How do you bike in the rain with kids?
I live in Los Angeles, a city that gets an average of 16 inches of rain per year, over 34 rainy days. To put it another way, it’s sunny nearly year-round (284 days) and most of the time perfect weather to ride a bike.
But when I tell people I only get around by bike — including taking my 3 kids to/from school — I inevitably get the question, how? And what do you do if it rains!?
First, I want to point out that kids don’t melt :) In fact, my kids, like most, love the rain. Since it rarely rains here, they are fascinated by it, and love jumping in puddles, going outside, and watching the clouds. So you can easily put a kid (or two) on a traditional bicycle with a raincoat and they’re quite happy.
An even better solution is a “bakfiets” — a dutch word meaning “box bike” — which means the cargo goes in front of you. While this might sound strange at first, it’s a far more balanced rider experience. And thanks to a low center of gravity, it makes it easy to turn corners, and safer in case the bike falls for any reason.
I first got my bakfiets after waiting 6 months (a Riese and Müeller Load 75) in September of this year — here’s my tweet showing what it looks like without the sun/rain cover. Since then, I’ve taken my kids hundreds of miles around Los Angeles, in hot weather and cold, rain or shine. Today, for the first time, we went to school in the pouring rain. Thanks to the top, they didn’t get wet. And thanks to my Cleverhood Rover Rain Cape, I didn’t get too wet.
The best part of biking kids to school in the rain is how much FUN they have under the cover in the box. My kids were laughing, playing with the side walls dripping water, and squealing every time we went through a puddle (because the box is low, on especially flooded streets, a small amount of water can seep in to the bottom of the box — they thought this was hilarious).
So yes — even with kids, you can bike in Los Angeles. And even on our rare rainy days, it still works. As my Northern European friends say, “there is no bad weather, just bad dress.”