Monday, December 10, 2012

Everyday Bicycling; How to ride a bike for transportation

I've not only been glued to this book for the past week, but I've  been wholeheartedly inspired by it! When Elly Blue, author of "Everyday Bicycling; How to ride a bike for transportation (whatever your lifestyle)," sent this book to be reviewed here on my blog, I figured I would try my hardest to skim through it, and give it a fair review, even though it's been years since I've rode a bike. After all, it's my husband Micah who is the avid bike rider in the family. He's always been the one to make the extra effort to brave the rain and snow to ride his bike to work, to enjoy long, recreational  rides on the weekends, and to equip the kids with all the gear they need to learn to love bicycling along with him. I've been standing here on the sidelines, nursing and wearing babies (claiming  running and  surfing as my exercise of choice), waiting for some future moment when I felt like owning a bike again. I didn't feel adequate in giving this book a proper review, given my current circumstances.

However, this book was written for people like me! After reading this book, I not only dream to get back on a bike again, but I want to contribute to making it part of our family culture. I want to ride along with my husband and kids again, and feel the exhilaration and freedom that I used to! 
(*There's an addendum to these thoughts at the bottom of this post.)

Micah taking the kids for a spin, Utah 2010

Zadok on the "Wee Ride" Tag-a-long, 2010.
I thoroughly enjoyed all the chapters, but I especially loved the chapter about Family Bicycling because that's where I gathered the most inspiration. If you've ever wondered how a family with children can get around without a car, she explains in detail, all the different   options out there. This chapter is chock full of testimonials from families that use bikes and bike accessories in their everyday transportation. Take Emily Finch, for instance, the mom from the article,"With six kids and no car, this mom does it all by bike."  Emily has found a way to go completely car-less, pedaling her small children around in something called a bakfiets, while the older ones ride alongside her. She is quoted as saying, "Biking is easy. Having kids is hard!" Amen, sister. Amen. She is my bicycling role model!

In my opinion, this book was also written for anyone in need of a practical, easy, and informative introduction to bicycling. In the beginning chapters, the author starts off with the basics of bicycling safety, road rules and hazards, and the specifics of clothing and gear. In the following chapters she covers everything from how to ride a bike, how to choose the right bike for you, how to care for your bike, and how to carry anything on your bike! In essence, her message is that anyone can fit bicycling into their lifestyle, and there's no wrong way to go about doing it! From the lawyer at the office job, to the college student, to the elderly, the handicapped, or the family with children, bicycling can become a part of your everyday lifestyle. And not only can it fit into your lifestyle, but it can become a positive part of how you live your overall life.

 Thank you Elly Blue, for an exciting and  fresh perspective on something as simple as riding a bike. This small book has made a powerful impact in my life, in such a short time. I felt like, while reading this book, I was also chatting with an old friend; someone who's passion for bicycling rubbed off on me in all the right ways. I would highly recommend this book as a gift for anyone who wants to get back into bicycling again, or anyone who just loves bikes, period.

** Unfortunately  our current  residence of Hilo is not a bike-friendly city. In Elly's book she refers to some places that are just plane disappointing and dangerous to ride.  I believe that Hilo is one of those places. It lacks both the infrastructure and friendly bike-riding culture that makes bike-riding safe and enjoyable for most people, especially families. Rarely do we see a family out bike-riding together on a sunny afternoon, which is sad, but I don't blame em. The streets are narrow, the bike lanes are few, and there isn't any bike path in or around town. There aren't very many sidewalks to ride on, either. One of the things that Micah has been missing here, is a good place to ride bikes with the kids. Elly's advice on living in a bike-friendly community is to either "become a champion of change, or move to a different city." I don't see the infrastructure of Hilo changing anytime soon, but us moving to become a more bike-friendly family? You never know. 


Unknown said...

Very well written regardless of my being your mother. I should've read the book during my recent visit but either way, now I want to AND take up bike riding again which I have done much of in the past but thought I might be all done with. I bet it addresses people like that too.

Unknown said...

Elly Blue just sent me a link to your blog! Everyday Bicycling is the shizz, isn't it? I'm never surprised to read good reviews, but this one is my favorite so far! I wish I could help you with how to take up bicycling in a dangerous city. Hugs. I really have no answer. I chose to move, but I understand that that is not an option for many families. Then again, I am most inspired by families who choose to stay put and BE the change. And honestly, I thought I was escaping to Portland for the infrastructure, which is awesome. What I realized, after being here for 2 years, is that it is the COMMUNITY that is most important. I have had more bad experiences with cars in Portland than I ever did in Pennsylvania (because I ride way more here)... I turn to my biking friends for support instead of worrying that I am a bad person for biking with my kids. So if you want to stay and to bike it would be really, really awesome if you could find some like-minded folks and start your own culture, Hilo-style. Go on rides together, not cycling sporty type rides but rides with parents and kids. Sometimes there are no like-minded people. Which brings me back to my original statement: Hugs. Just big fat hugs. And if you are looking for some companionship and community online you can find me on twitter (@1lessgmsuburban) and I will introduce you to a ton of biking families all over the US there. On Facebook I am Emily Finch, and am in several FB groups for cargo biking/family biking: Transportland, Revolutions per minute, Cargo bikes in the US, where again, a ton of biking families hang out and talk all things bike. Welcome to the gang, from someone who's been biking for 4 years and still knows NOTHING about bikes!
Fondly, Emily Finch

Biking Yogini said...

Hilo is too beautiful to leave! I vote for making it more bike friendly so I can enjoy it on 2 wheels when I visit again.

kyouell said...

Adding to Emily's comment: there's a mom in West Virginia that has poor infrastructure and not a lot of local community, but she's doing it with support from her online friends (us). She's @ASimpleSix on Twitter & has a blog too. Good luck!

Sally Jackson said...

Emily,Biking Yogini, Kath-Thanks for your encouragment! As I've been driving around this past week, I've been mapping out bike routes as I drive, trying to picture me and my kids riding along them. I can picture it!! I believe it can happen! Just because nobody else is out on the road (except for the few guys in sports gear and wandering teenagers) doesn't mean we can't get out there. True, I am scared of the careless drivers and those driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol..... and maybe even the constant rain, but the desire to get out and ride is strong. Maybe not everyday and maybe not everywhere we go, but at least something. I'm getting a bike! Thanks for the links and info about online communities. I also found a group here that does activism and critical mass type things. Emily is so right, that Community means a lot. Time to start building.