Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Family on Bikes: Shannon, Jonathan, and Cara

When I first considered how I might be able to get rid of a car, Shannon, Jon, and Cara were the only family I knew who were actually living car-free.  This gracious, warm, and beautiful family was an inspiration to me.  I hope that you enjoy getting to know them, too.

Are you a family that enjoys riding bikes?  I'd love to profile you here!  You need not be car-free, car-lite, or even living in the Eugene area.  I'm just interested in sharing the stories of families that ride bikes together.  Please email me at mamafiets at gmail dot com if you would be willing to be interviewed for this series.  Thank you!

Jonathan with Cara at age 4

Who are you? Introduce yourselves, please.

I am Shannon Boyd, mother to Cara (6) and one on the way, and wife to Jonathan.  I am a stay at home mama, 32 years old, and crave forest adventures.  Jon is a guitar and Spanish teacher at the Village School and Ridgeline Montessori, and Cara is a kindergartener at the Village School.  We are currently a mostly walking family.  We acquired a car over the summer, which is our first car in 5 years.  For the last five years of Cara’s life, we were solely a biking family.  We all love to ride!

What is your family bike setup? How is it working for you? How has it changed as
your child has grown?

At first we had a TREK bike cart that could hook up to either bike.  We rode like that for 2 years.   When Cara was 3, she started on the Like-A-Bike for shorter rides.  Boy, could she go fast!!  For town rides we continued with the bike cart.  When Cara was 4 ½ years old, we introduced the tag-along, but continued to use the bike cart, especially in rainy weather.  When Cara was 5, she mastered the 2 wheeler, so from then on, we had her riding on her own, even in the rain.  Currently, we all ride our own bikes.

Cara, age 4, with her family's park and grocery trip setup.
Check out the kids' bike in the cargo area of the trailer!
As far as how it has worked, it has HAD to work.  We had no other choice.  We got a lot of raised eyebrows having Cara in the bike cart at 1 year, but, when you have no other way to get around, what can you do?  Also, it was a choice we made.  To not support a car culture, to be healthy and fit.  But our set-up has always worked.  From grocery shopping (I could fit 5 bags of groceries and my daughter in the bike cart), to work/school obligations, or just for fun, the bike cart was our vehicle.  When the next baby comes, we’ll see how the set-up changes.

Why do you choose to ride bikes together?

As I mentioned above, we chose to not partake in the car culture, for gas, war and money reasons.  Also, we live in a place where everything we need is close together.  If ever we wanted to go out of town, we borrowed a car.  So aside from those reasons, we also chose to ride to teach our daughter how healthy and safe bike riding can be.  We are modeling for our children, and community, that we all don’t have to drive everywhere.  That you don’t need a big van when you have kids and need to go grocery shopping- though it is easier.  But is easiest the best way to go?

We also just have fun riding together.  Learning the roads, the rules, and how to ride is just so much fun.  It is a great family bonding experience.

Cara, at age 4, on her Like-a-Bike

What kinds of trips do you commonly make by bike? Are there other modes of
transport your family frequently uses?

Previously, we did everything by bike. Groceries, appointments, work, school, play dates, etc. -- everything.  Currently, due to tight working schedules and school schedules, we cannot bike to school,so our bike trips include library, small grocery runs, play dates, appointments, etc.  If not driving to school or work, we mostly walk.  Our neighborhood is pretty central, so we have been walking more often.

Would you share a great moment in your family biking experience with us?

All of our experiences have been great, it’s hard to choose just one...Some memories that come to mind are sweet summer rides to get some ice cream, or just to cool off.  Last summer we did a lot of summer riding because Cara could ride on her own and we were teaching her the rules of the road and such.  So, that summer, we had some extremely sweet rides...just special family moments – laughing, singing, riding fast, riding slow...good stuff!

Plenty of laughs are coming to mind when I think of the past 4 winters we rode in the rain. Lots of wet faces, wet clothes, and all we could do was laugh it off, and warm up with yummy steamers at some local café. J

Do you have any tips or tricks to pass on to other bike-riding families?

Start your children young, so they are used to the bike cart, Xtracyle, or whatever set up you have.  The more familiar they are, the more safe feeling and fun.  Also, do not get intimidated by the on!!

Are there any changes (to path or wayfinding systems, auto speed limits, bike
boulevards, lighting, etc.) that you would you like to see to make bicycling more
convenient, accessible, and safe for families in your area?

I think there could always be improvements made in the biking realm – more paths, better lighting, all of it.  I think Jefferson and Willamette St. need to have better biking options...especially for families.  It’s hard to maneuver a bike cart with child and groceries up those hills!!!

Cara, what is your favorite thing about riding a bike?
It doesn’t give pollution.  [Shannon says: I’m one proud mama right now!!]

Cara, where is your favorite place to ride your bike to?
The river park or the cheese park.

Cara, age 5, on her big-girl pedal bike

Thank you, Cara, Jon, and Shannon!


  1. I love these glimpses into family bike lives! I also happen to love these particular families...

  2. I know, it's fun to see how each family does it, right? I love the picture of Cara with their tagalong/trailer bike train!

    I have this fantasy about starting some kind of micro-lending or grant program for families interested in cargo bikes. I think that Shannon's family is a prime candidate. Can't you just picture her carting around our wholesalers' club orders in a bakfiets?