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Thread: Questions about children and bikes

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    Default Questions about children and bikes

    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/catego...ortation-talk/

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    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.

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    dasgeh is offline Queen of Family Biking & All Things Kidical
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonathankrall View Post
    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/catego...ortation-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

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jonathankrall View Post
    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.

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    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/...gazine_web.pdf

    Is this pretty much the case here in NoVa?

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    dasgeh is offline Queen of Family Biking & All Things Kidical
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonathankrall View Post
    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/...gazine_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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jonathankrall View Post
    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/...gazine_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?

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    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.
    Last edited by Subby; 04-07-2015 at 12:10 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by americancyclo View Post
    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.

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