Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Running with a baby in Amsterdam

I'm used to seeing all sorts of strange, wheeled conveyances here.  I passed a mattress store the other day and saw a special double bike with a trailer bed attached to it for deliveries.  You know, it didn't phase me at all.  It must mean that I've been here long enough not to be surprised by these sorts of things.
photo from
Years ago during my first visit to the Netherlands, I ran past a woman on a bicycle and did a double take just to confirm that I actually saw her transporting a newborn baby in a car seat on the back of her bike.  All the safety issues popped into my head, and I wondered if it would even be legal to bike with your baby that way in America.  What about the helmet laws?
photo from
There must be twenty (or even more) different ways people transport their kids on bikes here.  If You have to get from A to B, and if it's too far to walk, you have to find a way on your bike.
Two kids?  No problem.  photo from
Two kids?  Kids and a dog and groceries?  Sure.  photo from

I have even embraced--more than embraced, I absolutely love it--bicycle transport with a baby and cycle all over the city with Johanna in a seat on the front of my bike.  All of this is to say that nobody really pays attention to the way kids or goods get transported.  

What, then, is with all the stares I get when I go out with the running stroller?  I have the B.O.B. Ironman.  We brought it back as checked luggage when I was 35 weeks pregnant.  I would have gladly ordered one here, but I couldn't find a retailer.  Running stroller choices here are almost nonexistent.  As comfortable as the Dutch are throwing their kids in a wooden box on the front of their bike, they are not fans of putting their kids in a running stroller.  However, I've seen people jogging with babies in regular strollers, a sight that makes me cringe as I envision those tiny wheels not being able to handle a turn and then tipping the stroller over.

Honestly, I thought it was all in my head that people were staring at us.  But, no, people really do look at us with an expression of confusion or bewilderment...and point.  The pointing is the weirdest, as if to say, "Hey, look at that weirdo mom running with her baby."  Maybe it's because I wear a lot of spandexy type pants?  It's cold, I wear running tights.  Running strollers are incredibly popular in the States (I have been led to believe) and maybe even in other parts of Europe.  Why not here?  I'm still trying to figure it out, but my guess is that it is a combination of limited space and cost.  If you've already invested a lot in an everyday stroller--let me tell you, lots of Amsterdammers own rather expensive, durable strollers--are you prepared to drop even more into a stroller you can only use for running?  For suburban, American families with a garage, a running stoller is no big deal.  I do wonder if running strollers are popular in the U.S. for urban runners.  Our BOB claims some prime real estate in our hallway and does not fit into our tiny car.  If I ever meet any other running moms here, I'll have to ask them how they do it and where they stash their kid during a run.  My guess is that they leave the kids at home with grandma.  I should ask my mother-in-law to retire or just get used to the pointing.

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