Bicycle Colorado

Mom on a Bike

Getting more women ridingZoe on Strider

A few days ago, Bicycle Colorado held its fourth annual Colorado Bike Summit. While I always find this event energizing and encouraging, this year I left feeling particularly motivated after one of the breakout sessions on Getting More Women Riding.

The room was full of people interested in finding more ways to get women out on bikes, and more ways to make women feel like they really belong out on the roads, paths and trails around our state.

There were many great ideas thrown around, such as all-women’s events and rides, creating more female-friendly bicycle clothing, and improving infrastructure to make riding easier and more accessible. What stuck with me most, though, was a discussion about being a mom and how that affects many women’s bike-riding habits.

There was talk about how tricky it is to actually tow your children on bikes, or the pressure of balancing with a kid on the front handlebars or on a back bike seat. It’s one thing to be on a bike yourself, but a whole other issue to bring children out into the world of cars and traffic and who knows what else. I hear this so often, both from friends and from people I have just met. We all keep making excuses about how it is just too hard.

Riding as a mom

My kids are two years old and four months old, and they are my world. I couldn’t wait to get my daughter on a bike. My friends at Bicycle Colorado even gave us a bike seat for our baby shower. Now, she is old enough to be out on a Strider, and I can’t wait for consistently warm spring days so we can get her out scooting around. It will only be a matter of months before my son can experience the freeing, happy feeling of a family bike ride.

I am also recently back to work after maternity leave. While I am eager to get back to my old commuting habits, I have to admit that I see the world a little differently when I think about commuting with two kids. I had it all figured out with one, but I now face a new logistical challenge.

Most days, I ride to my office downtown from Lakewood. The route I take to work is definitely the most efficient way, but not necessarily the route I would take with my family in tow.

Back in the saddle

My job at Bicycle Colorado is to educate more people about riding and being safe while they are on bikes. I visit schools and tell students and their parents how important it is to get out and ride together. I encourage them to be out in their neighborhoods so that people see them, so that more families will get out and ride, so that we can change the culture in their area. I help people plan safe routes to school, work and play. My job is to convince everyone how great it is to ride a bike whenever you can.

After a winter of being inside with my kids, I, too, have found myself unnecessarily timid about getting back out and riding. I am realizing that I need to practice what I preach and get back on the bike. Yes, it is hard, but it is definitely doable. It is just a matter of making the choice to get out and ride.

Be the change

Infrastructure changes take forever. Fancy clothing or scheduled women’s rides aren’t quite what I am looking for. Given limited free time in my new family of four, what I want is to spend good time with my kids doing what I love. I want to take them out to explore on bikes.

I need to get creative with finding new routes to show other moms (and dads) that this can be a way of life, even with kids. I need to be reminded that it’s not about riding your bike EVERYWHERE, EVERY TIME. It is OK to ease in and to do whatever works best for your family. And I need to show my own kids how special it is to spend time outside, feeling the breeze on your face and realizing the sheer joy that a simple bike ride brings.

How about you?

If you’re a parent, have you changed the way you ride? What obstacles have you faced in riding your bike with little kids? What advice would you share with other parents about how to incorporate riding in your family life?

Bicycle Colorado

About the Author: Bicycle Colorado

Bicycle Colorado is a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in Denver. We use advocacy, education and passion to make Colorado one of the most bicycle-friendly states in the nation. We encourage and promote bicycling, increase safety, improve conditions and provide a voice for people who ride bicycles in Colorado. With the support of our members and numerous partnerships across the public and private sector, we’ve made significant strides in improving bicycling since 1992.

COMMENTS (9)

Will Stingley - Reply

Great article Julia! Like most aspects of life, having kids has enhanced my biking life.

What I’ve learned biking with littles so far (mostly the hard way)

-Being prepared is half the battle. There’s twice as many parts to keep track and maintain, not to mention the cost. I recommend the Chariot/Thule cougar. They aren’t cheap, but grab one at REI when they do their 20% off sale. They hold their value extremely well.

-Make extra time. Grabbing groceries on bike with kids takes longer, especially that one time when your chariot and bike will get a flat. but to me is worth it. Just like me, I feel my son takes in so much more on a bike than in a car.

    Julia Davenport - Reply

    Thanks for the tips, Will! You are right that being prepared certainly helps, and being flexible is key. I also appreciate hearing what types of gear parents are happy with, as there is an overwhelming supply to choose from! Stay tuned for a post on that. Let’s get the kids together and ride soon.

Will Stingley - Reply

For super inspiration, check out thefamilyride.com

Jen - Reply

Great advice and inspiration. I have a section on my website called Inspiring Moms. They are all stories and links to posts about Moms finding time to ride with or without the little ones. I would love to feature you and this post. Thanks for inspiring other Moms to get out there! http://velomom.com/peloton/

    Julia Davenport - Reply

    Absolutely, Jen. The more we can spread the word and get more women out riding (with or without children), the better. Feel free to contact me about your site and about our Safe Routes to School programs. Thanks!

Jen - Reply

Would also love to chat about how our non-profit can help with Safe Routes to School. Getting kids active and riding without training wheels before school age is one of our missions. http://www.axelproject.com

Ron - Reply

I’m a soon to be dad expecting my first child (girl!!) in June and I am so excited when she gets to the age of being able to wheel around on a Strider and when I can put her in a Chariot and take her around Denver!!

    Julia Davenport - Reply

    Congratulations on your upcoming arrival, Ron. Cruising around with your kids is one of life’s little pleasures!

Emily - Reply

We started with our little one in the chariot trailor. We lived in Vancouver, Canada and liked having full weather protection for our daughter since we ride year round. Our commute to daycare was very quiet residential roads and a small amount of sidewalk. I could lock up the chariot and then continue my commute (approx 15 kms) to work without the extra weight.

We recently moved to Oakland, CA and I find I’m using the cargo bike with the Yepp seat almost exclusively now. The roads are busier and it feels better having our daughter on the bike instead of a couple feet back in the trailer. The cargo bike has been the best once she got big enough for the Yepp seat (she is 2 now and we started using it at about 18 months). I can grocery shop between work and day care. We ride to gymnastics class and to her favorite park with plenty of room for the diaper bag and her run bike.

The cargo bike is heavier and slower, but nothing made to haul kids is a performance machine! The upfront cost can seem high, but much cheaper than a car.

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