Introducing #StreetsR4Families – Raising Kids On Foot, Bike, and Transit

Joe's one-year-old daughter Maeve sitting on her mom's lap on the Amtrak Surfliner last weekend. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Joe’s one-year-old daughter Maeve sitting on her mom’s lap on the Amtrak Surfliner train last weekend. Note: This picture wasn’t staged, and Maeve was certainly not always this captivated by the passing scenery. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

With both Streetsblog L.A.’s editor, Damien, and head writer, Joe, raising young children, we’re especially interested in how families can raise kids while safely and comfortably navigating city streets. In Los Angeles, sometimes it can be difficult for individuals to get around by foot, bike, and transit. Doing this with a family in tow includes a new set of challenges and rewards.

When Damien and Sammy went on their first bike ride in January 2010, we knew of one other baby that was riding in a cargo bike in Greater L.A. While it's hardly mainstream, there are dozens of families using cargo bikes for kid-transportation today.
When Damien and Sammy went on their first bike ride in January 2010, we knew of one other baby that was riding in a cargo bike in Greater L.A. While it’s hardly mainstream, there are dozens of families using cargo bikes for kid-transportation today.

Every day, hundreds of thousands of Angeleno families get around on foot, bike, bus, or train. Anecdotally, we’re seeing more kid bike trailers and occasional kids in cargo bikes, too. We’d like to see these numbers increase. By sharing our stories, and by pressing for facilities that are planned and built with families in mind, we want to make sure that our cities are great safe, healthy, multi-modal places for everyone.

This coverage isn’t really new. Damien wrote about his son Sammy’s first ride on the Expo Line, and gave us family-centered previews for CicLAvia. National Streetsblog coverage has included articles on getting kids on bike-share, family-friendly Uber services, and even national pediatric organizational recommendations.

What’s new is how we’ll be branding family-oriented coverage.

We’ve created a new hashtag, #streetsr4families, so that it’s easier to find and follow this coverage.

Yes, we will be telling some of our personal stories, but we also plan to write about how livability policies, facilities, and priorities can make things better for all families. And we want to hear your stories, too, so we can all share our car-free or car-lite child raising experiences, successes, and setbacks. If you use the hashtag, it will be easier for us to find each other.

This coverage is still taking shape. We’re looking to write on various topics, like: helpful hints, products, policies, child safety, needs of low-income communities, safe routes to school programs, places for kids to learn to bike, transit-friendly kid-friendly destinations, children’s books, lessons from other localities, web resources, and more.

Use the comments below to let us know what you think. Do you want kid bike seat product reviews? Parent readers – are there experiences, websites, products, resources, etc. you would like to share? Others – are you tired of hearing about our kids, and just want to get back to wonky Metro budget pieces?

  • Sirinya Matute

    This is so exciting. I’m thrilled for you all.

  • MaxUtil

    SB seems to be at its best when discussing policy and the way policy interacts with real people/neighborhoods. Not sure I want to read product reviews. But there are certainly a lot of stories to be told about the intersection between local, state, and national policies and the ways children and families move around and live in, on, and around their streets.

    For instance, in all the discussion about N. Fig bike lanes, I’ve heard little to nothing about how these issues affect school kids and their families in the corridor.

  • I agree with MaxUtil. Here are two such intersection points:

    a. no sidewalk riding laws with adult+kid on one bike. I’ve been transporting my now 7 year old by cargo bike (Torker Cargo-T, with Yepp and now Bobike seats) since he was 2. For the most part, we stay on the road, except where conditions are particularly bad, such as in SM going west on Pico, crossing Lincoln, where there are some storm drain grates and bad pavement just where the road narrows. Another place is heading east on Ocean Park past Clover Park, where the lanes are narrow. We’ve been stopped in both areas by SM police, telling us that we’re not allowed on the sidewalk. However, if kids under 18 are allowed to ride on sidewalks, then probably kids being transported by bike should be as well, even if they’re not pedaling. The question is how to enact this exception without opening the door to all sorts of statistically improbably exceptions.

    b. no sidewalk riding law with adult+kid on two bikes. Now that he’s older, my son and I ride our own bikes for transportation whenever possible. However, esp. during rush hour, it’s too dangerous for him to ride on the streets, even where there are bike lanes (eg. Venice near Robertson). However, in the Culver City portion of that area, sidewalk riding is prohibited. I’d guess that he’s OK, being a minor, but I’m not. How’s that supposed to work? Again, an exception allowing adults accompanied by kids to ride on sidewalks should be in order.

  • Sirinya Matute

    Thank you for your feedback. I don’t necessarily think that the streets4families hashtag will open the door to LASB becoming solely about product reviews. However, I am intensely curious, even if I am just a DINK.

    But more importantly, I think that the blog needs to evolve with its audience. The audience is diversifying. There are hyperspecific blogs that talk about parenting in a car-free household. That discussion should not be solely limited to those microtopic blogs. I think that discussion should become part of the mainstream (or, at least, our main stream).

    As a board member for the nonprofit which publishes Streetsblog, I’ve brought up my curiosity about families who are car-free or car-lite — how are they making it work here in LA, when it seems like doing that is going against the grain? How do you do it without compromising mobility and accessibility to jobs, day care, and opportunities? My Asian immigrant mother’s solution, until she got a driver’s license when I was about 5, was basically to never leave (the apartment). Where we lived was gritty, dangerous, risky. It was full of unknowns for someone who didn’t have as much privilege as I do now (native English speaker, born and raised in the US, can navigate Metro like a champ, fearless urban cyclist.) It seems like these realities, even if they date to the 1980s, can be analyzed in the framework we use here to talk about livable streets and land use planning.

    I don’t hang out with anyone who talks about this; my social circle outside of the Streetsblog crowd has the privilege and money to own cars. And so they do.

  • I agree with you completely. There is a City Council election in Santa Monica this year and Santa Monica Next will have chances to talk to the candidates. We can surely work the first point into the discussion.

  • Naomi

    Delayed comment, but this article made me think of your family-friendly coverage: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2014/oct/03/the-reason-fewer-us-women-cycle-than-the-dutch-is-not-what-you-think-it-is

    Bike-commuter-when-possible/new-mom I am, appreciated the non-infrastructure data points around barriers to cycling!

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Family Bike Touring Along the California Coast

|
My wife Carrie, our three-year-old daughter Maeve, and I bike-toured the central California coast last week. We took an Amtrak train from Los Angeles to Salinas, then an Amtrak through-bus to Monterey. From Monterey we biked down the coast through Big Sur and to San Luis Obispo, where we caught the train back to Los Angeles. […]

Long Beach Beach Streets II Open Thread

|
There were plenty of great firsts taking place last Saturday at Long Beach’s second iteration of its excellent Beach Streets open streets festival. It was not Long Beach’s first ciclovía; that took place nearly a year ago, in June 2015. It was the first time the city of Long Beach has held an open streets […]

What the Latest Census Data Says About L.A. City Bicycle Commuting

|
Last week, Streetsblog L.A. ran a national Streetsblog Network story DC and New Orleans Closing the Bike Commute Gap with Portland which summarized this BikePortland story. Those stories examined recently released Census data to shows trends in bicycle commuting. Since 2008, about 6 percent of Portland commuters traveled primarily by bike. The Census shows that bike […]