C.I.C.L.E. Wants You and Your Family to Ride Your Bikes

11_4_09_cm.jpgFamilies that Mass together, stay together. Shot of May 2008 Passadena Critical Mass

Sometimes when there’s breaking news, such as dissolving light rail contracts, verdicts from trials, public hearings on major transit or bicycle plans, it’s easy to lose sight that sometimes Livable Streets activism can be as simple as encouraging your children, or parents, to use their bikes, take transit or think of ways to move around without cars.

Cyclists Inciting Change through Live Exchange (C.I.C.L.E.) has been preaching this sort of personal advocacy for years.  Now they’re asking the question, "how can we encourage more families to ride together."  Earlier this week they announced the beginning of their "Families And Bikes" (F.A.B.) program that seeks to answer that question and put theory to reality.  The first step is to gather information and ideas from their supporters.  You can help by taking their survey or posting a comment on the article announcing the program.

C.I.C.L.E. lists a lot of great reasons that we should be encouraging families to take bike trips together, be they recreational, to the store, to run errand or to school.  From the announcement:

With epidemic obesity and Type 2 diabetes rates continuing to rise,
promoting city bicycling, as a family activity, can be a great way to
(literally) get entire families moving toward increased levels of
fitness and a greater quality of life. Unfortunately, many parents
living in the Los Angeles area are choosing not to bicycle with their
children on city streets, and many view bicycling as an impractical or
even an unpleasant transportation option for their families.

They go on to point out that this isn’t just an L.A. problem, and provide examples from around the world that show parents skittish about putting children on bikes in urban settings.

The good news is that there are some solutions already out there.  A recent Streetsblog.net article challenged parents to work with schools to make cycling a "cool" and practical way to get to school.  Locally, City Lites hosts a ride every spring that has, literally, thousands of South L.A. children bicycling from park to park.  Also, C.I.C.L.E. board member David Pulsipher, when he’s not working on the Bike Plan with Alta Planning or on the next C.I.C.L.E. event, writes Kids, Bikes, Dads, a great resource for families interested in getting the children on bikes at an early age.

Instead of leaving your suggestions for what else C.I.C.L.E. can be doing, leave those suggestions at their blog; let’s fill the comments section with what riding with your family meant to you as a child or as a parent.  I’ll go first.

  • When I was a kid growing up in rural Pennsylvania, we used to take several long bike rides a year to a park for Sunday morning breakfast. Armed with cereal, orange juice, doughnuts and coffee we would travel about ten miles to and another ten miles from the event.

    Fast forward to October of 2008. I hadn’t been on a bike ride with either of my parents in well over a decade but my Mom decided she wanted to ride the Tour De Ballona ride with the group. Since then we’ve done several rides together and I treasure all of them. It’s something we can do together that is both exercise and outdoor that was as valuable a workout now as it was when I was a id.

    People ask me what I like most about moving to L.A.. One of my top answers is always that I now have a mother who rides with cards in her spokes and who can tell her office the difference between Crank Mob and Critical Mass when the press goofs the story.

  • When I was a kid I used to ride my bike to school everyday, AND, when my parents got me a new bike for Christmas, I would ride it around the block for hours at a time after school. I remember my mother used to go jogging in the evenings, and I would keep her company on my bike, lapping her around the block.

  • dudeonabike

    Thanks for getting the word out this topic, Damien. I’ll just chime in here to say that we’d all benefit from more kids on bikes, and starting with fun group rides, like CICLE just put on, are great for that encouragement. I take my Long Haul Trucker to the H’wood Farmer’s Mkt with my son (on his own bike) ritualistically every Sunday. It’s a blast, and we get to chat and p/u good eats for the week. Riding on city streets on Sunday a.m. ain’t so bad either–sure, there’s cars about, but it’s a good opportunity to teach a child how to be an effective/safe urban cyclist–for when he’s old enough/ready to go out and do what we did as kids in the 70s bike boom era.

  • dudeonabike

    And I’ll put this out there: any Los Feliz, Silverlake, Echo Park, Hollywood parents interested in doing a bike caravan-type thing over to any farmers market on any weekend day, we’re game. We get enough people, we’ll be able to get the LACBC to do a bike valet for us. I think that’s what the Kidical Mass folks in the state to our north started up. (Heck, even if you’re not parents, feel free to join on in.) I’ll bring the tunes.

  • David Galvan

    I remember lots of family bike rides when I was a kid. My sister and my parents would ride (maybe a couple times a year) to a large park which was probably about 3 miles away (we lived in the East County of San Diego. I remember the ride was a bit unnerving on the way to the park, as we rode on streets without bike lanes. But once we got to the park there were tons of tracks and concrete paths and empty basketball courts to ride on and around. Lots of fun.

    In cub scouts, we would have “bike rodeos” where we had various skill-contests like riding in a straight line between two lines of aluminum cans (knock one over and you’re out!).

