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Pedal-Friendly: only for the privileged?

Today I read an article in Bicycling Magazine, not because I subscribe to the publication but because friends tipped me off that they'd seen my picture in it.  The piece: all about cargo bikes, the lifestyle of those cycle-oriented that want to tread lightly on the earth.

Here on urbanMamas, we have often talked about our mamabikeoramama machines, hauling kids, their gear, our gear, all our wholesome foodstuffs, from this place to that, all on our two-wheelers.  Amazing, right?  In theory, this is all a low-cost venture when compared to the cost of gas, a car, insurance.  The $700 I spent to outfit an Xtracycle (done on a 'tight' budget) has paid for itself many times over in past years.

In reality, though, there are many, many factors why lower-income families can't pedal in suit, as much as I dream that they can.

There is affordable housing: often not located just a pedal away from school, daycare or work.   Many times, the housing isn't adjacent to safe infrastructure for biking.  And, the housing might not be well served by public transit.  So, when it comes down to it, that household is still going to need a car, and that $700 to outfit an Xtracycle suddenly becomes a luxury, not a necessity, not a primary mode of transportation.  Also, the housing: will it have bike-friendly accommodation - safe parking, easy access the like?  There are so many other factors that go into housing, it is likely bike-related needs are trumped for other priorities.

There are jobs: many times, hourly wage earning, at hours that don't allow for longer transit time or at times of day not conducive to biking (say, middle of night? graveyard shift?).  And, again, compare the affordable housing location of where the job epicenters might be.  Are they separated by miles and miles and miles?  Likely.  Are their accommodations for changing or showering? 

The thought of promoting bicycling as an earth-friendly and cost-effective means to transport our families is romantic.  It is a romantic story that I personally have the privilege to live.  I realize, though, that there are those out there that cannot.  That reality is painful for me; I like romantic stories.  There is an organization out there, the Community Cycling Center, that is working on these very issues that I often wonder about:  how can cycling really become accessible to all (and by "all" we mean *all*)?

We urbanMamas never mean to be righteous about our velo love.  While we want you all to join us in our pedal frenzy, we know that is not possible.  But really: how can cycling be accessible for all, across socioeconomic and ethnic divides?

Comments

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Yes. Thank you for saying it. I'd love it if cycling was accessible to all. That's just not the reality we live in.

Bridging the "derailleur divide" and finding ways for more people to participate is an important issue for cycling advocacy and transportation planning. Here in Portland, Sellwood Cycles has just introduced a low-cost rental option for families. This program is targeted at participants in the Bike Train to school program. By no means does it solve the issue, but it is one of many available resources to boost access to cycling. Read more about the rental program and the Bike Train program at Bike Portland.
http://bikeportland.org/2011/09/27/volunteers-gather-to-grow-local-bike-train-movement-59669

Well, I personally like your romantic story! Although I don't currently live it, I like that you help me dream it is possible. Maybe I will get there someday! And it's good to have idealists in the world to balance out the rest of us.

School starts at 8:45. I have to be at work at 9. It takes me 10 minutes to drive there. It's pretty close, but still too far to bike and get there on time, not to mention stowing my bike and cleaning myself up before my 9am client. And then there is the darkness. I cannot fathom not only riding home in the dark (and rain) but also then stopping at the after school program (again, I get out of work at 5:30, the after school program is over at 6 exactly) and riding my daughter home in the dark (and rain). Especially because at this time I have no attachment to ride her home on and have gotten no raise in the 4 years I have been at my job so I can't afford one (I would LOVE a tagalong!)...I would love to do the bike thing. I just can't for the life of me figure out a way around all of these obstacles.

It's also priorities. Right of the bat I might say that I can't afford the super cool bike and gear and paraphernalia that one must have to do the "bike thing" in Portland. But on the flip side, if it were something I REALLY, REALLY wanted to do, I could find the money. But biking other than leisurely cruising is not for me, which doesn't mean that I don't care about the earth and the environment. I personally don't like the idea of being in traffic, with vehicles that weigh upwards of 7,000 pounds. But you also have to admit that the whole Portland biking thing is sort of a whole subculture within Portland culture. I don't see myself as part of THAT subculture)So, there may be lower income people who wish they could bike, but not everyone has that aspiration. I know I don't. And I'm not poor. I just like driving my car to get around.

