hi, another update - I got a brompton and love it to pieces but it worked out cheaper to get a child's bike than a child seat for the bike, and after two weeks of riding, I don't think I would risk taking a small child on a bike on the roads here, but it's just right for making public transit trips easier for both of us.

She's super happy having her bike for fun and we'll be able to take that and the folding bike in a cab to the parks further away too, and I've discovered that I freaking adore having a bike and can bike to her school to pick her up to bring her home by public transit very happily.

Also that there are way more hills around my home than I realised when I was walking everywhere!
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 3:44 AM on August 9, 2015

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