We’re having a great, virtually car-free summer. After a horrendous spring, with snow and cold rain way too far into June, the weather in Seattle has improved to a near perfect 70° and sunny on a daily basis.
Tim’s working his ass off for the the man this summer, but other than morning swim lessons, the kids and I have no set daily plans. From lunchtime on, we’re free to pursue classic summer activities: park visiting, swimming, gardening, reading in the hammock, beach combing, library visits, insect studying, berry picking, lake wading, and just about anything else that involves transport by bike.
I’m surprised at how agreeable the kids have been about riding, especially considering how their two year age difference means they typically have to compete about everything.
It was touch and go at first. The first few weeks of the summer, the idea of wheeled freedom combined with their prodigious individual stubbornness created a perfect storm for trying my patience. One kid would want to go one way so, naturally, their sibling had to go the other. More than once we experienced a standoff in the middle of the street until we could agree on a common destination and route.
Luckily those days seem to be behind us (I was really cranky during that period). We’ve settled into a nice groove where they decide who’s day it is to be first and choose the route. I don’t normally get a day but try not to complain about it ; – )
Since Bike to School Month the kids have wanted to ride on their own the majority of the time. Unless we’re going far (say more than 3 miles or so) they ride their own bikes. They ride on the Xtracycle on occasion—if they are tired, cranky or just want to sit back there and eat snacks while reading a book; most of the time they pedal.
The seven-year-old is a month into riding a geared bike that has made hill-climbing fun. Nearly all the neighborhood grades can now be conquered with room to spare (“I made it all the way up to the library and I was only in 2nd!”). Since the five-year-old wants to be just like his sister, he has turned his riding up a notch too. I’m amazed at the hills he can tackle on his little 16″ bmx bike. He’s only been riding since the spring, but that kid is determined.
In the neighborhood, we ride on the road but stick to the sidewalk on busy streets. The combination is working well and should help their transition to full-time street riding without too much shock. Of course, they are used to being in traffic from all their Xtracycle seat time, but seem to relish the responsibility of safely navigating the streets under their own power.
My riding has improved, too! After watching Tim ride while pushing the kids up a hill, I finally figured it out. I’m happy to report that I can get the little guy up a steep hill without steering him into parked cars or bushes (too often). Yay! It’s amazing how not being forced to walk up hills has increased our range. Hopefully by the fall he’ll graduate to the six speeder his sister is now riding (we got it in a manly color scheme), and I can take a break from the pushing and just ride.
For more kid-friendly riding tips and info, check The Streets Wiki article, Urban Cycling with Children.