Debby: school starts at 8:45, but opens 10 minutes earlier than that--you could also drop your daughter off when they start breakfast at 8:15. Your gas savings would easily pay for the attachment. If you're a 10 minute drive away, seriously, it shouldn't take THAT much longer to bike there.

That said, I am also only a casual coaster bike rider (and have zero interest in taking it further than that). But as a former New Yorker, I don't drive at ALL. Trimet is amazingly underrated (for a smallish city, we have an excellent mass transit system). We do have 1 car (my husband drives) and it's more than enough.

A lot of the "we have to drive" here is cultural. I actually lost a job offer because I don't drive, even though I demonstrated how this would not affect my job performance in any way. People also overlook that time spent on Trimet can be used productively, whereas time spent driving should be spent driving.

As for affordable housing---while, again, cycling might not be an option, trimet is. There's plenty of affordable housing right on the Max line.

I love my bike. I used one of the tax deals under GWB to buy an Xtracycle set up (converted a frame I already had, so not as expensive as it could have been). We also have a hand me down tag-along for my husband's bike. And my two boys each have good bikes and they are old enough to ride on their own for local things like school and grocery store. We ride as often as we can and want. However, I also have no problems driving to things like work when I work an overnight shift because I'm not riding my bike at midnight. And I drive when it's pouring down rain if I just don't feel like toughing it out. For me, cycling is accessible to the extent that I want it, but it isn't the only option and I'm happy with our choices.

In my mind, the idea around making cycling accessible is about making sure those people who want to ride, can. And at whatever level they want. Some people are going to be recreational riders, and others are going to make a whole lifestyle out of it. There is room for everyone. I think education about the health and environmental benefits it great, in the same way we educate about tobacco, alcohol, sugar, and basic healthcare. Some people will take an educational campaign like that and think about adding it to their life, and some won't. Part of what makes it inaccessible, in my mind, is when it's painted as an all or none activity. That is more of a barrier than actually obtaining a bike, I think.

I would imagine that most posters have desk jobs but as someone who doesn't let me say that if your job is physically demanding and exhausting you don't have the energy to bike to and from work and many of us need to carry tools and equipment.

With jin on this one.. I don't care for sharing the road with cars. I don't think its safe to make your little kids share the road this way, either.

My neighborhood is not very bike friendly. I moved to the Sw corner because I feel the schools are better here.. no lottery or private school nonsense you guys are dealing with. I own two cars but only drive one. We've made a decision to drop my hubby at the bus station each morning and pick him up each evening.

And really, biking in the rain? Doesn't that make you and the kids all wet and miserable and cold? Where's the good parenting in that?

So hmmm,let me guess: this post was written by the same poster who posted about a month ago about eating healthy in kind of an uppity way? It kind of sounds like the same elitest attitude,no offense.

Jackson mom, not to be argumentative, but you sound more like a SUBurban mom! Again I don't bike, but I do walk home in the rain (as does my daughter). Also, except for the odd storm, our rain is usually more drizzle-y than torrent-y (it's why other cities actually get the same amount of rain, just theirs comes down in sheets).

Really, getting a little wet is hardly the end of the world. I thought we PNWers were supposed to be sooooooo outdoorsy! I've also had cyclists tell me you don't even feel it.

Friendly neighbor: conversely, tee hee and I agree with you completely.

Oh, also too, also Jackson mom: there are plenty of very good schools (some actually better) here on the east side. I personally went through lottery (and hardship petition) hell this past spring for social, not academic reasons.

My daughter's neighborhood middle school is possibly/probably better academically than the magnet school she attends---it also has a bad reputation for bullying (as do a lot of the westside schools). She's a square peg who's better off at a school designed for square pegs (Da Vinci) that also happens to be amazing!

She'd probably be even more unhappy in a very traditional, football and cheerleader style westside school. She's also artistic---which, again, she wouldn't get at most middle schools, period.

