(1) The environment. Many of us in the Western U.S. just lived thru one of the warmest, driest winters on record. There’s little doubt that climate change is a real thing and the consequences are going to be felt in our (and our children’s) lifetime. Cutting back on driving and doing more trips on two-wheels is one of the ways we as individuals can help minimize our impact on the environment. If you are looking for motivation to make major change, there are several impressive biking families on the blogosphere that are car-free. For the rest of us, biking to work and school, riding to the park or library instead of driving, and raising awareness for the need for cycling infrastructure in our towns and cities, are easy and immediate steps we can take.
(2) Outdoor time. Kids today (mine included!) spend much of their time indoors. Between electronic distractions, fears of leaving kids outside unattended and long days at school, the average child spends only four to seven minutes outdoors each day. This has unfortunate physical and emotional consequences. For more on this phenomenon, I’d recommend the fantastic book Last Child in the Woods. Time spent on a bicycle is quality time spent in the outdoors. Even for kids biking in urban areas, cycling is often a means of getting to a park or other green space. Many urban bike trails run thru preservation areas and along rivers. Even better, mountain biking and BMX give little ones the opportunity to play in the dirt.
(3) Exercise. It is no surprise that with all that indoor time, and the caloric-rich Standard American diet, kids and adults alike are struggling with obesity and other diseases related to a sedentary lifestyle. Cycling is fantastic exercise, and it has the added benefit of being fun (something not a lot of people feel about a treadmill). Kids can do it without realizing it is “exercise.” I love biking as a family, because as a working mom with limited time, I can get in a workout while spending time with my son. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.
(4) Quality family time. Like all families I’m sure, we have trouble finding time to spend all together. Even if we’re all at home, one parent is busy doing dishes and the other is wrestling a toddler into their pajamas. Cycling is our way to spend quality time together. Whether it is a quick spin to the playground before dinner, or an all-day mountain bike trip on the weekend, biking as a family is our way of unplugging from everything else and building lasting memories.
(5) Fun! This is the most obvious reason to start biking as a family. Kids have an inborn love of bikes, they love spending time as a family, and they love being outdoors. As adults, being around that joy inspires joy within us as well. When our family bikes down the road, you can hear giggles, bells dinging, and songs being belted out.