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Biking to School: One pedal stroke at a time!

Fall is here! School has begun!!! The weather is cooling off and the mosquitoes are beginning to die off…and finally we can go outside again anytime of the day!

But many of us are busier than ever too. Busy with chores, work, life and ready for the election to be over for some sanity.


Some of us are lucky enough have an opportunity to commute by bike to work whereas others may not and reluctantly hop in the car or on the bus for the commute.

With all that is going on sometimes the last thing we think about is how we get to school but just actually getting the kid(s) to school. But the way we get the kid(s) to school can have a profound impact on their success at school, overall health, and outlook in life. As if we did not have enough pressure as parents, huh?

So, how do your kids get to school? By bus, car, bike or on their own two feet? Maybe you really want an opportunity to have them bike to school or walk. Maybe you feel they are attending a school that doesn’t have an option for alternate modes of transportation because it is too far or not enough time.

As parents we want dearly to share the love of biking and the outdoors. Time seems to limit us so often. Many of us are busy however with work and daily chores that it gets easy to feel overwhelmed at the thought of working to get to school by biking. But maybe just a first baby step would help make a world of difference.

First step, figure out how much time you can dedicate to the alternative commute. Maybe one day a week is all that can be managed given all of life’s constraints. That one day is enough to make a huge difference so take it!

Second step, figure out how much of the commute you believe you can make initially by bike. Do you think the kids could make a 15min ride or 10min or could they do a full 30min ride like champions of biking!?

Third, and probably most important, find a ‘safe route‘. This can be tricky. The safest route for less experienced bikers is a residential road with lower speed limits (25mph and under) or dedicated bike paths. Alternatively bike lanes with physical barriers.

In finding a safe route however not all communities have the bike friendly infrastructure desired. You know your neighborhood and environment best. A safe method to finding the right route is rather pragmatic. Find a local bike map or local bike advocacy group. From the available bike map you should be able to see lower speed roads (essential) and bike friendly roads. Also highlighted on a bike map are crosswalks enabled for pedestrians and cyclists. Some more advanced crosswalks maybe highlighted in these maps to give you an even safer crossing.

Kids on Wheels: Crosswalk Capture
Kids on Wheels: Crosswalk Capture

One very cool tool put together by the city of Brisbane helps put together a safe commute and maybe a useful tool to familiarize yourself with building your own route.

Once you have mapped out an opportunity to bike to school with the kids. DO ride this on the weekend first. Try a nice Saturday and Sunday morning when traffic is light and see how the kid(s) do. Is the distance too much? Do you need to choose a different street or maybe hook up to a bus route to finish the ride and if so, can bike go on the bus? Would it be better to drive 2miles closer, park and bike from a safe location? This is still a good choice as with time you will get stronger and more confident.

Once you have this ALL worked out and feel like the kids AND you are emotionally and physically ready to tackle it- give it a shot on a nice Friday morning or so- I promise although it is nerve racking initially it does get so, SO much easier. And ultimately EVERYONE has a better ‘ride’ to school!

Fourth step, figure out the needs of your equipment. Always have a helmet, lights and a flag and/or bell for the kids on whatever bike your choose. For a choice of bikes, many younger kids may prefer to use balance bikes or bikes with training wheels. This definitely limits the distance and increases safety concerns.

If your child(ren) is (are) ‘ok’ on these types of bikes but you have a fairly long way to travel, consider a trail along bike. You can also buy a tandem trailer bike for multiple kids needing some assistance.

These are amazing at getting your little one used to biking the distance without solely relying on their ability. Have a little one to tag along that can’t quite reach the pedals- NO Problem! Haul your trailer behind the tag along bike OR consider having a friend join to help with pulling the trailer.

Our Ride to School!
Our Ride to School!

We bike 3 miles to and from school daily and my daughter recently got her trail along bike and she loves it! She actually looks forward to going to school and the pedaling definitely works her legs- she sleeps much better at night for it too!

So you have the tools and the knowledge – get out and ride. Whether it is one day, two days, one morning or all week back and forth just starting is the key to laying the foundation for future success. You can do it and you have help I promise!

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Top Commuter Bike Resources and Reviews

Bike commuting is all over the news and maybe your work place has signed on for the commuter tax benefits.. We want to help you get on that bike and out using this amazing piece of transportation.. The more cyclist that are out on the road, the more we will be taken seriously and moving the movement from cars to bicycles.

The Most Recent Bike Reviews

Batavus BUB – Dutch and easy to ride $$

SE Lager – Basic and simple way to get into commuter $

Civia Loring – Stylish and functional $$$$

Cargo Bikes Can Haul

Replace your SUV with a SUB (sports utility bicycle) such as an Xtracycle style bike.

We’ve taught you how to build your Xtracycle from scratch

Reviewed the Surly Big Dummy bicycle built around the Xtracycle platform

A. In-dept. Look. at Various Heavy Duty Utility Bikes

How to Carry Things

Messenger Bags – Examples . Knog Franks Dog, and Crumpler Part & Parcel

Backpacks – Examples : Banjo Brothers, and Seal Line

Panniers -Examples : Basil Bags and Deuter Rack Pack

Carrying your Laptop : 101

Top Ten Commuting 101 Articles

  1. A Guide to a Simple Bike Commute
  2. The Slacker’s Guide to Bike Commuting
  3. How to React to Aggressive or Angry Drivers
  4. How to Find the Perfect Route Using Google Maps
  5. Top 5 Reasons to Claim the Lane (and why it’s safer)
  6. Top Five Tips for Staying Safe in the Heat
  7. How to get Cleaned up at Work
  8. Learn Your Local “Village”
  9. Learn Your Bicycle’s Anatomy
  10. Essential Tips for New Riders
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Why I Go By Bike : Doug Rozelman

Introducing a new guest writer, Doug Rozelman.  Doug is a co-worker of mine and an avid cyclist.  Slowly he is trying to learn to use his bike for daily task, and to live the cycling lifestyle.