Plus I believe most of the actual good private schools (e.g. Catlin Gable and OES) are on the Westside because that's where most of their attendees live.

So we don't "deal" with it any more than you do.

Zumpie, actually there are a few urbanmamas who live here in the Sw corner. Our kids went to Jackson middle school which is a Leonard Bernstein School of the Arts. They practice all kinds of artful learning there.

http://www.pps.k12.or.us/schools/jackson/344.htm

And yes, it's elitist to assume anyone can buy a 700$ bike. And hugely naive to assume that there's no danger in biking with small children on streets that also host cars.

Hey, I think it's great the west side has an arts focused school, as well. Though a quick peek shows it STILL isn't Da Vinci. BTW, you commented that you" moved to the westside for the schools". Jackson rates an 8 on greatschools (which is excellent). Da Vinci (and Mt Tabor, our neighborhood schools) rate 9.

Honestly, as a New Yorker, most Portlanders veer into suburban terrority in my estimation. But more so on the west side than the east, it's just like that.

It might surprise you all to know that the west side is very diverse both in culture and in lifestyle. Not to mention slightly larger lot size means we've got spots for our urban chickens, raised beds and our goats. Sure, some of us drive mini-vans but we do some of the same cool stuff you all do on the weekends.

Zumpie, found your great schools ratings and my kids went to Stephenson, a 9 and will attend Wilson, a 9. Looking at those lists though, I see a lot of threes and fours on the east and north sides. Not good. Glad you are in the right spot for your family.

Here's the link for those who may still have littles.

http://www.greatschools.org/oregon/portland/elementary-schools/?start=75&sortBy=GS_RATING_DESCENDING&gradeLevels=e&st=public&st=charter&st=private

I'm not a biker. Before kids not a biker. After kids even less of a biker. I wouldn't feel safe (mine are still little). However, I've got to say I'm amazed at the bitterness this post has brought up. West side vs. East side schools in relation to a bike post? Good grief. It seems like there has been a lot of defensiveness recently. I guess I don't understand why people who seem so easily bothered by this forum keep reading it.

CG, I agree with you--but I was not the first to talk about schools, Jackson Mom was. And I mentioned being a tranplanted New Yorker, thus finding much of Portland more suburban, than urban.

But along those lines, if you live in a largely car dependent neighborhood, drive almost everywhere and don't walk anywhere (I'm not including evening leisure walks in this), then yes, you're pretty suburban---in fact how exactly ARE you urban? And since you're clearly comfortable with those choices (which there's nothing wrong) why all the defensiveness about it?

BTW, I no longer wear anything approximating a small size (50 pounds from when I was preggers that never came off), I ride my pretty pink coaster bike strictly for pleasure and try not to be holier than thou. I live on the eastside because it was cheaper when we bought and I really liked my house's fireplace.

Jackson Mom, I'll agree with you about North Portland schools---it's why we never considered it. But lumping ALL the eastside AND north PDX together is making an awfully big generalization. Actually most close in eastside schools are just as good overall as westside schools. Again, your argument is weak and disingenuous.

My daughter's elementary school was adequate and she'll attend either Franklin (her neighborhood school), 8, or Cleveland, 9. Or possibly Grant, 8, because a lot of Da Vinci kids go there.

I get the impression you like where you live and that's great--just don't smugly throw the "schools are better here", because it isn't a valid argument. Oh---and "artful" doesn't always mean "artistic", if you read Jane Austen it can mean something more along the lines of "manipulative".

P.S. I find chickens and raised beds super ugly! And while unmentioned, Farmers' Markets painfully dull and overpriced. So again, you're the ones with generalizations that not all eastsiders do, either.

One last point: Jackson Mom, your link only displays what everyone already knows: 95% of those schools were either North Portland (again different thing) or outer east county. Both of these are known for being deeply economically depressed areas.

Clicking on the links also reveals the multitude of excellent elementary schools on the eastside. There's also a 3 ranked westside school. In short it is completely possible to live on the eastside and send your child to excellent schools without the lottery.

