Biking to work is a great way to fit exercise into the routine of an adult’s day, but there are other ways to improve your and your kids’ health with bicycling. We have seen the traffic jams around school, but are there any other ways to get kids who are too young to ride their own bikes to school? What about running errands? Here are some testimonials from residents of central Contra Costa County (not currently known for its great bike infrastructure) who use bikes, cargo bikes, tandems, and trailers to accomplish these and many other tasks.
From Kristin Tennessen:
My kid started preschool at age 2 and at first started riding in the bike trailer. When he was 3.5 he started riding his own bike 2 miles there, and 2 miles back. We chose preschools partly on bike accessibility. We want to teach our kids values such as exercise, clean air, independence, nature, community, and it’s contradicting to do that from the backseat of a car. Kids learn by what you do, not what you say. The elementary school is way off the trail but we recently discovered some back routes that might work next year.
I see the long lines of idling cars during pick-ups and drop-offs, and more than once a parent has mentioned to me how horrible the experience is. Does any parent enjoy the pick off/drop off in a car?? I So my question is: do parents really want to drive their kids to school?
I love bicycling with my kids. I love getting exercise and hearing their thoughts on what we see. I love watching them get better and better at something that is also utilitarian.
I’m concerned that kids spend their first 16 years in a car and what that means for when they get their license. Do they understand what it’s like to be in a crosswalk and someone zooms past you? Do they understand what it feels like when a car passes you very closely while riding your bike? Is there any more compassionate way to educate drivers than encouraging being on the other side of the windshield?
When I go to the park with my kids, I don’t worry about them running away into the street. I let my kids run up to a stop sign and know they will stay on the sidewalk at a safe distance away and wait for me. (I’m still terrified a driver will come up on the curb like on Treat.) They’ve been practicing keeping themselves safe from motorists their whole life. They know how to look both ways before going through a green light because motorists don’t always stop. They say “passing on your left” and ring their bell. They know that cars can’t park on the trail or block handicap entrances and dogs are supposed to be on leashes. Frankly, my kids learn more life skills on the way to/from school than they learn at school.
From Stephen Fairclough:
“This is a few years old now, but we bike to school and as many activities as we can. My kids usually ask if we can bike there. They are disappointed when I say a route isn’t safe.”
And here is a bakfiets (Dutch style cargo bike) in action – also locally.