When Mom’s Taxi is a Bike

12 May

When I speak up at public meetings for improving bicycling in my city, I regularly hear the naysayers: “You can’t carry groceries on a bike,” “You can’t ride in the rain,” “You can’t ride a bike in professional clothes,” “It’s too cold and dark in the winter.” I can speak from personal experience to handily dispel all these myths.

But for “Mothers need cars to take their kids all over town” I have to rely on stories from my friends. Like Karin, my former housemate who bought a bike trailer and started taking her son Anthony to day care on her way to work as soon as he could hold up his head. The 10 mile round trip gave Karin regular exercise that fit within a tight mommy schedule. And trust me, Karin isn’t a happy camper without regular exercise.

Now Karin has another job that doesn’t work for a bike commute with a day care drop off, but she and Anthony regularly ride around town: to the park, the farmer’s market, the swimming pool and even Baskin Robbins.

Karin and I met Elly through Girl Scouts where we formed a group we called the “leaders without daughters” because we didn’t have kids. Like Karin, Elly now has a son who rides with her to day care and around town. Elly says: “He sings to me while we ride (and makes up songs). I think he enjoys it because everything is closer and more immediate. He can say hello to people we pass, point out dogs and interesting sights.”

When Karin starting riding baby Anthony to day care on her work commute, she was the only parent I knew who did it. Now, I’m seeing more and more riding parents their kids to day care or to school. I rarely get the opportunity to snap a shot. They’re rushing to get to school while I’m rushing to catch the train.

But at the Energizer Station on Bike to Work Day last week I met this family. The mom and baby were riding to work and day care at Stanford University. The dad and sibling were along for the ride. All were perfectly content.

Mom & Dad at Caltrain

Karin told me a long time ago I should write about balance bikes. She said that Anthony learned to ride a two-wheel pedal bike in less than an hour because he had ridden a balance bike first. Since I only write about what I experience directly, I wish I had been there to see it. I can only imagine the smile on Anthony’s face.

But I did meet this two-year-old girl rocking a balance bike as she and her parents rode through our cul-de-sac. They had come from the grocery store almost 1/2 mile away and had another 1/2 mile to go before the reached home. That little girl has both endurance and some mad downhill skillz as you’ll see below.

Do you use a bike to take your kid to day care, to school or just around town? What were your biggest challenges? What tips do you have for parents who are curious to try it?

Photos of Karin and Elly in this post are courtesy of them and are used with their permission.


Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Family Rides


3 responses to “When Mom’s Taxi is a Bike

  1. Elle

    May 12, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    We got rid of our car and use our bikes for just about everything! We started with a trailer, each kid was about 6 months old when we began riding. Once we realized that we could use our bikes as transportation, we invested in a cargo bike (then, dumped the car and added another cargo bike). It made a world of difference! I could bike longer, faster, and more comfortably (for all of us) than with the trailer. Totally worth the investment–especially for my sanity!

    • ladyfleur

      May 13, 2013 at 6:34 pm

      That’s cool that you upgraded to not one, but two cargo bikes. Can you and the kids’ dad share the same bike? That would be particularly cool. There are few bikes that Dick and I can share since he’s 6’2″ with long legs and I’m 5’6″ with short legs.

      • Elle

        May 14, 2013 at 8:02 pm

        We’re pretty lucky that we can basically swap bikes back and forth. He’s a bit taller but shorter legs and I’m shorter with longer legs. The reach can be an issue because he has a long torso but we’ve switched to more upright bikes and that’s helped. The only thing is that he hasn’t mastered the Bullitt longjohn yet so he’s stuck on the Mundo while I ride both 🙂


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