My goodness, why are there SO many negative people out there? I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that the person who posted this was hoping for a more productive, positive conversation, as I imagine she was when posting about food (if it is indeed the same woman). For example, perhaps someone would suggest a get together be scheduled where folks who bike and are successful at it and have tips to share of how they do it could get together with folks who are really wanting to pedal but have several hurdles and wonder how best to overcome them. Or perhaps someone might share a biking blog or website with great articles or resources. Or maybe someone out there knows of a grant or program (like the above mentioned Sellwood Cycles rental program) or insert-helpful-solution-here. But here we have a majority of the comments slamming schools. That feels elitist to me. And childish. As the name of this forum suggests, aren't we supposed to be the grown ups? I for one applaud the poster for her efforts and passions and hope that those who are cynical and angry don't ever dishearten her. We need more of her in this world.

Wow, this topic went crazy.

I cannot believe how elitist the folks talking about the schools sound. Who are you to think you know what the North Portland school are like? Have you been inside, attended a PTA meeting, talked to the parents? Our school is rated low on the linked website but primarily due to test scores. Our test scores were great this year and brought down by ELL and SPEd scores and the reviews although mostly good were really old. My child has been at a NoPo school for 4 years and loves it and we are very happy.

More toward the topic, we have seen a big increase in the number of low income families who bike in our neighborhood. I cannot speak as a low income person myself as I sure most of the moms on this website cannot but I think having support from the community has increased out ridership. I hope we do not make the folks who do not want to ride feel uncomfortable or pressured to ride.

Sue, if your school has a positive community and the reviews are outdated, post a new review of your own on Greatschools. How else will people know? Because, let's be fair here--if I see poor scores and poor reviews, I'm certainly not going to want to send my kids there.

Some people take those reviews with the grain of salt they should. Getting in the school, attending a PTO meeting, and talking to other parents, that's how some of us judge schools.

Yikes, I'm a bit wary of adding to the conflict, but I do have some insight on this topic. Some time ago, I was at a mtg. sponsored by a local community of color agency. Staff from the community cycling group were on the agenda and they spoke about their interest in spreading their mission amongst communities of color. What they didn't understand was that they entered the meeting without an ounce of humility, pushed their agenda, and asked for no feedback from the folks present. After they left, many present voiced their frustration with the speakers - yet another example of how the dominant culture assumes that what works for them works for all. And, it's not just a matter of means, of being able to afford or manage being a bicycle commuter; it's also a matter of values -which are a reflection of culture. It's only the dominant culture that can *afford* to be "out" in their poverty (how often do you hear a poor person, shout out how they are watching their pennies, how they shop at thrift stores because they can't afford brand new clothing? Think about it, this luxury is only open to those in the middle class and above. the truly disadvantaged are often ashamed of this status). Unfortunately, cars are a status symbol. For marginalized folks, they continue to be so -for many reasons, including the fact that they are markers of having achieved the elusive "american dream."

When I first moved to Portland a few years back, I was so happy to find Urban Mamas... I found it a great resource, as well as thoughtful, supportive, and fun. But lately when I read the comment threads, I am saddened by how polarized and divisive the conversation has become. I miss our old dialogue and conversation where I could gleen new perspectives and ideas.

So, I find the topic of the community meeting an interesting one because I don't quite understand the racial divide on cycling as it pertains to the bike lane on Williams Ave, which is the meeting I'm assuming you're talking about. The issue of widening that lane and moving to one lane of motor vehicle traffic seems to me to be a way to make multiple modes of transportation safer and more accessible to all. I have to admit that I don't understand the accusation that it's a dominant race shoving something down the minority race argument. I know this speaks to the greater gentrification issue in the neighborhood, but even that one I struggle to understand. As a white female I bought a house where I could afford. I'm part of the problem because I did, but I'm also part of the problem if I flee? All I want is a neighborhood where my kids can play outside without getting shot or offered drugs. Isn't that a pretty universal desire? In any case, some people are going to bike, and some aren't. Some people use tobacco and some don't. I'm not a smoker, so I don't mind that no one gets to smoke in restaurants now, but is that the concern? The more we make cycling safer and accessible, people are afraid we're going to do away with their cars?

