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Taking A Lane With Two Bikes (Or A Sidecar)

Yesterday was quite fun – I picked up my bike and my wife’s bike from the bikeshop yesterday after getting them both tuned up, mine cleaned (I had forgotten what it looked like clean, under all the dirt and salt from winter riding) and Tracy’s with new hybrid tires.

I decided that since I had never biked on two bikes before, I would try it.

I steered and braked Tracy’s bike with the muscles of my right arm all the way home (it was a lot easier than I thought it would be), nicely taking the lane the whole way.

A couple cars passed two closely, but there was a huge difference from when it’s just me.

This all expanded on my idea of a cool sidecar for a bike instead of a trailer.

I’ve seen it done (most recently on Wheel Revolution) before, and you may have an idea of what I’m taking about if you watch the Amazing Race, as they were in Malaysia a couple weeks ago, picking up recyclables with cool bicycle sidecars (photo).

What I’m thinking of though is building something (when I have more room to build things) where the bike is on the left side and the sidecar is on the right…. I’m thinking this is the best arrangement because I foresee carrying kids in such a thing, and I’d want to be between them and any crazy traffic.

Anyone know if you can buy bicycle sidecars in Toronto? It would be so much more useful than just for carrying kids… you could fit a lot of groceries in there! Also… and this is important… it would be a great traffic-calmer. :)

  • tobbycat

    I think i’d be a little worried about a side car in Toronto. I agree it is a GREAT idea but I am not sure drivers in the city have quite warmed up to us – let alone extending our vehicles to take up an entire lane.

    I do, however, think side cars are a lovely idea!

    I am sure you could find a welder to build you a simple contraption!

  • Joe (BikingToronto)

    Drivers may not be ready for bicycles and sidecars taking up a lane of traffic, but that’s not our problem. :)

    If we’re all afraid to change the conditions on our roads then nothing will change.

  • Anonymous

    I have a sidecar and rode with my son in it for a year or so. Chariot from Calgary makes it and it’s expensive, but a nice way to transport a child (it only fits one).

    A few beefs about it: while it slows traffic, biking in rush hour where there are no bike lanes means that you get stuck behind cars that stray close to the curb and that’s very bad when there is a streetcar bunching traffic.

    Drivers generally give some more room when they see you have a child in a sidecar and lots of people and drivers gawk at it because it’s ‘so novel’ but, I worry that it’s a little bit low for some drivers to see, especially those who are going very fast.

    It doesn’t really in my experience slow traffic much. It’s wonderful in a bike lane, but considering Toronto’s well-thought-out and contiguous bike lane plan, you might find yourself dodging car doors, pedestians and turning drivers.

    A couple of good points about the idea and the one I have: it’s low to the ground, has a really neat pivot system, meaning that if you drop your bike, the sidecar stays up, can take a pretty sizeable load of groceries and, mine at least, is covered in nylon fabric, meaning that even in the worst thunder storms, and I’ve been trapped in a few, you may be drenched, but the sidecar occupant is pretty much dry the whole time.

    I bought it at Cycle Therapy, if you are interested.

  • Joe (BikingToronto)

    Cool! Thanks for this info! While kids are a few years off, I think I’ll go down to Cycle Therapy and check out their stuff. :)

  • JEINKEL-HEIMER sidecar bicycles

    Having ridden my two girls in my sidecar for many years, I think it’s a great idea. My blog jeinkel-heimer.com is a good resource for construction of a cargo/freight style bicycle sidecar. Living in the Napa Valley with minimal hills and extream low gears gives me an advantage over people who have to deal with weather, steep terain etc. That bieng what it is check what were up to to see if it applies to you. FRITZ

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