We published a link to the following article on our Facebook page, and it’s worth sharing here, too.
Biking with kids is all the rage in Portland these days, but biking with six kids between the ages of 2 and 11? That’s something I never would have thought possible before I met southeast Portland resident Emily Finch.
Finch, 34, is a powerhouse. Watching her pedal her bakfiets cargo bike with four kids in the front, another one in a child seat behind her, and another one on a bike attached to hers via the rear rack, is a sight that not only inspires — it forces you to re-think what’s possible.
Read the rest of the article and see more pics over at Bikeportland.org.
As the article mentions, and as we’ve talked about repeatedly here — if you have the will and the desire to incorporate two wheels into your life, it CAN be done! I’ve met too many people “on the fence” about bike commuting…many of whom get hung up in logistical concerns or questions about what to do with their kids/clothes/appearance/safety/etc. While not everyone can forgo a car and switch to a bike (we understand that and accept that, believe it or not), there are still a LOT of people out there who could do it if they only put their minds to it.
Ridekick Power Trailer is one of the newest sponsors to support BikeCommuters.com. Their product is this really cool trailer that can push a rider up to 19mph. Plus, it has a unique storage compartment that allows you to store just about anything that would fit in there.
Here’s a video that best describes what the Ridekick Power Trailer is.
I’ll be meeting with a Ridekick Power Trailer Associate in the near future to test out one of their units. They also need our votes so their business can be considered for a $250K grant that is sponsored by Chase Bank and LivingSocial. They need at least 175 more votes by the end of June to be considered. In order to vote, you must have a Facebook account. It takes about 30 seconds to vote for Ridekick.
Here’s how to vote:
You MUST HAVE A FACEBOOK ACCOUNT then:
1) Go to www.missionsmallbusiness.com
2) Scroll down and click “Log In and Support”
3) Login (using your Facebook login and password)
4) Search business name: Ridekick International
6) Post on your Facebook wall to help spread the word!
This week’s commuter profile comes from Jed Reynolds, longtime reader of our humble site. Jed’s got lots of stuff to share, so let’s get started!
Name: Jed Reynolds
How long have you been a bike commuter?
I took bicycling casually about 15 years ago while in college–I got around using a mountain bike and transit. I eventually took being a software contractor pretty seriously, bought a car, and lost the bike. Eight years ago, I moved to Bellingham, and I bought a bike to get to my first job here, but I still occasionally drove to work. In the last three years I have “figured it out”…my knees don’t bug me, and I thoroughly got bit by the cycling bug. I’ve been a full time bike commuter for approaching two years and I’m busy cycling through my second winter in the pacific northwest!
Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?
Not wanting to own a car was while I was in college was a start. Now it’s about getting exercise and avoiding buying gas are why I started biking to work. Once my office relocated closer to home to about six miles–that seemed much less daunting to me. My health has changed and getting regular exercise has become a necessity. I’ve gotten get used to biking about thirteen miles a day, or more if I have time to expand the route.
How does bicycle commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?
I can’t claim to be the most frugal cyclist, but this year I did downgrade from two cars to one. If it weren’t so fun to upgrade my bikes, I’d actually save money. Using my cargo bike, I can go for about five weeks without touching the van. (My van is still very useful for family trips.) All my typical shopping I can fit in plastic storage boxes on my cargo bike. I also deliver my kids to school by bike, using a trailer or on the cargo bike. I haven’t calculated my savings, but the money wasn’t as important to me as the fun riding and the righteous feeling of minimizing my car use.
I’m feeling healthy and am now in better shape than when I was in high school! I realized recently that I really did need an hour or more of exercise a day. I didn’t lose 40lbs from just from cycling, however. The truth really is too serious: type II diabetes. I control my health with medication, diet and exercise. I have no excuse to live a sedate lifestyle now. Rather, I feel a responsibility to model an active lifestyle. (There are a million new cases of type II diabetes every year. Please take diet and exercise seriously. [Footnote: 1.6 million people in the United States aged 20 years or older are diagnosed with diabetes every year – http://www.dagc.org/diastatsus.asp ])
People from my past will find a new Jed. Previously I was a sloth-like asocial computer geek–never a fan of exercise and derisive of organized sports and loathed “jocks.” I’ve dropped all that attitude. Now I’m eager take my kids on bike tips in any weather, and I’m planning a summer of bike picnics and eventually bike camping.
I no longer talk only about computers–I can strike up a conversation about bicycling with almost anyone, and it actually feels much better. (Other people don’t like to talk about computers? Wow.). I’ve made friends in my neighborhood by offering bike tune ups. Just drawing a bicycle on my name tag at gathering invites conversations.