Also, the Safe Routes to School folks are doing a great job of making biking and walking more accessible to school kids, if folks are looking for community resources around accessibility. They are all about encouraging biking and walking to school, something anyone can do it you think about it. If you don't live within walking distance to your school, they encourage you to park a few blocks away and walk in. Or join with other classmates and walk together, like on the International Bike and Walk to school day this Wednesday. So, to the point above about cars being status symbols, I suppose it does ask parents to leave that at home for a day and inserts a value about walking, exercise, and community. I don't know what else to say about that because I don't see an issue with teaching kids that those things are important. Letting a whole culture of kids continue otherwise is worse, in my opinion. If you scroll down a bit in this article, Bitman likens the healthy food issue to the tobacco issue and teaching kids about good habits may be the ticket to changing adult behavior. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/opinion/sunday/is-junk-food-really-cheaper.html?pagewanted=all

I agree with Nostalgic. I have been on this forum for about 4 years now. When I first began reading, it was a wonderful resource for me. I felt like a diversity of issues were discussed, ranging from the small, everyday issues like getting kids to bed on time, to larger, more complex issues like schools and school choices.

Lately, though, I have consistently been turned off by the tenor of the original posts, as well as their resulting discussion. I don't know if the original posts are written by the same person, but I think they are given the personal information shared and the writing style. The posts are generally focused on the original poster working out her personal demons regarding biking, being greener, organic food, etc. I honestly don't find that they speak to my concerns as a parent or a woman, and they represent such an individual view that I think they are by nature polarizing. I do care about these issues, I just don't want every post to revolve on this site to revolve around them. And when we do talk about these issues on this forum, I would like to see the original posts actually ask genuine questions, rather than push an agenda.

I'd really like to see a return to the Urban Mamas where (I think) a greater diversity of women were writing the original posts.

s: the same people who are now writing the site are the same people who originally began the site. perhaps we've now just become so similar you can't tell us apart -- weirdly, while living very different lives in different quadrants of the city. now one of us has moved away to california. could it be that living in portland has brought us all to the same place? or maybe we're just deeply alike and searching for a path that makes us feel good about ourselves.

what's true is that it's really hard to find a supportive community here, as we used to. we have to look for our support elsewhere: most of what we're finding here is judgment, and often quite personal and hostile judgment. do you know we do this for free?

we're not anonymous: it's quite easy to find out who runs this site. my name is Sarah Gilbert: I have three little boys, all with behavioral or developmental concerns and a husband in the Army Reserves. I'm not the one who posted this, but I *am* the one who posted some of the famously angri-fying food posts. hello! who are YOU?

BACK TO BIKES:
Have the same dream. Dashed because (1) I'm terrified of biking in traffic, eeeek. (2) I'm heavy and out of shape, and feel the learning curve would be too steep.

I have never, ever had enough cash leftover after utilities & food for my family to save each month for a used bike/gear. Even from the Community Bicycling Ctr. A cash gift from my parents allowed me to buy a basic bike/helmet. Yay! Except, boo, now it's rainy.

(OK, OK, OK, and because people reallllllllly seem to need to know this, in order to filter/judge/ignore posts on here: I live on the Eastide. Have two kids. Am in my 40s. White. Let's see. Left-of-center. What else. Oo! I know Grew up in Calif. OH! And my kid goes to (gasp/scream/puke/applaud) a charter school. Judge away, folks.)

Getting back to the original topic...infrastructure is helpful. People are more likely to bike if they feel safe (which is obvious from several of the previous comments). Some of us are OK with just getting out there. Others need separated bikeways, routes with less traffic, etc. Having bike racks at businesses and schools is helpful.

We can teach each other about routes and rain gear and safety. We can try to do it in an encouraging way rather than a judging way. Which is hard. Much easier said that done. Right now, what I really want to do is shout my own story and say "you can do it, too." But I'm also seeing that that is not necessarily helpful. It may be helpful to some. For others it is not.

