The first thing I acknowledged when I started to look for biking with kids in Brussels, was the fact that I am not a sporty person and Brussels is a rollercoaster city. Despite being the capital of the “Plat Pays”(the flat country), Brussels is actually a sum of rises and slopes and our neighborhood is one of the hilliest of the entire city.
Furthermore the bike lanes are one of a kind. The large majority are not separated from the cars lane and they are highlighted by a white bike mark on the ground. Sometimes they are on the same lane as the bus or the tram (and honestly I hate this more than the cars because here the trams have always the priority and they NEVER stop).
Nevertheless, I was strongly committed to start using the bike on the longer distances (I usually go by bus or tram) to get used to it in order to (convince Mattia to) sell the car in the next future.
With this background, I started to look for a cheap and safe way of cycling with a 4 and a 1 year old, knowing that in one year from now, they will change school and we will need to bring and pick up them in a more distant one.
My husband was definitely more inclined to just attach two babyseats to our bikes, one each, but in this case I wouldn’t have never been able to go out with both of them at the same time. Also attaching both seats to one bike was not an option for me, as I’m quite short and I am afraid of the scarce balancing of a super heavy bike and of not being able to clearly see the road with a baby seat on the front.
Then the three remaining options for us were: cargo bike or longtail, the bike trailer and the so called “follow me” for my daugher+a back babyseat for my son.
The Babboe cargo bike was in my dreams since I left Italy so I immediately went for this option. Unfortunately, the cost of having such a bike was too high for us (not less than 800 euros for the non electric one) and the same applied for the longtail (the new trend here in Brussels) that is basically only electric and it costs more than 4000 euros, depending on the brand. In addition to that, we do not have any closed or indoor space to park the bikes, so they stand in the courtyard in front of our house. This obviously increase the risk for such “trendy bikes” to be stolen (someone already stole my daughter’s bike a couple of months ago!).
The follow me was the second best option for my husband but our daughter is not already at ease on her bike. She is still using the small wheels on and also thinking about the winter season, this was not a good deal for us. At least for the moment.
So, we went for a bike trailer, also because you can easily find a second hand one for a hundred euros, in good condition.
On the market there are tons of different trailer for every use. The most popular (and then expensive) brands are Croozer and Thule. I studied a lot their best choices and then I tried to find similar features in less known brands. It took me a couple of months and then I came across the AX bike trailer (the green one in the photo above).
It’s a two place trailer, with cushioned seats and 5 points belts. There enough space for the legs and a back room for the groceries bags/school backpacks/extra stuff. The real plus is that it becomes a stroller very easily so you don’t have to worry to park it with your bike because you can simply detach it from the bike wheel and continue walking by attaching the small, 360 grades turning wheel.
I bought it for a special price on Amazon for 190 euro (it is usually sold for 250-280) with the rain cover included and so far I used it 6-8 times already (in one month). The detaching mechanism of the wheels is very intuitive and I use to remove the wheels when the trailer is not in use, so I can leave it attached to the bike parked in the courtyard (always locked with a locker as well).
I will do a short video of me cycling with it on Brussels soon!