Stairs are my biking nemesis. (Well, after cars, train tracks, and black ice.) My heavy Dutch and Danish bikes, Oma and Coco, are extremely difficult to navigate up and down stairs – or even impossible to navigate, depending on the number and steepness of the stairs. My Betty Foy weighs much less but she’s also tough with stairs, since her handlebars and basket are unwieldy. I deal with this simply by avoiding stairs, which is usually easy, since I park my bikes on the ground level at both home and work, plus there are ramps or elevators near almost all stairs, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A couple of times a year, though, I come across a small flight of stairs that presents the most convenient route by far. For example, the stairs above in the Lurie Botanical Gardens are much faster to descend than the far-away ramp. In those cases, I grab hold of the handlebars, squeeze the brakes, and make a spectacle of myself as I grunt my way up with a worried look in my eyes. Not fun.
Too bad all stairs do not have convenient bike ramps alongside, as is common in Amsterdam. Chicago has one that I know of, leading down a Lakefront Trail underpass.
The incline is so steep that the process is still a pain with a heavy bike, but it’s certainly much better than nothing.
I have a couple of friends who regularly carry their bikes up and down stairs and therefore could never buy a Dutch-style bike. I wonder how many of you out there are in the same situation.
Do you encounter stairs regularly while with your bike and, if so, does that keep you from buying a heavier bike?