Kathleen: Oh, I hope you do shout your personal bike-to-work/school stories! Very helpful--even if your "situation" (location, daily schedules, income, age, preferences, etc.) differ from mine. Inspiring stories are great!!

Here's what I feel would help (coming from a momma that doesn't have a bike, used to live in bike friendly SE, then N. Po, and now not so bike friendly West Linn):
- Cheaper bikes, or offer some kind of no interest monthly payment system. (Does this exist already? If so please share!!)
- Bike sharing between neighbors, or through a co-op?
- Have some kind of program to ensure kids all have bikes at a young age, know the rules of the road, have helmets and create a culture of bike riding and road sharing from an early age.....
- ....and road sharing. If we could figure out how to make everyone share the road respectfully I think more people would ride bikes. I watch other drivers cut bikes off, and bikers constantly yelling at cars when the car is in the right. It scares me to think of having my kid on the back of a bike and something happen. People just don't watch for bikes (surprising, given how many there are here!) and I feel better insulated in a car.
- The weather is a deterrent for me. Rain gear for me? And the kids? Call me a big old girl, but I also don't like being cold, why would my 9 month old like it either? For us a bike would be for occasional use not to commute. But how do you commuters do it? Don't you arrive all sweaty and damp?
OK OK, quit laughing at me.......I know I seem like such a dork with these questions, but for those of us that don't bike on a regular basis, these are the things that run through our heads : )

OK, those are just some rambly thoughts. Some more coffee and I may come up with something else.....

My biking story: I started out riding (about 12 years ago, prechild) after someone handed down a bike to me. At that time, I had no experience riding bikes in the city and had many of the same concerns that have been mentioned here (rain, traffic, etc). A rain jacket and rain pants are a must if you plan to ride any time other than mid-summer. I also attached a bucket (with lid) to the side of my bike so I could put a spare pair of shoes and other items that I needed to keep dry. My kid is only 3, so he stays nice and cozy in the bike trailer. I need to mention that the bike trailer was sold to me at half price after chatting it up with the owner of one of our local bike shops; there's something special to be said about supporting your local small businesses. Anyway, back to helpful tips. I wear a neon reflective vest to make sure that I am as visible as possible when I ride. I always, always, always obey traffic laws. As for arriving sweaty and a little disheveled, I don't mind so much. I have never felt uncomfortable about not having fresh make-up and perfect hair, but that comes down to personal comfort. Also, I'm not a professional/career woman, just a native Oregonian blue collar type. Lucky (?) me. As for finding the safest commute, I recommend googling Portland Bike Maps. Get a FREE map to help choose your route. Carry that map with you at all times while biking. Know that you won't always take your bike on the same routes that you drive.
I would love to see more bikes out there on the road with me because I think there is safety in numbers and the infrastructure will only get better. I don't think I'm better than anyone else because I choose to ride my bike sometimes (I drive a car too). I just like how I feel when I get off my bike. I can't say the same thing about arriving to my destination when I've driven my car. Who knows, maybe you'd like the energized feeling, too. I say it's worth a try if you get the opportunity. Have fun and be safe out there!

Erin (note: you're not a dork!) & others, re: arriving sweaty and damp, I bike s-l-o-w when I'm on my way somewhere I want to look great -- or, I wear fabric/clothing that won't show it (a few wool pieces go a long way; most of them bought at Goodwill but a few acquired from Icebreaker etc. and deeply valued). I'm not really much of a sweater, but if I "sprint" (at a speed far slower than even your most leisurely spandex-clad commuter) with my four- and six-year-old aboard, I'll get sweaty. yesterday, when I left with barely enough time to reach the Montavilla Farmer's Market (about 4 miles) with my two boys, was an example. I was very hot and sweaty when I arrived; luckily, it was very cool and drizzly and I was quickly cooled down. in the best of worlds, I leave enough time and/or wear wicking fabrics.

re: weather and rain gear. I recognize that it's kind of a pain, but if you spend any time outside of your car in this city -- even walking to school a half-mile or so -- you're probably going to need rain gear! we use our rain gear, some bought at very spendy retail price and others picked up at thrift stores and naked mama parties, when it starts to get cold. when it's REALLY cold, so much so that I'd feel bad getting a baby exposed, I take the bus. that's my "big old girl" answer :) (we're car-free entirely)

I do love the idea of bike shares and interest-free payment plans. if I had my dream, I'd start a non-profit to buy family bikes for people who couldn't afford them. they'd have electric assists and rain guards for those like Erin and anonfornow who need such things. someday, when I get better at juggling my time, I'll make it happen.

