Sunday, 9 September 2012

A Love of Bikes

I am publicly stating my goal to use my bike more in the 2012-2013 school year.

I love my bike and few things me happier than riding around my community at my leisure on my bike. Part of the reason why I enjoy bike riding so much is it gets me outside and seeing everything I would miss in my car.

At Garry Point in Steveston

When I was in university in my mid-twenties I rode my bike to school on a daily basis all year long. I would purposely take the long route along stunning Vancouver beaches. It was better than a cup of coffee to breathe in the fresh air and see the ocean. I didn't care if it was cold or raining. In fact, I preferred the poor weather days because it meant I had the road along my route to myself. 

Locarno Beach, Vancouver, B.C.

Of course life stepped in as I "grew up", with a full-time job that required driving around to various locations in a given week, so my husband and I shared a car and used public transit. This worked well, and I still rode my bike, or walked, as much as I could. Then our jobs took us to different locations, so we added a car. 

Our latest second car, a Dodge Caravan. I wish there was 
the option of a hybrid or electric mini-van on the market. 

Sure we could have made the commitment to stay a one car family, but honestly living in the suburbs with a spouse who worked in another suburb makes transit extremely difficult. Some will disagree with me but I feel that the public transit in my area (Metro Vancouver) is geared toward moving people to the downtown core, not between suburban areas. 

Then children started coming into the picture, which really does change everything. I know that many families can't afford the luxury of a car and survive quite nicely taking public transit, and I am privileged having access to even one vehicle. But wow is it so much easier to have a vehicle when you have kids. Yes, I chose convenience over the environment, but as a family of five with three young children, we have chosen wisely for my current happiness. Whenever I have taken a transit trip alone with my children it has been a gong show: crying, fighting, hunger, needing a bathroom or diaper change, carrying bags, a stroller, etc. We become the entertainment for the other passengers. 

However, we have tried to make more ethical choices, such as having one hybrid car and using that one as much as possible. We also made the choice to live closer to where we work which brought us back to the suburb in which we were raised. We bought a home in Steveston village, an area of Richmond that we love because we can walk or ride our bike for shopping and activities. There have a been sacrifices because of the high cost of homes in our area (I must continue to work at least half time).

I still love bike riding and have continued to go on local bike rides with my children. It has become easier as each child grows up and learns how to ride her own bike. At first it was one, then two kids sharing a bike trailer, which isn't without it's own challenges, I assure you. Three kids seems to change everything in our two-child family dominated world. Because I have summers off with my children and go on adventures without my husband, my ability (and desire) to go places by bike has waxed and waned depending on my children's age (and my energy level). For example, it is impossible to travel by bike with an infant for safety reasons. And gosh cars are just so convenient, aren't they?

A play pit stop on one of our family bike trips.

My children have reached an age where I am able to get back on my bike more regularly and we can enjoy ourselves on biking adventures. My oldest two kids ride their bikes (middle child just learned how to ride a two-wheeler this summer) so we are trying to use our bikes to get to shops and activities in our community instead of using the car, and we ride our bikes to school (or walk). We also enjoy weekend trips with my husband.

At Pedalheads Bike Camp this summer. I highly recommend 
their camps for not only learning to ride a two-wheeler 
but also for learning road rules and safety when children are older.

But I want to challenge myself to ride my bike to work on my short days on alternating Fridays, and drop off my youngest at preschool (further afield) once a week. I am being modest with this goal because I know it will be a real challenge. It is going to be a big change in my routine and I am going to go easy on myself if I have a bad day or have too much going on and opt for the car instead. I hope that stating my goal here will keep me a little more accountable, but big changes require more time to stick.
My youngest in our bike trailer.

A positive spin-off to this goal is that it may help me simplify my life and help me remember to breathe, even a tiny bit. It is easy to do so many quick errands with a car, and although it helps cross things off my to-do list, it also makes me feel rushed and agitated (try pushing three kids in and out and in and out of a car - not fun). Maybe I can save them for when I don't have my kids with me, or fit them in on my bike, or skip them altogether!?! 

Bike sculpture in front of Steveston Village Bikes 

A bike ride is like a therapy session for me and that may be my biggest motivator. Wish me luck.

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