The Freedom of Being a “Bike Mom”

Photo:  Bike Portland
Photo: Bike Portland

In our culture, we have all sorts of mom archetypes and stereotypes: “soccer mom,” “wine mom.”

Motherhood can be kind of a confining role. Historically, it hasn’t exactly been synonymous with having fun and being active outdoors. So in honor of Mother’s Day, we wanted to pay tribute to the “bike mom.”

Madi Carlson at Bike Portland writes that biking was a lifeline during the tough times that come along with mothering young kids:

I’m exhausted, and have been for 11 years and 21 days. Not quite as much these days now that my kids are older and more independent, but I vividly remember the days we were together nonstop, day-in and day-out (actually, day-out and day-out as we spent most of our time outside). And while I didn’t appreciate it at the time, my bike saved me. Being able to carry myself, my kids, and our stuff far from home to places of peace and to do it via my own pedal power — versus the expense and hassle of using car or bus — made me feel capable, strong, and free!

For as exhausting as they are, kids are excellent at forcing us to slow down and view things through their eyes — not only hazards like dog poo to accidentally step in (again?!) and food to eat off the ground, but also the simple joy of getting around by bike that you don’t feel walking, driving, or busing.

But it’s more than just remembering and reliving how magical those early days of biking are. When I combine that with having brought my whole family somewhere — be it by my clunky old bike with an eBay baby seat, a second-hand trailer, or my brand new cargo bike — it makes me feel like I can survive anything. That’s not to say there aren’t difficulties and tantrums even in this magical bikey world, but they’re certainly a lot fewer and a lot easier to weather.

Women are still a minority in transportation biking. And the task of transporting kids by bike is no easy task. But a growing number of women like Carlson are showing not just that biking with children is possible, but can be deeply rewarding as well.

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