Coming up on Saturday, December 8th, Santa Monica is hosting a Family Bike Fest, through a collaboration of the city, local schools, and the Safe Routes To School program. Just as the preparation events held in conjunction with the Bike It! Walk It! Days, the festival will have an educational component with youth bike skills courses and information. With food and other activities planned, it should be a pretty good time for people of all ages.
A few other items on the list for the event that caught my attention was a bike swap and booth for helping organize “walking buses ” and “bike trains ”. These “buses and trains” help coordinate group school trips together, often with a parent leading. Walk buses and bike trains are becoming a popular way to leverage some safety in numbers effect even when the total numbers may still be relatively modest.
A common dilemma of parents with bicycling kids is how quickly a bike frame becomes too small. The bike swap will help put parents together for swapping bikes, or accepting bikes to move to a new home.
In my post last week  discussing milestones and strategies for growing bicycling in Santa Monica, I talked a lot about the need to broaden our framing. Critics try to narrow the frame of the bicycling movement, citing current numbers of commuting cyclists. Instead, cyclists should emphasize interested but concerned demographics that would bike more if conditions improved. Perhaps one of the most important milestones is willingness for families to ride, and have kids along with.
I still recall the importance of getting families bicycling and involved being emphasized by Elly Blue in a breakout session of the LA Bike Summit in 2009, an event which played a large part in inspiring my own growing involvement in bike advocacy. Seeing families biking around with kids on cargo bikes for school or errands is an area where Portland really seems to be hitting a stride. I see it every so often here, but we are no match of the land of Emily Finch  and friends  just yet.
Improving the infrastructure and environment for bicycling will be critical to making bicycling viable for more families outside of our limited off street recreational opportunities, but fostering and supporting the social frame work is important too. The more we can get families and concerned parents to urge better conditions for the cycling the better. I highly encourage everyone to loop in folks that may be interested and make this an awesome event.
The organizers are still looking for volunteers to help out on the day of the event. If you’d like to join the team, there are various positions for different time blocks needed to fit different time constraints, and this page has been setup  to sign up. ARTCRANK LA  will be happening later in the evening on December 8th as well, with proceeds from drinks supporting LA Streetsblog. So if you wanted to make it an all day bikey day, come out and support both.
Full details from the Family Bike Fest release:
The City of Santa Monica is organizing a Family Bike Fest on Saturday, December 8 from 10 am to 2 pm. Santa Monica families are invited to attend this free event and enjoy fun and educational activities, including:
- Youth Bike Skills Course
- Bike Swap and Donation Station
- Bike Check-Up Station
- Tasty Food from Local Vendors
- Family Bicycle Test Rides
- Helmet and Bike Decoration Station
- Bicycle Safety and Route Planning Information
- Walking School Bus/Bike Train Booth
- …and much more!
Location: Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main St.
Time: Drop in any time from 10 am to 2 pm.
Cost: Free to the public
Parking: Free valet bike parking, or on-site garage parking (cost: $1/hour)
Partners: City of Santa Monica, Santa Monica Bike Center/Sustainable Streets, SMMUSD PTA Council, C.I.C.L.E., Santa Monica SPOKE, Active Santa Monica, Santa Monica Community and Cultural Services