Monday, January 31, 2011

In Good Company at the Celebrating Champions Parade

A short while ago, Little, Bigger, and I joined the big bike group riding in the Celebrating Champions Parade.  This parade was apparently inspired by the University of Oregon's recent football victories, but it also highlighted some of Eugene's other "champions".  Our particular group of was cobbled together from various local cycling organizations: Kidical Mass, GEARS, Eugene Safe Routes to School, some folks from Burley, and probably others that I was unaware of.

Image via Organic Haus
 on Flickr

At this point in my first winter cycling for transport with kids, I'm feeling a little tired of justifying my decision to get around this way.  My kids are happy to get on the bike, even in the cold or the rain.  But people occasionally take a moment to point out how unsafe they perceive bicycling to be.  Or how I could get to my destination fifteen minutes faster if I drove.  Or how it's wet outside, and aren't my kids going to catch a cold?  Me, I'm still enjoying toting my kids around on the bike.  It's always one of the most pleasant parts of my day, whether I encounter criticism or not.  Those negative voices, however, are fatiguing at best.  Some nights I come home from an otherwise great ride feeling drained from the experience of being criticized by strangers, or even worse, people I know and love.  Is it just me, or are there more critics of bicycling in the winter than in warmer months?

In any case, the good news is that there are plenty of other people out riding their bikes this winter, too.  I love bike events like this parade or Kidical Mass rides because it is so refreshing to be surrounded by pleasant people on bikes.  We rode along much of the route with my friend Heather and her son S.  Somehow, I didn't get any good shots of Heather on this ride.  She was there, lovely as ever, I promise!

Here are some of the other people we particularly enjoyed chatting with during and after the parade:

Image via shanerh on Flickr

This is easily my favorite photograph from that day.  Missy, supermom, feeding one of her three children under the age of two before the parade.  She and Shane (her partner and the coordinator of this event) have this incredible setup for getting their kids around town.  Their one-year-old daughter rides on a Bobike Mini front seat attached to their bakfiets.  One of their twin infant boys rides in a car seat in the bakfiets, and the other in the Burley trailer above.  On this ride, Missy was pulling the trailer behind her bike, but on our winter lights ride, Shane was pulling the trailer with the bakfiets.  That's three babies on one bike!

Image via shanerh on Flickr

The amazing Adkins family was there, too, doing their part to prove that you can enjoy getting around town on bicycles with lots of kids.  The Adkins are a car-free family of six, and they, too are very active in promoting and improving bicycling around here. Paul taught the bicycle commuting class I took this summer, so Bigger looks upon him with awe.  If your mom is a teacher, and then she takes a class from another teacher, then your teacher-mom's teacher must be a little better than human.

Plus, he can do this:

Here are three of the Adkins kids, plus their friend Addie (far left).  Next to Addie are (from left) Torrent, Dare, and Rainy. 

Image via Organic Haus on Flickr

And Monica, another supermom, with Sanguine seated behind her on the Xtracycle.  Mother of four kids, and a supremely charming and friendly person to boot.  She and Paul (her husband) have an impressive stable of kid-hauling bicycles, too.  (When I'm feeling a little worn down after a long day of running errands with the kids, I can always imagine what life would be like carrying four kids on my bike!)

To her left is Annette, whom I met for the first time at the parade.  It turns out that she is also a friend of my dear friend Dana, who brilliantly introduced me to the fella who is now my husband ten years ago.

Image via Organic Haus on Flickr

We enjoyed the entertainment provided by this guy, Mike Seager, who is an editor of WeBikeEugene.  And also, obviously, a clown.  The crowd loved his act.  And my kids have been approximating his performance with their own "juggling" all week long, which is the best kind of compliment.

I left the parade that day with fresh energy for my daily life on the bike.  It was wonderful to talk babies and schools and bikes with all the friendly folks we saw.  And of course, there is a certain electricity in the experience of riding down a street lined with a big, cheering crowd.  Perhaps what was most deeply comforting, though, was the knowledge that the people we rode with are doing something to make bicycling better in our town.  One of the things I love about Eugene is that lots of local activists are helping more folks like me start riding more often, or working to improve bike infrastructure, or coordinating our cycling advocacy groups' efforts with the work of other organizations.  And other people are doing their part by figuring out how to take more trips by bike.  For this I am grateful.

Many thanks to Paul and Shane for the use of their photos from the event!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Kidical Mass Classic Ride Tomorrow + HB 2228

My hands have been full this week as a tenacious fever made its way through our ranks, but I wanted to be sure to do my part to get the word out about two important news items.  I'm racing against the end of my sons' erratic sick-day nap here, so please forgive me if I've got some errors in this hastily written post.  Also, sorry, no photos in this post.

First, most folks out there have probably already heard about HB 2228, the bill recently proposed by Representative Mitch Greenlick that would prohibit carrying children under the age of 6 on bicycles or in bike trailers in the state of Oregon.  If you haven't, I'll refer you to the excellent coverage on  The latest information, as I understand it, is that Rep. Greenlick has reportedly consented to amend the bill to remove the prohibition against child passengers and instead request a study of child safety on bicycles. 

Our family still plans to write Rep. Greenlick (and our local Representative, find yours here) a civil letter about the legislation.  I hope you will, too.  I'll post mine here soon.  In the meantime, you may want to check out the letters from Katie of A Most Civilized Conveyance, Shane from Eugene SRTS, and Mia Birk of Alta Planning and Design.

And you should also join us tomorrow at 3:00 pm in Monroe Park for the Kidical Mass Classic Ride!  Okay, my jig is up: kids are awake, dinner needs attention, etc.  Hope to see lots of you tomorrow...provided no one here spikes a fever again.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mamafiets clan in LA

After a 28-hour journey on the Amtrak train, our family finally made it to Los Angeles last night!  I'm heading out again to meet up with our California relatives, but I thought I'd post just one or two photos before I go.

Bigger and Little love boats.  In the bay area, we got a good view of these two oil tankers from our seats.  You can just barely see one of the two tugboats that was anchored next to the tanker on the right.  In Bigger's view of the world, there are two primary types of oil: culinary and petroleum.  If it's not olive oil, it must be the stuff you put in a car.  

We spent about an hour talking quietly about the scenes outside our window.  I was surprised that the boys were so interested in the unfamiliar trees and the golden-green hills of California.  As for me, I would have really missed seeing the countryside and the cities we traveled through if we had flown.  Taking the train allows us to have enjoy a rolling, wide-open view of the landscape.  And no one has to drive or wear a seat belt.

The weather is around 63 degrees Fahrenheit here.  I saw a young woman on the street wearing a knee length down coat and a giant, fluffy scarf about an hour ago.  I've been muddling through the day somehow with bare arms -- poor me.

Okay, I'm off to meet some of my family out in this delicious sun!