Saturday, July 5, 2008

Back to Biking

When Sofi was a baby, we biked. A lot. It was tons of fun. But when she grew out of the baby carrier (way earlier than most kids-- thank you, Mullen family genes :) ) our biking weekends went the way of all flesh. Jeremiah still biked to work and I took the bike on the occasional Walmart trip.

When we moved downtown in 2005 I assumed that we'd get back into it, but it is just too hard to find a way to tow along a growing three-y/o on a bike. They don't make carriers with a high enough weight capacity. I rode into town for my short gig at the tea shop, but it was mostly J who kept the tradition alive.

Then, of course, along came Judah! And things got even more complicated. But this summer, as gas prices have soared over $4 a gallon, I got desperate. I actually clocked my mileage for one week. It was a shocker. I drove over 45 miles in one week and no one trip was further than six or seven miles from my house-- most were under five. That's suuuuper sad. It made me realize what a waste of time driving is! 45 miles of potential exercise, fresh air and exhilaration for the kids. And as you have all heard me complain before, I have the hardest time finding space in the day when the kids are occupied and I can exercise. There had to be a way to return to The Way of The Bike.

And there is! Check it out! These are our new wheels. We all rode together downtown for the Valley Fourth last night and had a blast. Granted, Judah is not real thrilled with the helmet.

But I have high hopes that he will come to associate it with the fun of a bike trip and learn to love it as Sofi did.

I got so excited about all this (saving money, cutting down on our carbon footprint, getting exercise and fresh air, teaching the kids a different kind of lifestyle, etc) that I started Googling. I always do that when I get excited about something. Some people jump up and down. Some people call all their friends to tell them about it. Some people buy accessories. I go Googling (dibs on the copyright for that t-shirt).


I found out that there's a whole culture building up around using bikes as transportation, rather than recreation. As usual, the Europeans (the Danes, in particular) are waaay ahead of us on this. There are some really awesome website out there, chronicling some really cool trends and movements. I give you my favs:

Check them out, and let the guilt return you to a wiser way of life.

(Okay, okay, I realize I just got a little Mr Miyagi on you there. Sorry.)


Marc said...

Good to see you have embraced all the right arguments by opting for bike commutes. Thanks for the mention, too, obviously :).

Biking in the Netherlands is not perceived as a certain culture, movement or for just recreation, it's all utility based. Historically, from its conception in the 19th century, cycling has been part of our national DNA. After WW2 and during the rise of the automobile, bike usage declined sharply, but through a 40+ years long sustained effort (by the people and government), and pushed by the oil crises of the 70's (yeah, it rings a bell), we made it an integral part of society again.

Heavy taxation on cars and gas (now at over $10/gallon here), pushing cars out of the city and giving it back to pedestrians and cyclist, has lead us to where we are today. No quick fixes, but sustained efforts, smaller and bigger ones and continuous improvements.

The Danish approach has been very similar to the Dutch one.

Keep on riding! Cheers.

j said...

I just want to say that those pictures were taken before I adjusted Sofi's helmet...

The carrier is great, and easier to pull than I thought it would be. For around town, that is. It still does add weight and drag, so I wouldn't be thrilled about taking it on any hilly rides. And it get its own momentum, so pedaling feels a little different. There's a small and quickly alternating push-pull motion as you pull the carrier then it pushes you.