My name is Olivia and I am the original poster. I am not a white mama. I have two girls and a boy. Lots of you know me. When I built my xtracycle, I had an extra $700 to put into our new ride. Yes, I had that privilege. Right now, I do not. In fact, ends do not meet, but that is due to some other circumstances.

The mamas who write here are the same mamas who put the site together over 7 years ago. We have shared and bared a lot, many of our thoughts, to you, our readers. We don't do it for money. We actually have other jobs. We post usually at night when everything else has been handled. We do it because it has built community for us and we thought it did for you, too.

Years ago, we used to have more face time. Life has gotten the most of us, our kids are growing & might require more of our time, our careers are busy. We haven't had a fun urbanMamas event in a long time, whereas there was a time we were doing them weekly. We want to get back to that (email us if you want to help coordinate). It is our believe that the in-person events really helps to supplement and support the online community we strive to create here.

You can accuse me for being elitist and I will take that. My post is a public admission that I have the luxury of having that extra $700 back then to build a bike and ride it around town. Also admission that my workplace doesn't care if I am sweaty and also an admission that I have job-flexibility that allows me a little extra time for commute. The point of the conversation was supposed to be part-admission, part-discussion: what financial reasons keep us from riding (if we think we want to)?

We here at all-mighty urbanMamas are also pretty ablist with all our bike-riding. We admit that too. The reason we write about it so much - beyond loving it - is because there are indeed people out there who are inspired by us. They tell us. Every day. Then, there are people out there who are annoyed by us. They also tell us, but not in person. They tell us here.

I want to get back to the conversation and share some things that I have learned in my elitist bike-riding around town, where I really do genuinely deep-down want to see more people of all backgrounds riding, walking, and taking transit to work because I feel that it builds a tightly woven fabric of a community that feels good. I was a pedestrian before I was a biker. I was a public-transit rider before I was a biker.

The Community Cycling Center does indeed go out into the community to have conversations like these. From my experience, they are well received by community members, but they are not perfect. I know they are committed to continuing the conversation, committed to learning how to participate in a way that is not just 'pushing their agenda'. (I do not believe they were actively involved in the N Williams conversations) The bikes sold at the CCC are pretty much market rate. They do provide jobs in the community and are pretty committed to workforce development for their neighbors in NE Portland. In addition, they give away bikes to kids and adults in their programs for free. They have groups of youth and adults who receive bikes as well as hands-on commuter advice and ongoing training on riding and basic maintenance. The organization does a lot, lot, lot beyond the summer camps and retail store that serves as the revenue generator that allows them to do good free work for the community. They also divert bikes from going straight to the trash by working all year to clean them up then gift them out to kids.

Also, years ago, Sarah and I met with some bike leaders. Sarah pondered "why can't we finance bikes if we can finance cars"? and the bike loan program was born. It is still in operation, but every bike shop I ask says that the program is under/never utilized: http://www.unitusccu.com/bike/

Finally, I just heard that the Kiel Johnson at BikeTrainPDX has started a family bike rental program. Cost will be underwritten by Sellwood Cycles. It also looks like it be coupled with the bike loan program. http://www.biketrainpdx.org/family-bike-rental-program-page-up-and-running/

As always, thanks for reading.

My husband utilized the bike loan program! He has been riding to work and has lost 5" off his mid-section and feels amazing. I manage kiddos and myself. I can't quite figure out the logistics to ride, yet. But thank you for bringing it up.

Thank you Olivia and the other Urbanmamas for creating a place for the things that can bring us together. It's much easier to criticize than to create.

I may not always have an interest in the topic or share a particular point of view but I appreciate how much you put yourselves out there.

