We Had Kidical Mass

With sixteen kiddos and twenty-nine adults riding, walking and serving ice cream, we achieved Kidical Mass in Cooper-Young! Yes, the weather was rainy all day. But by 6:45, the sky had cleared, the bikes started rolling in and the bunch of us gathered on 1st Congo’s labyrinth parking lot. Pastor Sonia even came out, and she said she hadn’t been on a bicycle in twenty years!

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Wee Ride Memphis has led rides since March. But we’ve had trouble getting families with young children to join us. The main concern listed is that the kids are too little to ride their bikes more than a couple of miles but too big to fit in a bike trailer. There are other options for towing your kids, like trailer bikes and cargo bikes, but those often require a bigger investment than folks are ready to make. So, we decided to try a Kidical Mass ride instead. The idea here is a very slow, and this time, extremely short ride that even kids on balance bikes could manage. And manage they did.

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This family rode their kid over in the bike trailer, and mom carried his balance bike in her backpack. His legs were too little to ride all the way from their house, but he was more than strong enough to ride our four block route, twice!, once they joined the group!

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This kid was so fast on her bike, that I had trouble catching her picture. The labyrinth was a great place for the kids to warm up their legs. And it gave everybody a good place to gather up.

The Kidical Mass idea must have struck a chord with the families we’ve been trying to reach, because they turned out even though the weather was so iffy.

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And to celebrate this great ride, we had ice cream and cookies. Thanks, especially, to Hut Easley for homemade peach ice cream, Richard Mitchell for delicious cookies, Bill and Cindy Tupis and Bobbie Jo Kulwicki for serving the snacks, and Mark Allen for standing in the intersection at Cooper and Young to make sure all of our riders made it through the light!

Thanks, everybody, for making this a great ride. And for showing Memphis how fun it is to have families riding on our streets!

Our next scheduled ride will be the mini tour of GrowMemphis’ Tour de Coop on September 20. Mark your calendars and make your reservations here. And get ready to ride!

A Kidical Mass Ride

We want more families and kids on bikes! We have had several great rides with Wee Ride Memphis. But we’re having trouble getting families to ride with us. Many have said that they don’t have a way to tote the little kids on, or behind, their bikes. After a very informal and small survey, we decided to try something different: a much shorter ride! Lots of other cities are doing rides like this. They call them Kidical Mass rides.

For our Kidical Mass, we plan to meet at 1st Congo, and ride the four blocks it takes to get all the way around the church, on the street. At then end, we’ll head up to the deck on the north side of the church and enjoy homemade ice cream, together! Will you and your little ones join us?

On Friday, August 8, we’ll meet at 6:45, go over a few rules of the road and ride, and then head out promptly at 7:00 p.m. We encourage parents to bring kids with balance bikes, bikes with training wheels and other kids bikes as well as your own. Everyone MUST wear a helmet for this ride.

Will you join us?

DATE: 08/08/2014 (Friday)

TIME: Meet around 6:45 PM, Roll out promptly at 7:00

START: We are meeting at 1st Congo, 1000 S. Cooper St, in the Southeast parking lot (on top of the labyrinth in the parking lot, where you would park if you were coming to the farmers’ market).

END: 1st Congo, on the North end of the building. We will park the bikes and gather on the North deck for homemade ice cream.

HELMETS ARE REQUIRED AND BELLS AND LIGHTS ARE STRONGLY SUGGESTED. Kids under 16 are required by Memphis Code of Ordinances to wear helmets, but as a ride sponsored by Revolutions Memphis, we require all rides to wear helmets and be a good example for the kids. A waiver will be present to sign for yourself and your children.

What is Kidical Mass? Kidical Mass is a legal, safe and FUN bike ride for kids, kids at heart, and their families. The first ride was held in April 2008 in Eugene, Oregon and has now spread to over a dozen communities throughout North America and beyond. The rides are meant to be family friendly bike rides through a community.

All types of bikes, trailers, trail-a-bikes, Xtracycles, longtails, bakfiets, Long Johns, tandems, folders, trikes, and whatever rolls are welcome! We celebrate the fact that Kids are Traffic Too and aim for family fun on vehicles that don’t hurt the future!

