Dads on Bikes Series: Andy Peterson

In his words: 31 years old, married 9 years to Megan, currently two kids Esther (4) and Fenton(2) with another boy on the way (due end of January).

I am a traveled musician and have played drums since I was 5. Grew up in Downers Grove IL with my parents (Scott and Diane), still there, and 2 older sisters Casey and Jill.

I am a trained Manufacturing Engineer and LEAN expert professionally but have a passion for being outside, running my chain saw, hunting, music, triathlons and Spartan Races, cycling, canoeing, traveling, movies, woodworking, landscaping and home construction.

Really there isn’t much I don’t like to do…. It’s a problem. I’m like a shark; stop swimming and I die.

(If you have a younger child now or in the past) How do you transport your child? Seat or Trailer?
We have use trailer, seat, backpack, just about everything. I like the trailer option as do the kids because they can move around a little more and bring toys and snacks with them. 

If you have an older child, how do you bike with them?
Our 4 year old is starting to ride without training wheels and likes to ride with me. She is always asking to go out riding me, and soon enough she will be right beside me, she loves to ride.

What added precautions do you take when transporting a child? (How do you keep your child safe and what do you avoid?)
Since I started seriously riding about 8 years ago I wear a helmet every time I get on the bike, and the kids have picked up that since dad always wears one, it is the thing to do. They each got to pick out their own and like to wear them around like a hat even if they aren’t riding, so they are used to them by now. As they start riding on their own they will also be made to wear good shoes. I cringe when I see kids and adults alike wearing sandals or flip flops while riding. I guess it comes from my motor cycle riding lessons that a good pair of shoes or boots can save you a lot of pain.

What is one thing you would like to see different about bike safety/transport in general that would make you feel safer transporting your child via bicycle?
I would like to see mandatory helmet laws and better education to drivers about bicycle safety and rights.

Have you ever had any close calls while biking with your child? If so, what happened and what was the outcome? Were you fearful to ride with your child again? How did you overcome?
I am very careful when riding with my kids, much more than when I ride by myself, and have not had any close calls thus far. I consider it my responsibility to keep them safe and if that means waiting, stopping, directing, ect, I take that on myself to make sure we are going to be safe. Again, motorcycle training teaches you techniques to make sure people see you and that taking risks can only end with you hurt regardless if it is your fault or the other persons fault. Car vs bicycle only ends one way…badly.

What are tips/suggestions you have for starting a bike riding routine with your child?
Both my kids are always pushing the limits on what they can and want to do, so I rarely have to suggest they try the next harder thing like taking off training wheels. I do my best to include my kids in things I love to do, and for the most part they go right along with it. Setting time apart from the weekly grind to do some riding can be tough but we do our best to accomplish it. After all practice is the only way to get better at something, so spend the time and practice.

For people wanting to incorporate children into bike riding, what products/accessories would you recommend for a parent and their child?
We love our bike trailer, and I think it did a good job of getting our kid involved with us from a very young age. I would also say that kids bikes have a short span of when they are used, like kids shoes, because they grow so fast. So buy a used one for cheap and then let your kid decorate how they want… flags, paint, bar tassels, etc. It makes it fun for the kid to want to ride.

What are tips/suggestions that you have for teaching your child to learn to ride on their own?
One never wants to see their kid get hurt, including me, but I say falling is a way of life. The more you can let the kid practice without your help the better. I think the more you hold on to them the more they start to depend on you to catch them. Pad them up and shove them off. I think that is a dad thing though… and now I sound heartless.

What do you enjoy most about including your child/children in terms of bike riding?
It is nice to spend time with them doing something we both enjoy and CAN do together. If they are in the trailer, they go where I go AND have a good time. I get to bike and spend time with them is more than a win win.