Doug Rozelman

Not long ago, I picked up a small, square-shaped brochure highlighting Trek’s “1 World, 2 Wheels” campaign. I nonchalantly flipped through the pages to explore its content. Before I could restock the coffee table display, I found myself in a combined state of astonishment, disappointment, and urgency. Pages 1 and 3, respectively, read as follows: “The solution to some of the world’s biggest problems is in your garage” and “For 2 miles or less, go by bike.” Never before have two simple statements had such an impact on me.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Doug, and my career for the past four years has been within the cycling industry. I currently work in a bicycle store in Charlotte, NC. Additionally, I have had the privilege to acquaint myself with Bike Shop Girl and ride alongside her since July.  She certainly has inspired me. According to Google Maps, I live 1.3 miles from my place of employment. Across the street, literally 1.7 miles from home, are two shopping centers equipped with grocery stores, restaurants and fast food establishments, apparel and sporting goods stores, and even a choice of barbers and salons. Excluding the occasional trips to visit family or occasionally work in an affiliate store, the majority of places I shop and spend my time are typically within this two-mile radius. As a result, I have experienced an epiphany; I plan to develop my passion for racing and recreational riding into something more, a lifestyle.

Along the way, I hope to accomplish a few other goals: (1) to embrace fully the cycling and commuting culture (2) to admit shamelessly and describe my shortcomings as a “rookie” commuter (3 ) to eliminate any excuse I have (or potentially determine) for not traveling by bike (4) to experiment with and review various cycling and commuter-targeted products and (5) to inform, enlighten, and/or entertain those fellow individuals choosing to follow my lead.

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Black Friday Deals : Madsen Cycles

While the Thanksgiving holiday is looming, I wanted to share with you any/all Black Friday deals I find on commuting gear. Here is numero uno, from Madsen Cycles. The pretty cool utility bike, with the “bucket” for hauling children, Christmas trees and all your in between.

Madsen Creme Bucket
Madsen Creme Bucket

From Madsen Cycles :

Black Friday is upon us in just a few days, and not to be outdone during this season of madness, we’ll be offering the cream bike (bucket or rack) at a deep discount of $400 off, for one day only.
And it doesn’t even require you to get up at 2:00am and be trampled by a bunch of crazies
We’ll also be selling the cream bike with the Dutch Upgrade for $200 off.

We’ve never offered a price that low, and likely won’t again, but we hope those of you who were hoping to get one in time for Christmas can jump on the deal and save some money.

Remember, bikes come fully assembled right to your front door. You just open the box, pull it out, cut a few straps and ride off on your shiny new cargo bike.

Join the movement!

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The Perfect Commuter : Bike Type

If you are just stopping in on our Group Build of the perfect commuter bike let’s catch you up. We had an introduction post, a follow up about what type of person will be riding this bike it is now time to move on to what type or style of bike we will be going with.

Remember that we can adapt each type of bike to go one way or another with the style, but what would be the easiest and most affordable to start off with.


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The U.S is Not Europe, Can it Ever Be?

This is a complimentary article to “They Say We Need More Women Bicycle Commuters” at
Bike Lane to Work

Over the past week I have had many conversations about the European lifestyle and why the U.S is so anti-bicycles and pro-automobile.  As a country, and in the cycling industry, we are doing better.  We have learned that bicycles are going to help the world, ourselves and our children but what we haven’t learned is how to get there.

I would love to think within my life time my children would have a safe way to get to their school 7 miles away and I wouldn’t be such the odd-ball by commuting to work daily.  Unfortunately the part of the country I live in isn’t as bicycle friendly as Portland, Oregon or others listed on the top bicycle friendly cities.

Here are some of the key reasons I feel that the infrastructure and culture are needed to change first :

  • Starting top down we need to embrace cycling as a viable means of transportation.  This means government and large corporations.
  • From bottom up we need to encourage our children and youth to utilize cycling like we did 30 years ago.  Safe Routes to School is a great example of this.
  • The government and city planning needs to create a better footprint for urban planning that is not revolved around an automobile.
  • Urban sprawl must slow down so that towns and cities can catch up.
  • All the large developments being built 25 minutes from the heart of the city are great, until those miles aren’t approachable by bicycle or public transportation like the subway.
  • Bicycle shops, schools and law enforcement to promote, encourage and participate in bike commuting or utilizing your bike often.

The U.S is taking big strides every year towards becoming a friendlier bicycle country and I hope that there are big waves to be made in the coming years. My biggest piece of encouragement is for you, the readers, to help with any of the above mentioned issues.  Commute By Bike as often as you can, help co-workers or your children learn how going by bike does not have to be difficult and is very rewarding.

Food for thought links :
KUOW : Bicycle Commuting Rising, but Still Pales Compared to Europe
Scientific American : How to Get More Bicyclist on the Road
Forbes – North America’s Most Bike-Friendly Cities