May is National Bike Month! To celebrate, I’ll be profiling some awesome families who bike with their kids for transportation and recreation. Later on, I’ll also highlight some excellent resources for family biking.
To start with, here’s a profile of Leanne, who lives in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, D.C. She kindly answered my call for families willing to be profiled that I put out on the D.C. Family Biking Facebook Group. She lives with her almost-two-year-old daughter and her husband.
1) How long have you been biking with your children and how did you get started?
Just under a year – we started biking with our daughter from just after she turned one. It took us a while to get a seat, helmet, etc. We love biking – my husband commutes by bike every day, and I commute twice a week – so it was always in the plan.
2) What are your typical family biking outings? Are they mainly for transportation, recreation, or some combination of the two?
Now that it’s nice out, we are biking her to day care maybe once a week. But mostly, [biking is] for recreation: to the park, around the neighborhood, to music class, the library, etc.
3) Describe your current set-up for biking with your kids. What’s your dream set-up?
We have our commuting bikes and we have our child-transporting bike, a REI Novara Barrow with a Topeak child seat. I think our ideal would be a mid-tail electric assist bike, but we were worried about the investment. We may consider this after we know where she’s going to school, if that’s the easiest way to get her there.
4) Do your children ride their own bikes or only on yours? What is their attitude towards biking?
Because of her age, she bikes with us. She loves biking – bicycle is one of her favorite words, and she loves being on the bike (mostly…). She sees her dad leave every day on the bike, so she associates it with him.
5) What do you love the most and the least about biking with your family?
The least favorite is our house and storage. We live in a small row house with no garage or place to store bikes, so we keep our commuting bikes in our basement and our parent bike outside, but locked up. We lug them up and down the basement stairs. But there’s a lot of running around to get all the pieces – seat, helmet, lock, etc. – so it’s not a quick endeavor. I hate that there are so few bike trails or bike lanes for where we need to go (across town, not just to downtown). But I love the ease of transport, the lack of need for parking, being outdoors, the slower method of transport, and the joy our daughter gets out of it.
6) What is your number one wish for improving family biking in your area?
More biking infrastructure – better trails and bike lanes.
7) What is your best piece of advice for a parent looking to start biking with their children, either on the parent’s bike or on the children’s own bikes?
It can take some effort, but it’s worth it. There’s not that much information out there on the best ways to transport kids, and, like everything with parenting, people have their preferences (front seat/back seat/trailer wars). But do what you like and know, and just go with it. It’ll be fun!
Thanks to Leanne for talking about her family and experience!