My inner childhood mechanic loves geeky DIY bike culture. I’ve been cutting up scraps of this and that to fashion light brackets and fender extensions. For my cargo bike I made a bright yellow rain tarp using reclaimed inner-tube as tie-downs. I’ve gone on my second tweed ride with my sons! (Tweed rides are almost as geeky as attending a Renassance Fair or being a larper [http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=LARP].)
My family relationships have been enriched in other ways. I have a brother in law who’s a professional bike mechanic and my sister has a 26 mile daily bike commute…so we always have something to talk about. As you can tell…I’m still waiting for this bicyclist thing to improve my relationships.
What do you do for a living and where do you live?
I’ve been a web application programmer and Linux system administrator for over a decade. Occasionally I hear that computer programmers tend to like bicycles, but it still seems uncommon. Conversely, Bellingham is very bike friendly and there’s a local software company that not only has its own bike shop, it keeps winning a pile of the bike to work month challenges. [http://blog.logos.com/archives/2009/05/bike_to_work_day.html] Editor’s note: we featured Logos and their bike commuter incentives back in 2009. Take a look at our original article by clicking here.
Bellingham has been recognized as a bike friendly town [http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bicyclefriendlyamerica/communities/bfc_bellingham.php] [http://www.bicyclepaper.com/articles/2010/8/league_of_american_bicyclists_2010_state_and_community_rankings]
What kind(s) of bike(s) do you have?
I have three bikes that I love to ride: a Trek 7200 that I installed fenders and trekking bars on, and a 58cm Novara Expresso XC I turned turned Xtracycle. I’ve also started learning to ride a recumbent and now I have a Rans Tailwind. I also pull a Burley Bee trailer for shopping and lugging kids in…sometimes I tow it behind my Xtracycle.
I recently sold a Trek 3900 that I hybridized–taped the fenders up with yellow tape, and extended the fenders with milk jug panels, added toe clips and a rack. Good bike. I also sold a Trek 820 that I also made a rain commuter with yellow fenders. Now I just have one more Trek 820 to outfit with some yellow fenders on and sell.
Any funny/interesting commuting story you’d like to share?
My route takes me up Northwest Avenue and under Interstate 5. That area until just recently has been a snarl with bad left turn traffic and then construction to redevelop the intersection with a roundabout. Going home months ago on my mountain bike, I was passing through this underpass and a contractors pickup rumbles by and I hear the tinkle of nails in his truck. Suddenly I cannot pedal and I’m skidding right into the middle off the offramp merge lane! Luckily, I land on my feet and still full of adrenaline I don’t skip a beat to drag my bike to the shoulder. The bike will not coast. I drug it to the sidewalk, unhooked the panniers, dug out my toolkit, and what did I discover but a five inch nickel-plated nail slammed through both sidewalls of the tire! The nail was wedged against the rear brake pads which explains my sudden skid. I had just taken the read wheel off when I look up to see on of my neighbors parked right next to me with his trunk open! “Need a ride?” I love living in a small city.
What do people say when you’re a bike commuter?
While its common in Bellingham to compare bike commutes, I’ve met a variety of reactions. Generally-impressed is almost as common a reaction as nodding-approval. People in line at the grocery often ask how far I ride, and then they seem quite reflective and wish that I stay safe on the road. I enjoyed talking to a grocery bagger who was astounded that anyone could bike from Bellingham to Ferndale.
I get impressed looks from people when I clarify that I’m looking forward to another winter on the bike. Snow? Yes: studded tires! Rain can’t stop me, its part of the adventure (like camping). But I admit it–wind will stop me. Sustained winds over 25mph are not safe or enjoyable, and gusts beyond 35mph have pushed me to a standstill and into traffic. On those days, I’m fortunate that I can work from home.
People are often left with the impression that I’ve been biking and athletic my whole life. That’s not the case at all–overweight nerd programmer hated exercise, never played a sport and resents sports on TV even more.
How about bicycling advocacy? Groups?
I’ve recently met many of the local biking and transit advocates in Bellingham: Mary and Linda and Karen from Whatcom SmartTrips [https://www.whatcomsmarttrips.org/] and EverybodyBIKE [http://www.everybodybike.com/]. I’ve won some transit prizes from our SmartTrips program. This summer I attended a recognition ceremony at the farmers market with my younger son. We met the mayor Dan Pike and congressman Rick Larsen. Mayor Pike does his best to ride to work…and so have a many previous Bellingham mayors.
But its not really up to my congressman to model the behavior I expect. Like Ghandi said: you must be the change you wish to see in the world. When I bike, I feel like that change. When I talk about bicycling, I also feel like that change. After bragging how much I save on gas, I often ask people if they ever considered biking to work. I invite people to tell me why their commute wouldn’t work by bicycle.