Check out this great FAQs page for how Kidical Mass works.

ROUTE: We plan to ride four full blocks, on the street, around 1st Congo. If older kids show up, we’ll add a few blocks more for them.

****ROUTE SUBJECT TO CHANGE*****

RSVP: To our facebook page.

FAQs:

  • What happens if there is bad weather?:  If it rains, we won’t ride. Please check back on the website and Facebook group.
  • I want to drive down, where can I park?: We suggest you park in 1st Congo’s South parking lot (along Walker) or the Northeast parking lot (along Blythe), so you can easily reload bikes and kids at the end.
  • How fast do you go?: For this Kidical Mass we will go so slow we could probably walk faster. No really, this ride is at a slow rate, we wait for the group between lights / stop signs and we cross these together.
  • Kids on Training Wheels?: This will be a very short and slow ride. Therefore, we welcome training wheels and balance bikes.
  • Can I come without a kid?: Yes, as long as you are pro safe streets and do not make us nervous you are welcome to come without children. Please remember though you are riding with children.
  • Can I come without an adult?: Sorry, at this time we require you come with an adult who is responsible for you.
  • Can I volunteer to help?: YES PLEASE. Send us a Facebook message!

Even more ideas for riding with kids

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to organize rides that small kids on bikes can do with us. I’m thinking maybe a group ride that just goes around 1st Congo, or maybe just two or three blocks into Cooper-Young from 1st Congo. Maybe we could finish at the beautiful deck on the North end of 1st Congo for some ice cream. Or maybe we could meet up at Rainbow Lake Playground and then ride through the Old Forest? What do you think? Would you bring your bikes and your kids bikes to a ride like this? I have more questions on this topic at the end of this post.

I am also, always, keeping an eye out for ideas of how to tow the kids. Why am I so concerned with this? Because I want all of us to be able to make more short trips by bike. But if the kids are too little to ride their own bikes on the street, than the errand that is only a mile or two away remains un-doable by bike.

Therefore, I was very excited to see this post on Carfree with Kids. This family put together some handouts to compare and contrast lots of options for towing 1 to 4+ kids by bike. They outline the pros and cons and the cost. And something I hadn’t considered. They also look at whether options that latch on to bikes will be compatible with all adult bicycles or only specific ones. You can read the full post to get some background on why they wrote these up. Or you can go straight to the handouts here and here.

And back to the kid-friendly group ride, with kids riding their own bikes.

With your current bicycle set-up, would you be interested in a group ride where the kids ride their own bikes? Some folks in other cities call this kid of ride a Kidical Mass (as opposed to a Critical Mass ride.) I think with kids involved it’s less aggressive than many Critical Mass rides are known for being. I like how this group in Washington D.C. does it. And I like how Kidical Mass Philidelphia writes up their rules.

It makes sense to me that we would plan to take the whole lane when riding together. Mostly because that is the only way I can imagine keeping a bunch of small kids corralled by the adults. And I can’t imagine that explaining to Miss Bean and her 4 and 5-year-old friends that we all have to stay all the way to the right. But do you agree? And, do you prefer a ride in Overton Park, only, or would you be open to riding streets in Cooper-Young? When is the best time? Are you only open to a weekend ride or could we find a weekday morning or evening that a group of us could ride? If we go on a weekday evening, after dinner, I think we won’t get too bitten by mosquitoes as long as we keep moving! What do you think? I’m really looking for your thoughts on this one. Comment here or on Facebook. I may be the only one interested in this. But if you are too, let me know!

Carrying stuff

Carrying stuff. I always need to. And my bike is not currently equipped to carry anything but children. It’s fine when I have the bike trailer on my bike, or even better, on Teddy’s. I can load it up with just about everything. But what about when it’s just me and one kid or even, though this almost never happens, just me?!

Our friends over at Let’s Go Ride a Bike have some great ideas. And you don’t even need a cargo bike to implement them! You can see the video here.

