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jonathankrall
04-03-2015, 10:43 AM
This month I'm writing about children, bikes, Kidical Mass, and bike to school day. I'd like to hear stories from parents about these. We all know the logical reasons to get kids on bikes, but I'd like to know what gets people to actually do it?

- How do you go from "that seems like a good idea" to "get your bike and let's go!" All input appreciated.

- Also, is anyone taking up the Kidical Mass effort in Alexandria this year? I hear the ride last year was a big success. Any info useful.

Jonathan Krall
http://www.alexandrianews.org/category/transportation-talk/

jrenaut
04-03-2015, 10:59 AM
What finally sealed the deal for me was summer camp. I'd been coveting the longtails that some other parents were using to bring their kids to school, though at the time school was walking distance and I didn't need the bike yet. But camp was different - home to camp to work was about 14 miles. The thought of having to do the camp drop in the car was horrifying (Columbia Heights to almost Silver Spring then back to Columbia Heights, find parking, then begin my commute to work).

We borrowed a friend's longtail - and old Xtracycle Radish - and it almost ended the experiment. It was too small for me and I could barely keep it upright with any weight on the back at all. But when we got the new Edgerunner that fit, there was no turning back. This was July 2014, and we have about 1800 miles on it since then. I do school 3 days a week, my wife does the other 2.

dasgeh
04-03-2015, 11:20 AM
This month I'm writing about children, bikes, Kidical Mass, and bike to school day. I'd like to hear stories from parents about these. We all know the logical reasons to get kids on bikes, but I'd like to know what gets people to actually do it?

- How do you go from "that seems like a good idea" to "get your bike and let's go!" All input appreciated.

- Also, is anyone taking up the Kidical Mass effort in Alexandria this year? I hear the ride last year was a big success. Any info useful.

Jonathan Krall
http://www.alexandrianews.org/category/transportation-talk/

Yay! I run Kidical Mass Arlington, and have 2 little ones (4 and 2), plus expecting #3 at the end of the month. We're a mostly-bike family because it's awesome. And since bike is the default, it's actually easier than the car (where do you park? how do you deal with toddlers in the parking lot? it takes a lot more thought for us than jumping on the bike). Getting the e-assist box bike sealed the deal - there's rarely an excuse not to bike.

I have tons to say on the subject and I'd be happy to put you in touch with the KM Alexandria folks -- they had 2 rides last summer, which were a great success, and I think they've been talking about this summer. KM Arl has a rough schedule up on our site - kidicalmassarl.blogspot.com. Best to just email me at bike . gillian [at] gmail

jrenaut
04-03-2015, 11:39 AM
I just realized that the reason I got an Xtracycle was induced demand from more roads and free parking. Well, more low-traffic bike-friendly routes and free bike parking, anyway. Cost to park a car at work: $19/day. Cost to park my bike at work in a secure garage: nothing. And while the SB roads from MD in NW back up, the bike lanes do not.

vvill
04-03-2015, 01:34 PM
This month I'm writing about children, bikes, Kidical Mass, and bike to school day. I'd like to hear stories from parents about these. We all know the logical reasons to get kids on bikes, but I'd like to know what gets people to actually do it?

- How do you go from "that seems like a good idea" to "get your bike and let's go!" All input appreciated.

I guess mostly I wanted to share something I love doing with my kids. It helps that it's a physical activity and lets you go exploring (two things kids generally really like).

Bike to School Day was fun the one time I did it, but I don't consider it that practical in terms of routing with the driver habits where I live. Although there's a family a couple blocks away whose kids ride to (the same) school a lot.

jonathankrall
04-07-2015, 08:37 AM
Thanks for replies so far. The way my article is shaping up, one of the themes is the idea that available gear (in shops) and facilities (on roads) is barely adequate for adults, much less families.

LAB's magazine, American Bicyclist, talked about this (see page 15 of the pdf file):
http://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/Winter_2015_magazine_web.pdf

Is this pretty much the case here in NoVa?

dasgeh
04-07-2015, 09:12 AM
Thanks for replies so far. The way my article is shaping up, one of the themes is the idea that available gear (in shops) and facilities (on roads) is barely adequate for adults, much less families.

LAB's magazine, American Bicyclist, talked about this (see page 15 of the pdf file):
http://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/Winter_2015_magazine_web.pdf

Is this pretty much the case here in NoVa?