People’s comfort zone is pretty obvious, but some people have provided other instructive answers:
• people live dozens of miles away
• people work early shift and have to leave the house at 3AM to be in my 4:30AM
• people work late shift and I don’t want to bike in the dark
• people run, don’t have time to bike
• people live X miles up a 50mph windy highway lacking bike lanes or any shoulder
• afraid of traffic
• that huge hill
• “that wife” put the bike behind the couch again
Bicycling is just bicycling, of course, it’s not superior for all people. I believe that advocacy has got to be fun. Bike parades, themed rides, and multi-economic angles need to play together. I believe in keeping the conversation going around parents with kids. I think that getting groceries while taking the kids with you – on a bicycle – is how we need to break our addiction to cars.
In Bellingham, there is an inspiring project providing disadvantaged youths bicycles and group rides called The Bike Shop [http://www.thebikeshop1.org/]. Families wanting bike come in and can buy a really cheap beat up bike…but they cannot leave with it until they’ve learned to fix it up. This helps build independence and removes the concept that bikes are a disposable appliance.
Thank you, Jed, for sharing your words and stories with us. For the rest of you who would like to be featured in a future “commuter profile“, drop us a line at ghostrider[at]bikecommuters[dot]com.
Kon’nichiwa (こんにちは) Bike Commuters! All around the world, it seems there are micro-cultures and macro-cultures of bike commuters and their preferred two-wheeled breeds of choice. Dutch city bikes, single speeds and fixies, fendered beach cruisers, ghetto-rigged MTBs, folding bikes, electric-assist, road bikes and the like… Going along with my love for all things cute and AZN (that’s my college sorority – Alpha Zeta Nu, we luv yoooo!) I have developed an internet stalker crush after Japanese MAMACHARI bikes! Oh Mamachari, where have you been all my life and why have I never found you until now in my Google search results? Apparently, there are all kinds of blogs out there for the originally women-specific bike, tailored to child/dog/grocery-toting around Japan. Let’s take a looksy:
In Treehugger’s blog post “Introducing: The Mamachari Bicycle” their author admits to owning and riding a mamachari (as if it were a guilty pleasure). When asked for the textbook definition of a mamachari, the author defined it as:
“…a really simple bicycle that you see all over Japan. Usually mothers use them for quick trips to the grocery store or to bring the kids to kindergarden. Thus the name, a combination of “mama” and “chariot”. Nope, the mamachari is not particularly sexy, but it is easy to ride and always comes with a basket up front. Plus a baby seat. Or sometimes two babyseats: one up front and one in the back.”
Fenders, baskets, chainguards, skirtguards (what IS that!?), three-speeds, child seats, racks galore, bells, dynamo lights, and kickstands. Sounds like a commuter bike to me, whether you’re towing Costco groceries, kids, or other bikes! These things are the all-in-one package, with more appendages, accessories, and equipment than the actual bike. I’m surprised there’s not a dog-walking leash attached or something.
And this post from Tokyo by Bike has a nifty table summing up the benefits of riding a Mamachoo-choo (I can’t get enough of these mash-up Japinglish words) over a good ol’ mountain bike for commuting and utility cycling:
|Unlocking||The frame mounted lock can be unlocked by simply pushing in the key.||A wire lock has to be untangled from around the wheel, frame and whatever the bike is locked to, potentially dirtying everything in the process.|
|Lights||They’re attached to the bike, difficult to steal and don’t require batteries.||Have to remember to bring them downstairs and attach them to the bike. Also have to remember to remove them when I arrive at the supermarket lest they get stolen, reattach them after I’ve finished shopping and remove them again once arriving home. Thats a lot of work.|
|Chainguard||Keeps everything nice and clean.||Have to remember to bring a velcro strap downstairs to keep clothing from rubbing on the chain.|
|Bell||Gets pedestrians out of your way.||Saying “Excuse me”, “Coming through”, “On your right”, or “Ding! Ding!” just doesn’t work|
|Mudguards||Dry bum||Wet bum|
|Parking||Pull in. Kick down the stand. Push a lever to lock the bike. Go shopping.||Look for something to lock the bike to, not always easy. Remove the wirelock from handlebars, lock the rear wheel and frame to a solid object. Careful, you might get dirty.|
|Child seat||I can take someone for company, or to push the supermarket trolley for me||No chance.|
|Basket||Holds any amount of groceries I’m likely to buy in one go.||Squash groceries into a backpack or hang them from the handlebars which not only interferes with the bikes balance, but is also frowned upon by the law. 5kg of rice? Impossible.|
And from the mama bicycle blog (written by a Japanese dad who likes his Mamachari bike and practicing his English) I delved further into the land of cheap, heavy-as-a-bloated-ox utility bikes, and found the Maruishi Cycles Frackers bike!
Anyway, I’d like to take a jaunt around my hood with a mamachari! The best part is, you don’t have to be a Mama to ride one either! Anyone seen these types of bike popping up in the USA at your local bike shops?