The Bike-To-Work-Week gods had plans for me … even though I don’t actually work.
On Mother’s Day, May 13, a wheel fell off my stroller.
Walking is my main mode of transportation, and I love it. Even with its distance limitations, pushing a stroller felt like a safe alternative to driving and less annoying than taking the bus.
My daughters, 18 months and 3, are too old for us to justify buying another stroller and too young to walk the two-mile roundtrip to downtown, the playground, or the library.
Since I gave up driving almost a year ago, I’ve ignored the advice of cycling advocates, both on the web and in real life, because I thought walking served my family just fine.
Now, without a stroller, it was time to buy a bike. And a trailer that hooks onto the back. And helmets. And test drive it to the downtown vegetarian coffee shop for a breakfast sandwich.
And finally this week, I strapped in the girls for a ride to the playground — and they loved it. Why, I think, did I wait so long?
The last time I used a bike for getting around town, I was an immortal 23-year-old riding against traffic in Washington, D.C. Sure Normal, Ill., is no East Coast, but am I risking my kids’ safety, especially after the discussions about bike safety here on Gristmill in the last week? I’m sure I won’t dangerously maneuver around cabs in rush hour traffic, but even on mostly empty side streets I worry about getting hit by a car, something I never thought about pushing the stroller.
Also, bikes are expensive. A one-income household has to make these decisions carefully. What if I bought a bike and trailer and never used them, thrusting my family into financial ruin?
Enter my husband, the voice of reason, who said, “You’ll ride it to the pool with the girls, have a great time, and love it.”
“Then,” he added, “you’ll pass the gas station on the way home, see people fueling up at $4 a gallon and think, ‘Suckers’.”
I can see why cyclists are passionate about riding.
The idea of running parental errands on a bike isn’t unique. I’ve often thought about copying this grocery-toting Portland mom. And I see other parents around town carting their kids to the playground, although I have yet to see them at the grocery store.
A bike makes sense for any parent who wants to drive less. Biking to work doesn’t have to mean riding to an office and back.
My ride to the community pool takes 10 minutes. A regional grocery chain plans to open a store a mile from my house, accessible from the bike-friendly Constitution Trail. I could lose 10 pounds.
After my first trip to the playground with the Trek hybrid and Burley kid trailer, I asked my 3-year-old if she liked the bike. Yes, she said. I asked if she missed the stroller.
Yes, she repeated.
Then she added, “I like the bike better.”
Yeah. Me too.