    Still all this was supporting the idea that, most of the time, a bicycle is a recreational tool, not a realistic conveyance. I’ve only really seen bicyling as an urban vehicle in the past few years, and it took some time for me to build up my confidence in “taking the lane” in an urban setting. I think, as suggested in an earlier post today, that more money needs to be put into bicycle infrastructure if we ever expect to see a significant movement toward biking as transportation in this city/county. The majority of the population is not going to go out of their way to ride their bikes for their commutes if the are intimidated by a lack of facilities (lanes, paths, racks, lockers, etc.) for cyclists.

  • dudeonabike

    We grew up a couple of miles from the beach, and I remember many summer weekends when my family all got on our bikes and rode to the coast. (It was mostly because my father refused to pay those exorbitant beach parking prices, which was like $5 at the time.) Me and my two brothers would wrap our towels around our necks, and hold our boogie boards with one hand (not a very safe cycling practice, especially when the winds pick up). We’d park where Montana ends at the bluffs on Ocean, lock our bikes, and take the steps down and the bridge over PCH. This quickly developed into our regular mode of transportation, and gave us kids an amazing sense of freedom. No longer were our summer days either house-bound or dependent on mom/dad to shlep us somewhere. Gained super-cool status when I got a funky bike rack to hold my surf board–but then the bike got stolen. That sucked.

  • I grew up tooling around the playground at the school across the street from my house, or through the neighborhood with my siblings. And as a kid, I rode my bike everywhere — except to school, of course — from baseball and music practice to my paper route.

    Even though my dad didn’t ride anymore, he still had the 1920’s 3-speed racing bike he used to ride as a kid hanging in the garage. I had every intention of grabbing that when he passed away, but the local museum beat me to it.

  • dudeonabike – that’s funny, man. I can do boogie boards no problem. What really gets the looks is when you rock the 9’6″ on a beach cruiser without one of those sissy racks on the side of the bike. I did that for years when I was growing up in Venice.

    On another note, I am going to give CICLE some money. They are a 501c3 and these folks deserve it for the work they are doing.

    The Spoke(n) Art Ride has turned into family bike night for me, and it is one of the happiest evenings I have all month – my mom, wife, baby, sister in law, brothers, nephew, and others tag along and make the whole night out on the town an entirely different affair. I love it, and I’m finally sharing a magic night with the people closest to me instead of holding all inside and dreaming that they’d get to see what I see some day.

  • dudeonabike

    @ubrayj02

    Big props to you and those dudes that go balls out and just carry your big guns like sidearms–and of course, faithfully on beach cruisers. I had a few miles to travel so that option, as much as I idolized those stringy haired surf rats when I was a kid and would have given a left nut to be like them, it just wouldn’t have worked out. But my rack was waaaay more ghetto than those fancy bike-side racks you see today. Mine was an odd metal-foam-webbing contraption that affixed to the rear axle and seat post and held the board off the back of the bike–it was positioned like a rocket launcher aimed at about 45 degrees over my head. The back of my Schwinn Le Tour II was so unstable and squirrely that any head wind sent me off laterally either into the San Vicente traffic or onto the curb. Good times!

    That’s a beautiful thing about the Spoke(n) Art Ride–and consider another family that will join you as soon as possible. We’ll be out of town for the next one, but consider it added as a recurring calendar item, and when the stars align next, I’ll be there with wife and kids in tow. Awesome. And the Dim Sum Ride, too.

    CICLE’s Families and Bikes rides will be swinging back into full planning mode soon enough, so be on the lookout. The kiddy cyclocross course we planned out in, oh 15 minutes, was a smashing success. I’m sure you woulda rocked it on your Bakfiet.

  • Cris (MomOnaBike)

    Although I didn’t grow up riding with my parents (I’m pretty sure neither of them learned ever learned to ride back in the home country), I love that our preschooler is following in her dad’s trail by being a little cycling enthusiast and advocate (with props to Liz and Shay at CICLE). When we’re headed out somewhere, she almost always asks, “Are we taking bikes? Or the train, the bus, or are we walking, or taking the car?”

    We had blast at CICLE’s Families & Bikes ride a couple of months ago, and I’m looking forward to partaking in a Spoke(n) Art Ride again soon. By the way, watch out for the new tough kids in town: the Naptime Ridazz.

  • I, unfortunately, never had the pleasure of regularly riding with my folks when I was young. But I do have this one tremendously fond memory of riding with my dad (on a borrowed bike) when I was about 4 years old. We cushioned the top tube of the bike with a folded towel, and I side-saddled it as we tooled about bike paths that bordered large, and seemingly endless, tomato fields. That was the first time I enjoyed the thrill of bicycling, and the burst of flavor from a fresh tomato picked right off the vine. We never duplicated that adventure, and I’ve never forgotten it.

    Bikes are like magic–for us, and especially for kids. The look of pure contentment on their faces as they are toured about the city in their child seat, trailer, bakfiet, etc. says it all. We have more FAB events coming soon, and we’d love to have more of you bike families involved. Definitely stay tuned to our ride calendar. And if you’d like to get involved, definitely send an email our way. info@cicle.org

  • what i love about FAB – is that it’s bringing the fun and sociality of “social rides” to an even wider audience. it was a gaping whole in the market – and CICLE filled it brilliantly.

    bravo.

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