When was the last time you rode a trike? For most, it was probably more than 30 years ago. But I’m guessing you’ve seen one or more Mueller residents riding large tricycles around the neighborhood. With so many things close by, trike riding offers many quality-of-life opportunities:
Reasonable cost, especially if a car can be eliminated
Improved health for the riders and the environment
Reduced need for parking on a local level
Improved neighborhood spirit
Over my three plus years of riding around Mueller on my trikes (which I’ve called Ruby I and Ruby II) I’ve heard shout-outs from many folks!
One question that I hear repeatedly is “Where can I buy a trike?” I suggest you hop on the Internet first and do a search for “Adult Tricycles.” The Internet is a great source for learning what is available, and there are many varieties of trikes to choose from.
If you prefer to buy one in person, trikes are for sale at Target, Walmart, and Sears. Bicycle Sports Shop typically has a few in stock, and other bike shops may be happy to order a trike for you.
Finding the right trike for you is important. In its reviews of adult trikes, Adult Tricycles Pro advises that “there’s not a single best trike for everybody, but there’s one adult tricycle for each individual.”
The Schwinn Meridian is the top-ranked trike for beginners. My first trike, Ruby I, was a Meridian purchased on Amazon by my son as a surprise gift. He paid just under $300, the average price for the Schwinn Meridian single speed. I loved her. In Mueller I did not feel the need for gears. However, you can also get a Meridian with three gears at a slightly higher cost.
Ruby II, with three gears, was also a gift from my son after my first trike was stolen. By then Preston “Ty” Tyree, a bicycle safety educator, had entered my life. We decided to experiment and ordered a trike from Worksman in New York, the only U.S. manufacturer of trikes. This trike cost around $600, and there was a 40-day wait for it to arrive.
How much do trikes cost? Prices begin around $270 and go up from there. A used one on Craigslist can be cheaper.
However, be prepared for a used trike to need work. Ty has had to work on all the used trikes we’ve purchased.
Prices can go much higher, even into the thousands of dollars, for specially equipped trikes.
There are electric assist trikes and trikes
for those with special needs. Back supports, head supports, pulley systems, adapted pedals, and more are available. There are even hand-pedal trikes.
Check this link out for starters: “Special Needs” Bikes for Adults.
For people who are a bit unstable, a trike that is lower to the ground (20-inch wheels or smaller), with a big comfortable seat and handlebars at the correct height may work well enough.
What about assembly? If you order online, you will need to have your trike assembled. Some of you may be able to do this yourselves. Bike shops around Austin can do it for you, typically for between $60 and $100, but you will likely have to figure out how to get your new trike back to your home in Mueller.
How hard are trikes to ride? People who are up there in years or have some kind of physical issue wonder if they will be able to ride. For most people the answer is “YES!” A neighbor who had a stroke two years ago recently tried a trike. She sailed away on it and loved the experience.
Some people take right off on a trike with no issues; others have to get over the first 5 to 15 minutes of feeling a little awkward. The steering is different from that of a two-wheeler and, of course, you need to get used to being on three wheels. Ironically, those who are not bike riders often do better because they are not trying to ride tricycles like they do bicycles. Getting the right trike for your individual needs makes the process easier.
Trikes can be a great way to travel around Mueller for many of life’s ages and stages. Even two-wheel riders can love riding a trike. To my delight, Ty loves riding trikes for shopping, to go through the parks, or to get a beer, as well as just for relaxation. It’s great fun riding together. Ty tells people trikes are for going slow, and he loves that you don’t have to put your feet down when you stop!
First Rides: We are happy to help you take that first ride and have a variety of trikes available, including one that is small enough for people who are less than 5’2” tall. We want to help! Usually, we ask people to come to Wildflower Terrace, where we currently store our trikes. Or, If you see us out riding, sometimes we can stop. You can hop on and give it a try right then and there. Ty is an expert instructor, and I do pretty well, too. In Mueller you will see Ty on a host of bikes and trikes: His current source of excitement is an e-assist bike with a Copenhagen wheel. Ty’s one of the first to own one. Wave to us!
Austin B-Cycle is planning to test out bike- and trike-sharing in Mueller, starting with trikes. They are currently waiting until they have the trikes and the people power to accomplish this. In addition, we are working on starting trike-sharing at Wildflower Terrace.
Parking: If we want fewer people using their cars for local transportation and more riding on all sorts of pedal-powered vehicles, more convenient, secure trike/bike parking will be needed. Like bicycles, trikes have been targets of thieves. Ruby I was stolen from the bike racks in the garage in my building. Last year Wildflower Terrace management installed a locked cage, an excellent theft deterrent.
Other large multi-family buildings need secure bike and trike parking. There is a growing effort to get this message out so that the new buildings are designed with this in mind. Catellus has paid attention and is addressing this in the 2017 revised Master Design Book, and with a meeting scheduled in late May.
For trike parking, racks need to have proper spacing between them. Many we’ve seen in Mueller are too close together and/or too high to work well for parking trikes. Also, visibility is a deterrent to theft; it’s better to park where folks can see your bike or trike.
Parking at home: Too many folks have communicated to us that they don’t ride their bikes because they are hard to get to in their garages. Others have said that they would not have room for a trike in their garages. There are solutions for these problems.
One possibility is folding trikes. One of our trikes folds around to the side next to the back wheel. It should fit into tight spaces in the garage and in many trunks, too. Shared use of trikes among neighbors is another answer. We will explore what is being considered to facilitate shared use of trikes and bikes in Mueller in a future piece.
Parking when out and about: Our HEB has adequate bike racks and a means to repair bikes and add air to tires. The rest of the Market District has a pretty good supply of racks for now. However, we hope to have many more riders, and that will mean needing more places to park. The areas around Thinkery, B.D. Riley’s, and Alamo Drafthouse will need more racks for busy nights on Aldrich Street.
The Regional Retail District has too few racks, and they are too far apart. In our travels we haven’t seen many people on bikes or trikes in the Regional Retail District. We hope this changes in the future.
Residential streets: At a recent meeting at a home in the community, several attendees arriving on trikes and bikes had a difficult time finding enough trees and street posts to secure them. Other countries have solutions for this.
Care and repair of bikes and trikes: To be safe and reliable, bikes and trikes need proper care. It is not hard to learn how to do the simple things like checking the air in your tires and adjusting the brakes. However, it is always good to have someone who knows how to do maintenance and repairs correctly. Local bike shops and neighbors like Doug Ballew are always happy to help.
In future articles we’ll be looking more at bike and trike maintenance and repair, trike-sharing, and storage options.
For now: Let’s get more people riding, create more awareness of trikes, and find more people who can answer all these questions and concerns.
Ani Colt is co-founder of Trike Neighborhoods – Trike’N. In addition, she is founder and chair of the MNA’s Aging&Neighborhood Committee. Ani has lived in Wildflower Terrace since moving to Austin in April 2012. You can reach Ani at [email protected]. Preston “Ty” Tyree is a bicycle safety educator and serves on Austin’s Public Safety Commission. He has been involved in a wide variety of cycling groups over the past 25+ years.