An Ode to Bicycling Families
It's been an interesting year. Here at Splendid Cycles it's been a great year. But, elsewhere in Oregon and the world there have been some tough days and weeks, with natural disasters and incredibly sad news of hatred, intolerance, and violence. But rather than give you my opinion on those topics, I thought I'd share with you what I found to be an antidote for the deep sadness those events stirred in me, and a warning: this is going to get corny(but it is how I'm feeling). Anyway, the antidote: just thinking about all of the amazing families we work with, sell bikes to, and know as part of the cargo bike community.
While it's really cool and gratifying to help businesses reduce their reliance on automobiles, it's the families that truly warm my heart. I've thought so much about them in the last few weeks. I've thought about their children, their stories, and the world they are working to create for their children. Every single family we've been honored to help with bikes has inspired us and given us many reasons to keep doing what we do.
Seeing the way these families bond through bicycling and seeing the resulting healthy, happy children truly gives me hope. When sad news reaches me it is thinking about these families that have brought me the most comfort. These parents seem to be focused on the things that matter. They're making choices that slow down their lives, enrich their children's lives, and result in high-quality family time.They're also the beginning of a change we need here in the USA that shifts us away from our automobile-dominated life style - a lifestyle that isolates us from each other, removes us from contact with our neighbors, and creates a hectic pace that results in excessive amounts of stress.
It isn't an easy path for these early-adopter bicycling families. They have to juggle busy schedules with the slower pace of the bicycle. While their neighbors and coworkers are zipping to destinations by car, they're donning helmets, rain gear, and bike-friendly diaper bags. Sometimes I wonder how they do it as sometimes I'm challenged to get just myself out the door on a rainy day.
Some are ridiculed by the unknowing, well-meaning strangers who say things like, "How can you endanger your child by putting them on a bike?" This whole line of thinking is fuel for another blog but let me say how grossly mistaken I believe such people are. Cycling has its risks but so does just about everything in life so calling out concern on just bicycling safety is a narrow focus indeed.
Cycling families cope with cold, wet weather and Totcicles (aka cold toddlers). They must get creative figuring out how to get the items they need by bicycle, all with kids in tow. BUT, Holy Cow! they do it, and from what I observe they do it with a sense of humor and open hearts. They are setting sterling examples for their children of how to embrace and enjoy life and each other.
I'm convinced , these children are growing up loved, open-hearted themselves, and surrounded by a strong community of adults supporting them and what their parents do; they all give me hope. They restore my faith in humanity. They help me see so much more goodness on this earth than bad. Don't get me wrong, I know dozens of wonderful non-biking families, it's just that the cargo bike families really do so many remarkable things every day that I can't help but be grateful for them all.
I know that now media-famous Emily Finch, mother of 6, has some received criticism for having a large family, as has another mom of 4 I spoke with recently. That's unfortunate. As an environmentalist, I am concerned about population growth, but I'm more concerned with the happiness and mental welfare of our society. These particular large-family moms (and dads) happen to be incredible parents and because of that are contributing to our society in ways that are far more important than zero-population growth. So, to them I say, "Hey, why aren't you having more kids?"
And I say to all of the parents out there, making sacrifices to teach their children to appreciate a simple, slower way of life, structured with love and support: Thank You. Thank you for being my antidote to the sadness I feel in response to many of the world's tragedies. May you all have tailwinds and rosy-cheeked children!