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.
Following up on my profile of Leanne, here’s Kate Gallery’s story. Kate lives on Washington D.C.’s Capitol Hill with her two-year-old daughter. She’s the owner of Recess Outings, which offers parent-child bicycle tours around the city and is on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She’s also offering a special deal for blog readers – if you use the discount code ‘timeforrecess’ on the Recess Outings website you get 50% off a ride!
1) How long have you been biking with your children and how did you get started?
I’ve been biking with my daughter for a little over a year. She’s now two and we started when she was about 11 months old. I was counting down the days until I thought she was ready. I’d missed biking so much at the end of my pregnancy and during those first months adjusting to life with a newborn, so I was eager to get started and share with her my love for spending time outdoors on a bike. As biking together quickly proved to be as fun as I’d dreamed, I started my weekend business, Recess Outings, that summer when she was one. We have a small fleet of bikes with attachable child seats available so parents and young children can simply sign up and join us for a D.C. ride. Helmets, equipment, snacks and logistics are taken care of so they don’t have to worry about any details beyond getting out the door.
2) What are your typical family biking outings? Are they mainly for transportation, recreation, or some combination of the two?
Right now, we primarily bike for recreation, whether as a family or leading group outings for Recess. The bike lanes of D.C. are fantastic, as are the trails along the Anacostia River. I hope to also start biking together more often for transportation, but it’s a long haul to work and daycare, so we’re slowly building up to that. We’ve started to make the trek together every once in awhile and it certainly feels like an accomplishment when we do.
3) Describe your current set-up for biking with your kids. What’s your dream set-up?
We ride simply beautiful Breezer Downtown 8 commuter bikes with rear, orange Yepp Maxi child seats. The seats accommodate kids up to 48 pounds, and for right now this is absolutely (!) my dream set-up. I love everything about these bikes and seats, and I think my daughter does too. I’m a gear junkie though, so I’m sure my dream set-up will evolve as my little one grows. I love riding around town and seeing the various ways others have opted to bike with their families, whether on cargo bikes, with tiny kiddos up front between the handlebars, or with trailers or WeeRide co-pilots picking up the rear. You name it, it makes me happy that there are so many options.
4) Do your children ride their own bikes or only on yours? What is their attitude towards biking?
My child is young, so she’s still just riding with me. But I gave her a mini bright green Schwinn balance bike at 18 months and she’s almost tall enough now to get rolling on her own. Needless to say, she loves biking like I do. When I push her balance bike down the sidewalk, she says, “Faster, faster.” In the seat on the back of my bike, she sings loudly, stretches out her arms like she’s flying, throws wobbly dance parties, and chants, “Go Mommy Go” when I’m climbing a hill. She often wears her helmet around the house and enjoys helping mom pump up the tires.
5) What do you love the most and the least about biking with your family?
I love all of those little things that excite her and I love that she is growing up with a love for being outside. I love hearing her thrill at observing the world from the bike seat, spotting birds and boats and very loud trucks. I’ve always found biking to provide the perfect pace at which to explore my surroundings; that is proving even more true as I watch a little one soak it all in.
6) What is your number one wish for improving family biking in your area?
I am so impressed with DC’s bike advocacy efforts. There are a lot of really good people here working to make local life in Washington both bike-friendly and family-friendly at the same time and I feel lucky to be part of this moment in the city’s time. More protected bike lanes and bike infrastructure would of course be fabulous, as would converting more drivers into bicyclists and/or winning them over enough to support, be more aware of, and think more positively about the bicyclists sharing the street. The advent of Bikeshare was revolutionary. Every single tiny improvement is huge, like the connector trail that recently opened from the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail up the the 11th Street bridge.
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?
Come out for a ride with Recess Outings and give it a shot! Biking is liberating, even with children.