Tiny Helmets, Big Bike
by Elle Bustamente, tinyhelmetsbigbikes.com
Our family has decided to drive less and bike more. With two wee ones (1- and 3-year-old boys), there are days that I don’t even want to get out of bed, much less leave the house. Surprisingly enough, adding a bicycle into the mix actually gets me out more often, puts a smile on my face, and gives me added energy throughout the day. I now look forward to errands and find excuses to go for a ride (what, we’re out of graham crackers again?). Hauling my boys around is second nature now and for them, putting on a helmet is as normal as buckling into their carseats. In fact, they haven’t been in a car for over a week.
Luckily for me, biking has always been a part of my life. I can’t remember a time I couldn’t ride. However, once I had kids it became harder to find time. We had a trailer for longer rides and the boys were quite happy, but for day-to-day errands it was harder to manage. Then I came across the minivan of bikes: the Yuba Mundo. We set up our new big rig with a seat up front for the little one and a seat in back for the big one. The extra-long cargo rack still has enough room for groceries and our mounds of gear. You have to find the best-fitting bike for your lifestyle; if it’s not comfortable you’re not going to use it. I have found the Mundo to be worth every penny and the savings rack up with every mile pedaled.
Now I want to help get other moms on their bikes. We are the protective mama-bears who will do anything to keep our children safe. We need to channel this passion into making our roads safer for children to ride. I am always surprised when people tell me how impressed they are with my efforts. I don’t feel I’m doing anything that amazing--a couple miles to the zoo, a couple more to the store, and maybe follow that up with a 30-mile loop at the end of the week just for fun (with an ice cream stop, of course). However, to those uninitiated in the joys of biking, I might have just as well said I sent my kids to Jupiter alone.
I am finding that some of the best ways to change families’ perspectives on riding are: Ride and describe--lead by example and show that it’s easier than it looks. Hold some hands--plan shorter trips around the park/bike trails to fun destinations, the more families are on their bikes, the more confidant they feel (confidant riders raise bike-friendly kids who will change the world). Arrange Kidical Mass rides--progressive bike-pools that pick up children to ride to school are a great way to create safety-in-numbers awareness. Show families that you don’t have to wear spandex and funny shoes to be a cyclist, and even those 2-mile trips to the park and back count.
Since I’ve started biking for transportation, I feel like a better mother. I am more excited about each day, and less rushed because the journey becomes as fun as the destination. I am healthier and happier and able to watch the world go by at a child’s pace. We still have days where it is difficult to get out of the house and even days where we can’t avoid taking the car. However, knowing that with each pedal stroke I am creating a better future for my children gives me that extra push.
Thanks for sharing your words of inspiration, Elle!