(As published in Florida’s ‘Fitness & Speed Skating Times’ & Vancouver’s ‘Momentum Magazine’)
By Lorne Milne
When my wife & fellow LM BLADESKOOL Instructor Jennifer Harvey Milne & I were expecting our son Dax, I researched jogging strollers so that he could safely join us on our inline skating activities & trips. ‘Stroller-Blading’ is a great family event (& beats transporting in a mini-van) as well as being a good training activity (with the added weight & wind resistance) but here are 17 safety points to keep in mind:
- Have strong inline skating skills before you take your child stroller-blading! The stroller is not a resting device for the beginning inline skater to learn on. Look for a certified inline skating instructor from (who has experience 'stroller-blading' with their child): the Skate IA, the United Skate School Group (www.unitedskateschools.org) or International Inline Skating Association (www.IISA.org), from the yellow pages, your local inline skate shop; or by contacting Lorne Milne & Jennifer Harvey Milne at LM Bladeskool (604-708-1055) to teach you the safest & most effective ways to blade & stroller-blade (learning with an empty jogging stroller before you take your child out).
- Have competence in blading up & down curbs before you attempt it with an empty stroller.
- A hand brake is important to slow down the stroller but don’t rely on it to slow yourself down as a skater. Make sure you have strong heel braking skills so that you could stop yourself (& the stroller if the stroller’s brakes wear down); Remember bladers travel about twice as fast as people jogging so slowing down is more challenging. Practice on flats before you tackle even slight hills.
- Larger wheels are easier to turn & make for a smoother ride; Our 19 inch air filled tires are cushy & you don’t have to worry about shaken-baby syndrome (if you are not taking it down mountain-bike calibre terrain) but the ride should be smooth so the child will be comfortable & can fall asleep.
- Back wheels that are angled out at the bottom (like the back of Volkswagen beetle) make for safer cornering.
- A 5 point harness built into the stroller to ensure that the child is secure.
- A reclinable stroller back will allow the child can fall asleep & so infants under 6 months can safely ride in them.
- A clear wind-screen will protect the kiddies eyes from watering.
- A clear window on the top will allow you to see how the child is doing.
- Sun-screen & a hat for the child are mandatory as the hood won’t protect the child from sunburn when you are blading towards the sun!
- Bring a blanket for those chilly times.
- Stow all straps from the baby bag/etc. securely so they don’t get caught in the wheels.
- Tie on a toy (that can‘t dangle in the moving parts) to entertain your child.
- 3m reflective tape & blinking red lights on the stroller for the stroller are wise in case you get caught out at twilight.
- Practice in a flat empty parking lot first & then stick to paved pathways as much as possible to reduce the risk of being hit by a car. When you do cross intersections use hand-signals to let cars know where you’re going.
- A helmet (as soon as the child is old enough to wear one) & shoes are valuable protective devices for the child.
- Purchase a large hockey duffel bag. We were able to remove the wheels & collapse our stroller so the whole gadget was portable on buses & on planes for our recent inline skate trips to California, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, & Vancouver Island.
Happy Strollerblading, Lorne!
PS. Blade slowly, safely in the safest locations when you have your child with you! They are the greatest valuable in your life!
PPS. You may see the Milne family Stroller-Blading in the Paris 'Friday Night Skate' alongside San Francisco's David Miles (on the Discovery Channel re-runs)