Biking with Kids in the Rain

Earlier this week, I was nearing the end of the day, which is the time when I pick up my daughter from daycare on the bike and madly rush home.But it was raining. And the kid and I were completely devoid of rain gear.

I cursed myself a little bit for never remembering to check the weather. Then I decided to wimp out, go buy an umbrella (new, not even a used umbrella), and walk to daycare. Then I could walk the stroller home (as opposed to strapping it to the bike). Since the stroller comes with a rain cover, I wouldn’t be subjected to any I’m-wet-and-its-the-end-of-the-world hysteria. My daughter and I would stay dry.

But being a procrastinator, I didn’t ever leave to buy the umbrella and instead found myself needing to get to daycare as fast as possible, which means using the bike. But what to do about the water-phobic tot? I decided to go for the tried and true plastic-garbage-bag method. It works for keeping my computer dry in my backpack when it rains, so why not the kid?

I took a plastic bag, poked a hole in the top, put the bag over my daughter H, put her helmet on and put her in the bike seat like a little burrito. I didn’t even pull her arms out. I poked a couple more holes in the bag so that I could thread the straps through, and I was done. Before I put her on the bike, H had noticed a worm on the sidewalk and we talked about how worms like the rain. So as I was getting her settled in, I told her that she was a worm and that she liked the rain too. She told me her shoes were getting wet, but she never really complained about that or the fact that her arms were pinned down. She was a trooper. I got absolutely soaked, but H only got her pants a little wet.

Once I got home, I thought about how embarrassing it is to claim to be a big biker with kids and not to have rain gear for myself or the toddler. OK, I do have that big blue poncho, but it only works if I remember to bring it with me. Where can we get pint-sized raingear (and can we get it used)? Can I rig up a bike-seat cover so that H never gets wet as I’m sure I should? I felt guilty for a while, and then Nathan and I decided that we should just embrace the plastic bag method.

So my new goal is to get a handful of cheap plastic garbage bags and some rubber bands (for securing bags to shoes and whatnot) and stash them in the Xtracycle (along with my poncho). If it’s raining when we are on the way somewhere, I can throw in a change of clothes. If it’s raining on the way home, we can just strip when we get home and get into dry things. Then I’ll look for a time to try out the line that my parents used with me when I complained about the rain, “You’re not made of sugar — you won’t melt.”

About Angela

Angela is an associate professor of mathematics and enjoys writing, reading, and talking to people about her bike. She's the proud mother of two cute kids, H and R.
This entry was posted in Best of, Biking with kids, Our Xtracycle and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Biking with Kids in the Rain

  1. MamaVee says:

    caveat- I tend to approach life that there is always a purchasable solution to my problems. So there is that…

    Check this out. I don’t have one but it looks damn handy as I personally really do not enjoy getting wet. My daughter likes it even less. I’m glad your ride went well despite the lack of Gear. Go you!

    • Simon from London says:

      Has anyone tried this? I’m no physicist but it looks like it might have similar aerodynamic qualities to a sail or a parachute :)

      I bet it has a “Strictly wind-free days” sticker on it somewhere.

  2. sara says:

    Here’s a review of the Velotop from a family biker:
    This is where the weather tent really comes in handy on the bakfiets. Since we started bike commuting, we’ve only been put off by the rain one day. The boys have stayed cozy in the covered box while I’ve gotten a bit soggy, but I love the idea of storing a poncho and some plastic bags in the bike just in case.

  3. Angela V-C says:

    That veltop does look awfully neat — I wonder how well we could get it to work with our fairly non-standard setup. But the pricetag really hurts. I’m kind of allergic to spending money and Nathan had to work hard on me to get me to invest in the xtracycle.

    And I’m jealous of that bakfiet tent!

  4. swadfather says:

    You should check out to see what they have. That is a good place for outdoor kid clothing. Another good option that we, the also allergic to spending money, use is the

  5. Ron S. Doyle says:

    Just stumbled onto your blog–love it! My kids are 2 and 7 months, so I’m shopping for a two-seat trailer to replace our single trailer. Wish the Xtracycle was an option!

    Have you seen the WeeRide Kangaroo? Also good for little ones…

  6. Angela V-C says:

    Ron — We do the xtracycle with two (although since the second is in utero, it’s not yet on the bike!). We have a custom seat (details here:, that I think will work well for some time!

    swadfather — I think we may break down and buy something next winter, so I’ll have to check those out. We don’t get a ton of weather or winter gear through hand-me-down sources!

  7. Trisha says:

    I’m equally lazy when it comes to raingear (of course, it’s just me and my bike getting wet, no kiddos). Rain stuff all seems so pricey and I can never force myself to take the plunge. Look forward to seeing your solution!

  8. Cycledad says:

    thats a pretty cool instant solution!

  9. Cycledad says:

    thats a pretty cool instant solution!

  10. Sarah F says:

    Does Boston have a bike gear swap? Flagstaff is chockful of them – at least 2 for spring/summer … though not sure if kid gear is a popular item!
    What about kid consignment shops, too?

  11. Sarah F says:

    And my 1st comment was not to diss your plastic bag solution – seemed to work great! … but there has to be a cheap and used option to get some gear.

  12. Gemma says:

    Hahaha, I’m one of those people who love spending time in the rain. The last time we were caught in the rain, I luckily packed a rain jacket for my kids.

    I found a kids bike is not exactly suitable to stuff things in so I had to pack it in a backpack I usually carry around.

  13. This is what we use as a rain cover/sun cover. It was really cheap and has worked amazingly well- Jack stays warm and snug even when it’s windy.

    Also you can rig it with two kid seats on a longtail.

    We get LOTS of rain here in the spring and I needed a fix that would work for everyday riding (I don’t drive), also shades him in the blazing heat too.

Leave a Reply