Sorry - I owe you an email. Coming.

As to the immediate question, available gear in shops is barely adequate, but getting better. As far as finding information about gear, and opportunities to try stuff out, that's not bad around here. There are enough family rides and just enough families riding that in lots of places, you can learn a lot at the rides, or just at the park or school drop-off. And people will generally let you borrow their stuff to try it out (though, as Chris_S can attest, that might lead you to buying stuff) :-)

As for facilities, it's really hit or miss. In Arlington, we can get most of the places we want to go. But the routes aren't the same we'd take driving or even biking by ourselves (often to avoid hills), and sometimes they include a block or two on an uncomfortable road. Information on routes is a bigger problem -- looking at the Arlington Bike Map won't help you route for families, because the best routes for families aren't marked. BikeArlington is working on it, or so I'm told. I'd say Del Ray is similar to Arlington, but I can't speak to the rest of Alexandria. And traveling West of Arlington scares me, though we've been able to family-bike out to Falls Church a few times. I hear Reston is good for family biking.

americancyclo
04-07-2015, 09:39 AM
Thanks for replies so far. The way my article is shaping up, one of the themes is the idea that available gear (in shops) and facilities (on roads) is barely adequate for adults, much less families.

LAB's magazine, American Bicyclist, talked about this (see page 15 of the pdf file):
http://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/Winter_2015_magazine_web.pdf

Is this pretty much the case here in NoVa?

I think it's a little unfair to pin the family biking challenges on the local shops. From what I know, they operate on pretty slim margins and it's not going to fall to the bike shop owners to lead the family biking movement. They of course play a role, but I would think that there needs to be the demand from their customers before your local shop that stocks road and mountain bikes is going to start carrying $5,000 e-assist box bikes.

What do local shops like Bikenetic, Daily Rider, and Proteus have to say about how they've served their customers that need gear that is beyond the standard QBP stock?

Subby
04-07-2015, 09:59 AM
The biggest advantage of getting my youngest kids on bikes is that it has made them way more free range. They really started going on rides with me when they were 11 and now as 12s they are confident enough to ride on their own from our house to Victory Comics in the middle of Falls Church to play whatever card-based tourneys that are running. That's huge in our area. Back when I was a kid, it was standard. Now, any 12 y.o. going three miles from their house to the middle of Falls Church is probably getting driven in an SUV (funny side story - my wife left in her car at the same time the kids departed on their bikes so she could stop at the bank and get money for them. They still beat her there because car traffic was so bad on the weekend).

I regret not getting them out earlier (beyond the basic "teach them how to ride without training wheels"), but the hidden advantage is that they could immediately go on longer, more challenging rides with me, which in turn meant going cooler places. What really got them excited about going out was that every ride for the first 6 months ended in a cool coffee shops somewhere - whether it be Arlington or Vienna or DC or Alexandria or Shirlington. The more places we went, the more comfortable they became with riding on the road, riding with traffic, or riding on a busy trail.

So the tl;dr version: bribe your kids with food and beverages and they will become more independent. :D

jrenaut
04-07-2015, 10:40 AM
I think it's a little unfair to pin the family biking challenges on the local shops. From what I know, they operate on pretty slim margins and it's not going to fall to the bike shop owners to lead the family biking movement. They of course play a role, but I would think that there needs to be the demand from their customers before your local shop that stocks road and mountain bikes is going to start carrying $5,000 e-assist box bikes.

Agreed. I think the local shops (and I'm looking more at DC) do a pretty good job, and will do even better once they adjust to new demand for family biking stuff.

We're still pretty lacking in infrastructure, though. My 6 year old is brand new to riding without training wheels (if anyone needs advice on how NOT to train your kids to ride, you can do what I did, but in spite of our mistakes she's doing well now), and of course she wants to ride to school. It's just under 2.5 miles and all downhill in the morning and even though the route is mostly what I'd consider bike-friendly, it's nowhere near safe enough for me to let her ride it. DC has made huge steps towards being bike-friendly, but it's still nowhere near safe enough for kids her age to be out riding.

mstone
04-07-2015, 10:40 AM
I think it's a little unfair to pin the family biking challenges on the local shops. From what I know, they operate on pretty slim margins and it's not going to fall to the bike shop owners to lead the family biking movement. They of course play a role, but I would think that there needs to be the demand from their customers before your local shop that stocks road and mountain bikes is going to start carrying $5,000 e-assist box bikes.

