Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Cars Stink, Ride a Bike!

I don't have a car, and ever since Cole was old enough to wear a helmet, he and I have made a lot of trips by bike together. Riding provides a great opportunity to see and learn about the city, a practical way for busy parents to stay in shape, and an active and visible way to cut pollution and oil demand. Plus it's usually faster (and definitely more fun!) than taking the bus.

Unfortunately, I know a lot of parents, especially urban parents, are scared to take their little ones out on the road. If you fall into that category, I encourage you to take a look at the new Family Biking site The San Francisco Bike Coalition just put up, which has some really clear, practical information about equipment, safety, and good places to ride. It also includes a discussion forum where you can ask questions, like the ever-pressing "Will the Xtracycle fit in a MUNI bus rack?"

Hope to see you on the road!


Anonymous said...

You're right! Biking with kids are healthy and gives lots of fun.

I linked you up in my blog, hope that's ok with you.

Granny said...

I didn't own a car until the last 2 years I lived in SF. They wre more of a nuisance than anything else.

Finally needed one for weekend travel which was the only time usually that I drove it.

Muni and BART go everywhere and I don't have to park either one of them.

Chip said...

Neither of us owned cars until we moved to this town with very small kids in our mid-30s. Before that we lived in cities where mass transportation was great. When we spent a year in California we got around on bikes. My kids loved the baby-bike seat I used to have them in.

I still bike to work (or when the snow gets too much, I take the bus) and avoid driving as much as possible. You're lucky you can get by totally without a car!

Jeremy Adam Smith said...

Chris knows my wife and she might be one of the people he's thinking of when he writes, "I know a lot of parents, especially urban parents, are scared to take their little ones out on the road."

I'm not sure how right or wrong she is. I've riden a bike around SF for 6 years (and around Boston for 5 years before that) and I've never even come close to a life-threatening incident (I've had drivers yell at me for dumb reasons, but that's a different matter). However, Liko's little body does feel very exposed in his baby seat and I've never taken him out beyond our neighborhood or the Marin headlands.

I applaud SFBC putting up the family biking site, but I'm not sure how much that can do to alleviate real fears. Ultimately only more bike lanes and traffic calmning measures can put people like my wife at ease.

I was once talking to a woman from Finland about biking there. To her (I should note she's a fundamentalist Christian and wife of a Republican voter) it was just common sense that cities should prioritize safety for bikers and pedestrians and create bikes lanes, etc. "It's healthy and natural for children to be able to ride their bikes and have adventures," she said. "That's why we have to have safe places for them to ride their bikes."

Of course..,

Incidentally, I'm posting this comment from the offices of Alternatives for Community and Environment in Boston, which works on issues of transit justice and sanity, for whom I'm doing some work. You can learn more about ACE at http://www.ace-ej.org/.

Jeremy Adam Smith said...

Check out this post and discussion thread on the conservative Brothers Judd blog -- note how an attack on stay-at-home dads (me, actually) morphs into an attack on public transportation which morphs into an attack on women. Weird, and weirdly pertinent to this discussion.

Anonymous said...

Biking may be okay in Boston proper, but not in its suburbs. The dismal support of infrastructure in MA means the shoulders are crumbling, potholes wrench handle bars out of one's grip while twisting rims, sand and gravel left over from winter (still) are likely to send a bike skidding in a turn. Add to that obnoxious drivers and you are putting your life, and that of your child, into real danger.