Notes from Catherine Rowett, former Green Party MEP for East of England and deputy coordinator of the Eastern Region Green Party*(UK). Biographical reflections on life as an MEP. Longer reflections and discussions on issues relating to policy, the good life, justice, equality, anti-austerity economics and the future of the planet. This is also a forum for exchanging ideas on how to tread lightly on the planet and avoid supporting exploitation and corrupt practices. Here we go...

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Things useful for bringing up children without a car

Last time we got as far as carrying a small baby in a sling or in a trailer. Next we need a baby seat for the bicycle.

The first is a rear fitting seat, suitable for a child from about 6 months. It has a harness and a high back to support the child, so once the baby can sit up by itself it will be fairly comfortable in here.
My children used to fall asleep in the seat on the back of the bike sometimes. That's a bit awkward, because they tend to loll out sideways. I used to cycle with one hand behind me trying to hold baby in place. Not ideal, but no one ever came to any harm....

Then you can also add a front fitting seat. These have become more elaborate than they used to be and sometimes include a windscreen. When I had one twenty years ago it was a tiny black saddle with two metal supports, which slotted into a bracket fitted on the cross bar, or the upper of the two angled bars on a women's frame. Then there was a little bracket the provided a foot rest for the child, fitted on the lower bar.

I don't at all like the look of the plastic monstrosity in this picture.

Here is something more like the one I knew (though now they seem to come with a strap to strap the child to the seat: now that was never necessary in days gone by and surely still isn't).

I see there is a weight limit given for these seats. Well I went on carrying our children on them for many years. I had one on the back and one on the front. I went on carrying both children like this until one fateful day when I stopped at a junction to turn right out of Charles Street onto the Iffley Road, and the whole bicycle started to tip over because it was so top heavy. As soon as the structure had started to tilt it was too heavy for me to hold it up, so all I could do was lower it gently to the ground and take the children off. So then we had to walk home and that was the end of cycling with two children one on the front and one on the back.
I don't remember exactly how old they were. Perhaps 5 and 3. Quite a lot beyond the weight limit they recommend now, for sure.

One might also want helmets for the children. Ours were pink expanded polystyrene, and looked like a blob of ice cream. Now that doesn't sound very green does it?

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