To the people who are disappointed because the recent posts aren't meaningful for their lives:

This site is a volunteer effort and sometimes it's right on with my life, and sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's all about babies, and I don't have a baby anymore. Sometimes it's all about food, and my family doesn't stress about food much. Sometimes it's all about bikes, and my family is comfortable with our bike/car ratio.

But here's the thing. If there's an issue I'm interested in that hasn't popped up on the site recently, or maybe even ever, I can write in with my question or opinion. Chances are, one of the urbanmamas volunteers will post it. Voila, the site now reflects my concerns more closely.

So if you're upset with posts about bike because you'd rather talk about how freaking hard it is to get kids into car seats or you're wondering about how tall they have to be to get out of boosters or ride in the front seat . . .write about it and send it in (urbanamams@gmail.com).

If you're upset with posts about organic food because your family is focused on how to get enough food on the table and you don't know how to explain to your kids what your financial situation is . . . write about it and send it in (urbanamams@gmail.com).

If you want to start up a discussion about how families of color are excluded from civic participation, how to help keep your family from revolving around the disability of one of your children, how to talk to your kids about drugs or alcohol or sex . . . whatever issues you as a parent are interested in, please don't just register complaints. Be active, be helpful, start a new conversation.

Bike First! (http://www.bikefirstlttw.com/) is an organizatin that focuses on teaching differently abled children to ride. They also have a weekend workshop in mid-June that my 9 yr old daughter attended (Quick Start is a one-day fundraiser for children without disabilities which uses the “Lose the Training Wheels” specialized training and equipment to help kids ages 6 and up learn to ride a bicycle without training wheels). Last year, the Quick Start program had a sponsorship deal for PPS kids, so we didn't have to pay (couldn't have done it otherwise). My daughter was very scared of riding, well, mostly of falling, and really loved the program.

Zumpie, can't wait to get up an hour earlier to get my daughter to a school made breakfast so I can ride to work earlier on my trip that won't take much more time because it only takes 10 minutes to drive. I get to spend little enough time with my 6 year old daughter every day. Don't take away my breakfast and my only opportunity to interact with other class moms every morning. It's isolating enough to be the only singe full time working mom that I know of in class (there might be more to be fair, but they are probably just too busy to be able to stop and let me know they are in similar situations. And I am almost positive they don't bike their kids to school). My daughter goes to Lewis which is extremely bike friendly. It for sure is not laziness or not having my priorities straight that keep me from joining the bikey fold.

Debby, just suggesting. BTW, since I don't drive, I did all of the above when my daughter was 6--and I worked a 50/60 hour work week (and that didn't include the time I spent monitoring my email, etc from home).

I seriously doubt this would take an extra hour out of your day, I was merely pointing out with a few adjustments, things can be done. People deal with even more difficult situations all the time.

I know the Safe Routes people work with school counselors to get bikes and helmets in the hands of kids who want them. Check with yours if you need something. They might be able to help. Also, I drove past Weirs (a bike shop) in St. Johns the other day and notice they have a sign outside advertising "lay away." I think that's the closest to a no-interest loan I've seen in ages. I have fond (sometimes not so fond) memories of lay-away for school clothes when I was a kid!

So, here's what I am gathering from this discussion: 1) The UrbanMamas posters are volunteers, so they are allowed to get defensive when someone posts critical feedback; 2) Feedback is welcome, as long as it is positive, or at least neutral. Challenges are not allowed; 3) If you are going to post something critical of the discourse, you will be challenged to step out of the anonymity of the internet; 4) If you have something critical to say, you can't post it in an open forum; you need to send it directly to the Urban Mamas email so as not to open a critical dialogue about the site.

Seriously, I tried to keep my original comments respectful. I just re-read what I wrote before, and it's not flaming or disrespectful. I actually posted because I *do* care about this community and I want to be part of making it. Dissention is part of democratic discourse.

S they are interested in monologue not true dialogue. It's discouraging but true.

wholesome foodstuffs, from this place to that, all on our two-wheelers. Amazing, right? In theory, this is all a low-cost venture when compared to the cost of gas, a car, insurance

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