We here at BikeProvo are all about riding bikes as a family. I personally run all my errands with my little four year old strapped to the back of my Xtracycle. We have posted some great articles on cargo bikes, family riding, and a very awesome mom. With the Clear The Air Event that is coming up we were preparing another post on riding as a family and why it is so great. The only problem is that Anne Fahey has written such an incredible piece on the subject we would only be repeating everything she has already said.
Anne’s article titled Babes on Bike appeared on Sightline Daily a few days ago. The article is written from Anne’s perspective of wanting to ride her three year old to pre-school but not being exactly sure on how to do it. In the article she interviews riders that she knows, and scours the internet for information on the different types of bikes that are available. The most impressive part of the article, which will be our jumping off point, is that she breaks down her interviews and research into ten categories each filled with great info and passion. We will start at the top of her list and work down from there in seven categories. Again, we are just recapping make sure to head over to her article and get the full effect.
1. No Turning Back
This section can all be summed up in one line from the article, “It’s the best thing we’ve done for our family!” I can personally vouch for this sentiment. Once you get a few rides under your belt with the little ones, and once you find a rhythm that works for you it really is hard doing quick short errands any other way. You begin to realize that the car takes longer, and is much more of a nuisance if you are just running to the grocery store for a few items, or to the park to play.
2. Bike Nurture and Culture
If you ride often or have ever ridden even once in adverse weather I am sure you have gotten the question of, “Do you hate cars?”, or “Are you some sort of Hippy?” Anne does a great job in this section illustrating that most families that bike also own cars, and are normal people, they just want their kids to grow up knowing there are other transportation options which in most cases are more convenient, enjoyable, and healthy. One of the reasons I am such a believer in the bike is that my parents told me at a young age if I wanted to do activities after school I would have to get there under my own power. All those years hopping curbs with my BMX bike on my way to practices, piano lessons, friends houses, etc. have went a long way in helping me see the bicycle as not only transportation or recreation but as both, as a lifestyle.
3. Top Notch Quality Time
From the article,
“I bike with my 2 year old daughter on board my bike. Every day we ride from Capitol Hill to Downtown, where I drop her off at preschool before continuing to on to my work in Columbia City. Our commute is the highlight of our day. ”
Wether it is going to get frozen yogurt (my little ones favorite treat), or pedaling over to preschool, bike time really is our best time as there are no emails, phone calls, or T.V.’s to distract us. It is our special time to talk and notice new things in the neighborhood.
4. A Sense Of Place
Not only do kids get a sense of place while riding around with you i.e. knowing where they live, and how to get there, they also notice their surroundings a lot more. Me and the little one were on a trip up to Orem and she pointed to a fire hydrant on the side of the road which was blue while exclaiming, “Dad look look. Aren’t those things usually red?” Personally I was amazed that she A. noticed the hydrant, and B. Realized something was not right with it. Being a bike advocate I also notice that my little one also points out riding behaviors. It is not uncommon for us to be riding around and for her to say something like, “Dad they should have helmets on, “or, “Dad only little kids should ride on the sidewalk.” 🙂
5. Gearing up, and Safety on Wheels
Both filled with great info on how to set up your bike, and how to keep the little ones safe. She even addresses the biggest fear I hear from parents who want to use trailers, which is the fear that some one will rear end the trailer,
One mom said that when she’s pulling the trailer, cars give her extra wide berth. Another dad told me, “It is also a great way of reducing any bike/car friction. Once people see [my son] up front, we’re usually smiled at.”
Before the little one was old enough to ride on the Xtracycle she was in a trailer for a solid 3 years, and in that whole time which included some long cycle tours we had 0 close calls, and 0 run ins. The only other thing I would add to these sections is to not use helmets on little ones while they are in the bike trailer. The reasons for this are two fold; first, trailers have three point harness and are five point roll cages meaning they are secure and strong, second, helmets weigh down a child’s head making it harder for them to keep there heads up which can cause strained neck muscles, and or, difficulty breathing if they fall asleep and slouch forward.
6. Community Resources.
Here in Provo, or the Utah Valley area, we have three community based resources. The first is BikeProvo (of course), the second is our local Bike Collective, and the third is the Provo Bicycle Committee. All three of these organizations are set up to help you in any way you need to get the little ones out pedaling with you. On top of these community based resources you also have your local bike shop which should have an assortment of kids seats, cargo bikes, helmets, etc. If you find that you LBS does not have these things start making suggestions. All the shops we have worked with in the area are more than willing to carry product if they feel there is a market. Finally, feel free to call me personally any time with questions about riding around with kids. I have four years of direct experience, and have researched the issue extensively. You can reach me at 801-356-1378.
7. Love at First Bike/Street Smarts
My little one has been on a bike (strider bikes) since she was two. She now owns and helps maintain her two bikes which are her “trick bike”, and her “pedal bike.” Due to her diligence we never leave the house with out helmets, never turn without signaling, never pass someone with out ringing our bells, and never cross the street without waving at the car which stopped for us. She is pretty rad, which apparently is not uncommon for kids who are our riding often. From the article,
I really do think the kids not only learn to balance, but also learn a lot of cycling habits (good or bad). My daughter knew how to shoulder check and use arm signals etc. right away, the minute she started riding her own bike. Both kids were a wee bit wobbly but had mastered bike riding by the end of one day on their own no training wheels.
In short riding with your family ( and by ‘family’ we mean you and a spouse, you and the kids, or you and friends), can be an enjoyable, and great way to get from point A to B while getting some exercise, and spending quality time together. This is without even mentioning that every time you ride your drive you are helping our great little city be that much better. Make sure to not miss the Clear The Air event this Saturday where you will get a chance to try out a bunch of different cargo bikes/kid carrying options, and win a FREE Xtracycle.