What do local shops like Bikenetic, Daily Rider, and Proteus have to say about how they've served their customers that need gear that is beyond the standard QBP stock?

I didn't read it as a blame thing, it's just a fact. It is almost impossible to compare a variety of bicycles because every dealer stocks only particular brands, a selection of models within those brands, and a subset of sizes for those models. That's for regular bikes--it's even harder for bikes that aren't volume leaders. I don't see that as a solvable problem at the dealer level because there's not enough margin. It's something that is somewhat addressed by events at which people bring their bikes and other people look at them, but that isn't a very scalable or comprehensive approach. Bike shows are a possible approach, but getting people to them is hard.

APKhaos
04-07-2015, 12:26 PM
I regret not getting them out earlier (beyond the basic "teach them how to ride without training wheels"), but the hidden advantage is that they could immediately go on longer, more challenging rides with me, which in turn meant going cooler places.

My twins were 5 last summer, and upgraded from 16" bikes that weighed a ton to nice Al framed 20" bikes. After some local riding to build confidence we hit the MUPs. After a couple of tries it was clear that the combination of fast traffic and occasionally chaotic pedestrian behaviour undermined their confidence. We then tried the C & O towpath, which they loved. After a couple of 5 - 7 mile rides they wanted to go for a BIG ride. We set out from Carderrock and rode west on a hot summers day with plenty of water, lunch, and good trail snacks. We rode 19.1 miles out and return, and the twins flat out loved the adventure. Don't underestimate what younger kids can do. I did, but that ride proved me wrong. Of course they also wanted the Strava page to show and tell at school, and always check that I have my Garmin when we ride (!!).
They are dying to do some bigger rides this summer summer now that they they are six.
We were out on the C & O a few weeks back but it was way too soft in parts for a a long ride. They loved the mud though [emoji2]

http://tapatalk.imageshack.com/v2/15/04/07/25f537b51d8faae0427c6c247aef9601.jpg

peterw_diy
04-07-2015, 12:48 PM
Thanks for replies so far. The way my article is shaping up, one of the themes is the idea that available gear (in shops) and facilities (on roads) is barely adequate for adults, much less families.

I am intrigued, and skeptical. Especially on the gear front. Sure, I love my longtail that I had to cross the river to buy (thanks, Daily Rider). But most families do fine tooling around with old-school gear like rack-mounted child seats and cheap trailers. Just because $2000+ cargo bikes are better doesn't mean that your average LBS or Target can't get you an "adequate" rig to "get kids on bikes." Bike, helmet, lock, lights, and maybe some basic rain gear (not cycling--specific!) if you want to ride more frequently, that's all you need. There's a parent at my elementary school who carts his 1st grader to school on a basic aluminum rear rack. Often I wonder if I should chastise him for not using something "proper". You know, like a $600 Xtracycle "family" kit that the LBS doesn't keep in stock. But my aluminum rack is rated for 50 kg, and his kid's not half that heavy. What he's doing meets the standards of many other parts of the world. So why am I anxious about his behavior on well-patched NoVA roads?

Facilities: the other day some local tweep ragged on an official of some national DOT organization for daring to say that the pavement was fine and that accidents involving, and let me use today's orthodox wording, collisions involving people driving autos and people walking or riding bicycles are caused by human behavior. I love a protected bike lane as much as anyone else, and detest the local tendency to create door-zone bike lanes. But that official is every bit as right as he is wrong. Cars, guns, and chainsaws don't kill people -- people using those devices do. I hope you won't go out there and reinforce the SUV parents' fears that we need to spend hundreds of millions of $ developing better "facilities" before the helicopter kids of the 21st century can have even a hint of the free range childhood that many of us enjoyed Way Back When, pre-sharrows, pre-bike-lanes, pre-blinkies.

Sending the kid off on a bike is no different than sending the teenager off in a car -- as the child's skills increase, the child's range of options will grow. Around here I've been generally pretty pleased with behavior of people driving autos. Whether I have my 4yo on the back of the longtail or my 7yo riding solo in my wake, people driving cars around my part of NoVA seem supportive and cautiously deferential to us. Neighbor and public safety behavior is something else. Subby's 12yos can bike to the comic store, but can my 7yo bike 3 blocks of quiet neighborhood streets to the playground without somebody calling CPS on us?

