You can’t get kids of out of the car and into sneakers or onto bikes without convincing parents that it is safe, healthy, and useful. In this panel, leaders on the front lines of creating family bicycling culture will discuss tips and tricks to use in your community. Started in Eugene, Oregon in 2008 and now spread to over a dozen communities, Kidical Mass has been transforming family travel habits, helping families network and advocate, and raising the next generation of bicycle advocates. Families turned out in Santa Monica, California by the hundreds for the first-ever Kidical Mass ride, and a Family Bike Festival, which allowed parents to test-ride family-oriented bicycle gear, while children practiced bicycle handling skills and decorated helmets. Complementing encouragement activities, in-school bicycle skills training allowed elementary and middle school students to become confident cyclists, earn independence in their day-to-day lives, and experience riding on community streets.
Yesterday was pretty exciting with our Kidical Mass ride success! Today was more nerve-wracking as it was my first attempt at public speaking in a conference setting. I felt so "official" with my SPEAKER ribbon and getting to hang out with the real advocacy and program leaders like Jessica Roberts and Shane MacRhodes. Our panel was called Family Bicycling: Empowering Tomorrow's Leaders.
I was really excited to be a part of this great group and after the breakout sessions I attended yesterday, I was feeling pretty okay about the whole thing. I even had powerpoint slides to help my along. If all else failed, pictures of my adorable kids would help distract them from my blabbering. I tried doing a run-through with my mom and bumbled the entire thing so I decided to take some notes with me.
After listening to Shane and Peter talk about their successful Kidical Mass and Bike Fest programs, I got up and talked about our own family journey to car-freedom. There was only one guy in the audience who was obviously flabbergasted about the idea of NOT having a car (although he also treated the presentations as his own personal conversation). It was great to have some friendly and familiar faces in the crowd, too. Afterwards, a couple from Arcata asked to take a photo of me with my website slide behind us so they could post it on their Kidical Mass page.
Overall, I think it went well. We all had fun topics to talk about and cute pictures of kids on bikes. The conference was a blast. I got to meet so many wonderful people doing incredible things to help the walkability and bikeability of their local communities. One woman, Elizabeth, from Turlock was there on her own to learn about the best ways to implement Safe Routes curriculum and practices. Her family is the only car-free family in their town! Another guy from San Fran was excited to start planning how he could continue being car-free when he and his fiancee start having kids. I had to point him on to Hum Of The City, of course. I hope to be able to continue learning from these folks and sharing our experience. This is the future of transportation, whether you know it or not (you all know it, of course). I feel so lucky to be a part of this greater movement.
This is us. We're fun.