 

Lost

I’ve been wanting to participate in Memphis’ 30 Day Car-Free Challenge. And by participate, I mean that I’ve been wanting to make some of my regular trips by bicycle. Now, the Car-Free Challenge is not specific to bicycling. The City is encouraging all of us to just try a different mode of transport, be it walking, bicycling, riding the bus or car-pooling. But, I already know that I can walk to places in Cooper-Young. And I decided early on in the month that I wasn’t willing to wait on the bus that would take Miss Bean and I to our regular Friday piano at the University of Memphis. And just staying in, and therefore not using the car, doesn’t really seem a true experience of the challenge, though we have done that for several days.

So, this morning, I decided that we had two errands and we could do them by bicycle. This was to be my third solo ride, but the first one where I was doing more than just visiting a friend or going to the park. I’m sure I’m going to get faster at the set-up. But right now, after everyone is potty-ed and diapered, snacks are packed and toddlers are distracted; getting out the bike, trailer, flag, helmets, all the right bags, and us three riders takes me a solid 15 minutes. I only had to go back in the house once after locking the door, to get my own helmet. And we were off.

On our Saturday Wee Ride to La Michoacana, we followed the most scenic route through Tobey Park and then Chickasaw Gardens. But it was super wind-y and after trying to figure out what we did on the map, I decided that I would just stick with something more straightforward. So instead, we crossed Tiger Lane and went behind the Liberty Bowl to cross the railroad tracks and go East on Midland. This runs into the Memphis Country Club, but I thought taking Southern for just a short time would be okay. Of course, as soon as we got behind the Liberty Bowl, a train came. It was super slow-moving, and I was kicking myself for not just figuring out the Chickasaw Gardens route. But the train engineer waved to Miss Bean and we chatted with some guys in a truck who were also waiting on the train. After 10 minutes, we were on our way, again.

The rest of the ride to errand #1, The Peddler Bike Shop was uneventful, except for the part where I also didn’t know exactly where it was on Highland. But after going South when I should have gone North, and then passing it the other way because I was afraid to pull a U-turn on with the trailer, we pulled into the bike rack, locked up and went inside. I was actually really pleased with this errand. I was there to ask Cort Percer, from the Peddler, to do a class for Revolutions in May called “You Can Fix It.” He agreed and is going to teach an in-the-field maintenance class covering topics like fixing a flat or a chain when you are out on the road, like we were, today. This class will be on Monday, May 12, at 6:30 p.m. And if you are not already a member of Revolutions, you should join and then take this class!

After this errand, I felt so good that I decided I could do errand number two which was to go to Benjamin Hooks Central Library. We have not been there in ages, even though it is one of our favorite places in town. I felt a little tired on some of the hills but we arrived just fine. We looked around the Children’s Room for a while and I decided to check the computer to figure out that route through Chickasaw Gardens, because it seemed silly to go all the way South to Southern (and I was too afraid of my novice self pulling the trailer on Central). Have you guessed, already, that I do not have a smart phone? Well I don’t, but I found a map online, drew one out for myself and wrote down directions and thought I was all set.

But then we attempted it. I got completely lost.

That neighborhood is lovely but the streets are ridiculous. And I started thinking how from now on, I think I’m going to approach riding a bike, especially when out by myself with the kids, as though I am in a foreign country. Everything looks so different on the bicycle. Roads seems farther apart. It feels like a lot more work to try one way and then have to turn around. And even though we passed a pretty white lady out for her morning jog who could have probably helped me with directions, I was embarrassed to ask. I’m sure that she spoke English, unlike when I lived in West Africa. But I was hot and sweaty and tired. And I had already passed her twice. But in Senegal, I got really good at speaking French and Wolof, because I made myself ask for help. And I tried out lots of new routes, even though I sometimes got lost. And I got hot and sweaty and tired because I was always walking or hoping on a Car Rapide.

