My role, along with my fellow Hintonburg Cycling Champions (@Hburgbikechamps), is to organize the Family Friendly Bike Parade. This is a lot of fun but a logistical challenge. The street we parade on isn't closed to traffic and there are a ton of little kids who join in. For the kids, riding on the road is a huge thrill. Being part of a bike parade that takes a lane is monumental when you're three and scooting along on your very own bike.
We often have special guests lead the parade. Sometimes we invite politicians or champion fundraisers to lead us off. My job is usually to hang back and help marshal the parade by riding to the left of the kids, blocking intersections when necessary, encouraging little riders and having a free spot on the back of my longtail in case anyone tires. Thanks to lots of parents and other adult cyclists helping marshal, we can safely include young riders. Family friendly bike parades are definitely team events.
This year I got to experience the joy of leading the parade. Half way through the parade, while we were waiting at a stop sign for the rest of the parade and the littlest riders to catch up, I turned around to let the kids up at the front know that in a moment we would be turning left onto our main street and we needed to focus.
It was a moment of pure magic. I turned around and found I was looking at thirty kids-aged six to ten-lined up on the street four or five across, totally confident and capable. Together they were taking the lane on their very own bikes. Every single kid was wearing a great big grin, totally focused on riding and totally ready to go.
Were they ready to turn left onto the mainstreet and join the street party? You bet!
Advocating for more and better bike lanes, bike education in school and safe routes to school is definitely important bike advocacy work. But I also recommend taking a moment to bask in the magic of young cyclists who are ready to ride thanks to all the time they've spent biking with their families. And there's nothing quite like a bike parade to offer you that kind of inspiration!
P.S. Special thanks to Dennis Van Staalduinen (@DenVan) for the fab photos of the bike parade.