Bikes and The City in collaboration with BikeNOPA, brings you the weekly series: Dads on Wheels. Every Tuesday, we will be featuring dads from all over the city, and the ways they get around town with their kids.
Please check both our blogs for the current profiles.
Let us know your thoughts and leave comments for the featured riders!
After School Daughter Father Panda by richardmasoner
Dads on Wheels: Richard
How old are your kids and why do you bike with them? When did you start them biking?
Ivy is a pre-teen, my son Ian is a teen now. They’ve been riding in bike trailers since they were toddlers.
How often do you bike with your kinds now ….and do you bike with them for fun or also for taking them on errands, getting them to school?
Ian gets around town on bike by himself with no problems and knows how to use the bus as well, though to be honest he really prefers getting a ride in a car. I even had to ask a friend’s mom not to give my son a ride every time he asked!
Ivy and I go to the local farmers’ market, dog park, and shops by bike, and Ivy came along at a recent San Jose Bike Party.
As a family, we’ve gone camping by bike, biked across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, and spent a weekend Sacramento via Amtrak, where we biked up and down the American River and around the downtown.
What makes a route or street OK for taking your kids biking on it?
I’m an assertive cyclist, but children don’t have the experience they need to bike in heavy traffic. They don’t anticipate the ebb and flow of the road. Many children, for example, will stop when they see a large vehicle approaching in a cross street, even when they have the right of way. When cycling through dynamic traffic, I stay behind my daughter and give her instruction on where to go, when to merge and so forth. I also act as a sort of human safety flag, staying visible and running interference for her.
I’m not ready to take my daughter cycling on (for example) SF Market Street, even with all of the bike facilities, where someplace like the Embarcadero works very nicely. I wasn’t much older than she is now, though, when my friends and I were biking in impossibly heavy urban traffic that would have concerned my parents if they knew about it.
The perfect route or street for biking is maybe the dead end cul de sac in the suburbs, but that kind of development is precisely what gets us in trouble with long commutes and dangerous driving!
Is it even harder getting kids ready for trips if you’re traveling by bike?
I open up the garage, grab the bikes, we hop on and go. Every once in a while I need to ensure bike light batteries are charged up and the tires are pumped, but these maintenance issues are no more onerous than checking the oil in a car.
How often do you bike on your own: recreation/exercise or for transportation also?
Any advice for other dads who are thinking about biking on their own or with their kids?
Don’t start out with a 40 mile extreme adventure — they’ll hate you and cycling forever. Instead, start small with a ride to the corner store and make the experience fun and worthwhile. Give a small reward after the ride. Don’t sweat the time — we break frequently for ice cream, snacks, drinks, banana slugs and other fun stuff.
If riding in cooler or wet weather, make sure the kids are dressed appropriately — smaller children lose heat more quickly than adults do, especially if they’re towed on a trailer. You might be sweating at 60 degrees while they’re shivering from hypothermia.