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. So far, I’ve interviewed Kate and Leanne, both in Washington D.C.
This interview presents a change of scenery, with answers from Stacy Bisker, who lives in the bitter cold of Buffalo, NY. (I’m originally from upstate New York and even thinking of Buffalo gives me chills. I went to a Bills game there once in the winter and it was one of the coldest times of my life.) It’s especially impressive because she has four children (14, 12, 9 and 6 years old) and mainly bikes for transportation. You can find her family on Facebook, Instagram, and the archive of her blog at A Simple Six.
1) How long have you been biking with your children and how did you get started?
I think we have been cycling for five and a half years now. We set out to make some financial changes and ended up living a more fulfilling life. I borrowed a basement beater bicycle and trailer from friends, invested $50 in a tune up, and off we rolled. Eventually we saved enough on reducing our car fleet from two to one and paying off the loan with fuel savings that we transitioned to a cargo bike, then two cargo bikes, then three cargo bikes…
2) What are your typical family biking outings? Are they mainly for transportation, recreation, or some combination of the two?
We cycle for transportation. Brent, my husband, rides to work daily and might loop in an errand. The children bike to all their enrichment activities and sports. I ride to social events, volunteer gigs, appointments, and more recently to explore the city.
3) Describe your current set-up for biking with your kids. What’s your dream set-up?
Brent rides a Yuba Mundo. He may toss a kid on the deck occasionally. I have now have an assisted bakfiets and fill it with our new puppy, the nine year old and sometimes the six year old. The 14 and 12 year olds sometimes ride the tandem and other times ride bicycles they built up themselves through a local recycle a bicycle program. The six year old has a 20″ bike he dreams of accessorizing with a rack, panniers, cup holder and fenders. Our nine year old is a two time Guillain Barre Syndrome survivor and hasn’t mastered bicycling yet. He might ride his California Chariot scooter, take the long board, or more often hop in the bakfiets or on the Yuba. He loves the tandem but we don’t always have a pilot for him to use that set up.
My dream set up would be Brompton options for everyone, an Onderwater Triple on deck, and maybe a new assisted Edgerunner to go along with some of what we already have. Maybe. But I think my dream would only be complete with better driver education and awareness, exceptional national infrastructure, and a garage with a working door to hold it all.
4) What are your kids’ attitudes about cycling?
Their attitudes vary. The 14 year old is starting to see the independence it offers her. The 12 year old is grumpy about cycling because none of his friends do. He wants us to drive him around like “normal” parents but will ride when walking is a little less comfortable. The youngest loves cycling. He enjoys the accomplishment of the challenge and the sense of pride for what he can do by bicycle. He’s also the one who grew up riding. The nine year old may not ride but doesn’t think much about the car vs transit vs bicycle vs walking.
5) What do you love the most about biking with your family?
I enjoy slowing down and turning what feels like a chore when driving into a family joy.
6) What is your number one wish for improving family biking in your area?
If more people made the choice to bicycle too. I’d like to illustrate the need and demand for infrastructure changes and influence attitudes by having people simply bike. Be the change.
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?
Find a friend (in real life or online!) to take you along with them. Ask a lot of questions. Start small. Go slow. Wear sunscreen. Life’s a journey.
Thanks for sharing your perspective, Stacy!