Gear and facilities are "barely adequate for adults"? I'm having trouble imagining what your definition of "adequate" is. I suspect the problem is your phrase "get kids on bikes" -- to me it sounds more like you're judging the current gear & facilities with regard to going car-free. That's when you might need the gear that some of us on this thread have invested in, and when you desire better facilities (IMO mainly better parking, though I'd also like to see Duke St completely redesigned).

Nah, it's not a question of gear and facilities -- behavior, and more precisely, fear of behavior, is the biggest impediment to getting more kids on bikes. You seem to fear that without a wall of jersey barriers my kids are gonna get plowed down like Tom Palermo. I fear that nosy worry-wart neighbors will sic the cops on us if they see the kids venture off our block. Your fears can largely be addressed if you throw enough money at engineering more margin of error (and, more importantly, thereby decrease fear of behavior). But that doesn't mean that physical gear & facilities "improvements" are required to get kids on bikes.

nosrednaj
04-08-2015, 09:34 AM
This month I'm writing about children, bikes, Kidical Mass, and bike to school day. I'd like to hear stories from parents about these. We all know the logical reasons to get kids on bikes, but I'd like to know what gets people to actually do it?

Jonathan Krall
http://www.alexandrianews.org/category/transportation-talk/

Jonathan

What do you need to know? Since 2009 I've been leading the charge in Fairfax County to get more kids to bike to school. I can share what FC schools have done and how it's been furthered in some communities. Far too much info to write an email. I have personally not tried to get a KidicalMass ride in my area as I tend not to do those kinds of rides -- for no real good reason......but hoped biking to school encourages others to simply ride their bike more.

Our school has been on Nickelodeon, NPR, Salud America, Washington Post, Fairfax Times, Bicycling Magazine, Patch, Nike......

Jeff Anderson

jonathankrall
04-09-2015, 02:28 PM
"What do you need to know?"

First, great to hear about your proactive work in Fairfax. I have good info from this thread already, but would be happy to read more. The main thing I need to know is this: what do you want the public to know about family bicycling?

Also, because I am writing for alexandrianews.org, I still need to hear from Alexandria folk. I am seeking them out through other channels.

jonathankrall
04-09-2015, 02:41 PM
"What do you need to know?"

First, great to hear about your proactive work in Fairfax. I have good info from this thread already, but would be happy to read more. The main thing I need to know is this: what do you want the public to know about family bicycling?

Also, because I am writing for alexandrianews.org, I still need to hear from Alexandria folk. I am seeking them out through other channels.

Oops! I just realized I already had some Alexandria input in this thread. Thanks!

nosrednaj
04-09-2015, 04:41 PM
"What do you need to know?"

First, great to hear about your proactive work in Fairfax. I have good info from this thread already, but would be happy to read more. The main thing I need to know is this: what do you want the public to know about family bicycling?

Also, because I am writing for alexandrianews.org, I still need to hear from Alexandria folk. I am seeking them out through other channels.

Well.....if you want to chat you know how to reach me. Can't help as I live in Vienna.

I suggest you reach out to Trails for Youth re: SRTS in ACPS and the work they did there for 3-4 years.

Family biking: I think riding to school can be a catalyst .

jonathankrall
04-16-2015, 12:57 AM
Thanks to all for comments on this. I've got a draft written. If folks want to be quoted using their real names, please drop me a private message. Ill post a link when it comes out.

jonathankrall
04-21-2015, 06:16 PM
Thanks to all for comments on this. I've got a draft written. If folks want to be quoted using their real names, please drop me a private message. Ill post a link when it comes out.

As advertised, I here is a URL to the article. Thanks to all for comments, stories and other input.
http://www.alexandrianews.org/family-bicycling-the-kids-are-all-right-the-parents-less-so/
Also here:
http://www.thewashcycle.com/2015/04/family-bicycling-the-kids-are-all-right-the-parents-less-so.html

dasgeh
04-22-2015, 09:22 AM
As advertised, I here is a URL to the article. Thanks to all for comments, stories and other input.
http://www.alexandrianews.org/family-bicycling-the-kids-are-all-right-the-parents-less-so/
Also here:
http://www.thewashcycle.com/2015/04/family-bicycling-the-kids-are-all-right-the-parents-less-so.html

Thanks! This is great!!