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But I figured out how to get most places and I was really proud of that. I know I can get to that place here, on my bicycle, too. Even if I did feel pretty defeated, today. It is a much different thing exploring with kids. Not only is there a lot more stuff to carry, but there is their well-being to consider, too. I’m glad to be doing this hard work while it is still Spring. It was nice to have a breeze. And they were able to snack and nap. Miss Bean cheered me on and waited until I was at least seated in a comfortable chair nursing Mr. Bear, to remind me that we also needed to have some lunch.

I think our next trip out alone will be to the Park. But, today, I accomplished errands. And now that I’ve done it once, I know that I can do it, again.

A Ride to La Michoacana and the Official Bike Gate Opening!

Yesterday was a beautiful day for a ride. It was sunny, but not yet hot, a light breeze was blowing and Wee Ride Memphis had 21 people join us for a group ride. We had three kids in bike trailers, a 13 year old riding her own bike, and folks all the way into their 70s pedaling right along. Thanks to our friend (and Memphis Bike/Ped Coordinator), Kyle Wagenschutz, we had a super route that took us through scenic Chickasaw Gardens, across the campus of the University of Memphis, up Goodlett and then back by the Shelby Farms Greenline to Overton Park. You can see the map here.

 

We arrived at La Michoacana and everyone headed in for Mexican ice-pops. I had coffee cream with liquidy chocolate in the middle. Who knows what anyone else had. I was too focused on mine.

A few pics of the visiting and the eating:

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After getting our fill on ice-pops (did you know that they will dip any flavor in chocolate?!), we headed on to Overton Park via the Greenline. The Bike Gate looks amazing, as I have mentioned here before.

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You can see the bit of gravel we had to travel over to get to it.

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But, of course, this will be the connector from Overton Park to the Green Line. And they are making progress on it, so we’ll keep checking back.

The Opening Ceremony was super. There were tubas! There was a double-decker bike (or is it a two-story bike?)! Congressman Cohen and Mayor Wharton were there, as well as a couple hundred people, mostly on bicycles!

Bike Gate Official Opening

And everybody was so grateful to all the folks who made this Bike Gate and pavilion possible. The speakers talked about Memphis’ emerging cycling identity. And Mayor Wharton noted that Atlanta is now trying to be like Memphis, as they start pursuing bike lanes. The mayor also recounted that what originally started him thinking about Memphis’ bikability was some college kids asking him, “Mayor, would you like to have a city that’s shaped around your views or shaped around a vision for generations to come.” He said that’s what did it for him.

This commitment and the great work in progress to make Memphis such a bikable city is a big part of why we moved here. We look forward to more lanes and more connections. And we look forward to more group rides. I hope you’ll join us!

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More Ideas for Riding With Kids

I found a blog called Chicargobike. It has some great posts with ideas for riding with kids. 

For nursing moms riding with babies, go here.

To see how to retrofit an old Schwinn with up to 2 kids and panniers!, to here.

And for some pretty pictures and good info from the blog Lovely Bicycle! about two more cargo bike options, one that’s a Dutchy, go here. I was also interested in this blog’s Posts of Interest, listed on the left. One is titled “The Mary Poppins Effect” and another “Bike or Vacuum Cleaner” looks like reading for later!

Happy reading!

 

A Peter Pan Bike-A-Van

It was around 50 degrees and a bit overcast when we left the house, this morning. So, it was not too surprising that most folks decided not to join us for today’s Bike-A-Van. We rode down to Cook Convention Center to see Ballet Memphis rehearse Peter Pan. They were showing off the flying apparatus. I feel sad for all you that missed this trip. Ballet Memphis’ performance of Peter Pan is going to be great!

Last night, in the pouring rain, we drove downtown to scout out a bike rack for locking up the bikes. Turns out the Convention Center does not have a rack. But, today, we borrowed Mayor Wharton’s parking spot (does he lock up his bike here, too)?

 

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And the nice security guard inside the Convention Center said he’d keep an eye on the bikes for us.

We got to see several dancers flying through the air.

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And by the time we rode home, it was sunny.

The idea of our Bike-A-Van rides is that we can actually go places around town on our bikes. Today, it was the Convention Center. Watch the facebook page for other destinations!