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Riding with Luci: Thoughts on riding around Tucson with a child

Luci and I stop to take a photo on our way home from the grocery store.

There is an inverse relationship between the temperature and the number of trips and miles I’ve ridden with my daughter Lucilia.

Mix in a mother who is getting slightly more comfortable with the prospect after joining us on several rides and you’ve got the most miles and trips Luci and I have been on.

Last Sunday, with it’s lower temperature, marked the first time Luci and I rode to the grocery store by ourselves. We called Luci’s mom when we left, when we got there, when we left again and finally when we got home.

Irene, Luci and I  went on six bike rides this week and used every type of facility available for bikes. We used the Rillito River path to get to a park, the path and a proposed bike boulevard route to get the bike boulevard open house and the path, boulevards and roads with striped shoulders to get to Tucson Meet Yourself.

It was a pleasure being able to use our car so little and our bikes so much to get around the city, but one thing is clear: we need more low-stress bike routes.

When I’m riding by myself, I’m entirely comfortable taking the lane on Congress in downtown Tucson or riding over Gate’s Pass. But, when Luci is with me it feels like cars are going faster and passing closer. I know they aren’t, but riding with a child changes your perspective.

I’ve added a “baby on board” sign to the back of her seat and bought a super bright flashing rear light that can be seen during the day and makes my wife sick if she rides behind me. I also change the way I ride when Luci is with me. I slow down a lot and I ride much more defensively.

Despite all these precautions, it is surprising to me that when we are riding together, even Mountain feels scary. I can’t imagine what it would be like for someone who hasn’t ridden 4,000 miles this year.

Both the city and county are working on low stress bikeways including bike boulevards and new parts of the Urban Loop, but they aren’t progressing quickly enough. How do we make bikes a priority in Tucson?

Despite my occasional apprehension, riding with my family is such a great experience and when I watch the video below, I realize I’ll never stop riding with them.

What do you think? Have you ridden with children?

12 comments
Jaimie Galayda
Jaimie Galayda

This is fantastic Mike! I'm so glad I found all your old posts on the subject of riding with tots.

Jon Senge
Jon Senge

Fantastic video! I have a seat that sits on between me and the handlebars for my little girl. I found your blog actually by looking for a bicycle Baby on Board sign for a bag I carry when I ride. Because she sits in front of me, it just looks like I'm the only one on the bike, and I'd like to draw more attention to us for approaching cars. Ideally I'd love a reflective sign I could attach to my bag. Any ideas?? You've inspired me to rig my Flip on my handlebars and grab a video of us like this.

Mtngoat
Mtngoat

I totally understand the joy of riding with kids. My husband and I are lucky enough to be able to bike his son to and from Kino School for kindergarten a couple days a week. He is getting heavy for the trailer, but we still tough it out because he LOVES it. I think it makes him feel like a VIP rolling up to school in his chariot. When we say we have to take the car, he is so disappointed. I love that we are instilling that love of biking in him while he is young. Keep it up!

Scott
Scott

This is as cute as it gets! Just be sure to never ever post helmet-cam video from her point of view on that bike.

Mallory
Mallory

I love these photos, and the video is so sweet! I miss you guys!

Mickey
Mickey

I saw a mother with a child on the back wipe out on the tracks during Cyclovia. It was easily one the disturbing things I've ever seen. Luckily the child was ok, but there is definitely a increased need for awareness.

Red Star
Red Star

The trick, challenge, and reward with these people is to be a step or two ahead of them and to be flexible on the mutual learning curve. The two Little Red Stars are meh when it comes bikes, but swim and dive like crazy; we adapt and facilitate, yet wonder where we went wrong...

Susannah
Susannah

Thanks for posting this! I just bought a baby seat to take my granddaughter on rides. We've been on a few and it's fun, but I stick to Mountain down to the Rillito River path. Even though I commute around town, I'm not secure enough, yet, to commute with her on the streets of Tucson. She loves the ride, especially when we get to the park.

Frank Tellez
Frank Tellez

Great story. Never thought of it from that perspective. We do need more low stress bike routes. That would be an excellent way to get more people bike commuting. Love the first picture btw. :D

Colby
Colby

Great video, Mike. What a fabulous memory!

Glenn Weyant
Glenn Weyant

great photos.. . be careful, and don't forget the sunscreen. kids can get pretty toasted on long rides...

Ianjohn27
Ianjohn27

This is a great video, Mike, and I'm really glad that you posted this story. In most areas we already have enough infrastructure to support experienced riders -- we need to offer alternative routes for the inexperienced riders to get people out of their cars! Bike boulevards are a great way to do this, as is the urban loop and the proposed arroyo chico greenway (amongst other projects). For every person brave enough to ride their bike to the store, it's one less car on the road -- which means less traffic, fewer potholes, less pollution, less noise, and a healthier population! Imagine a Tucson where getting on your bike to go to the store was actually a *more* attractive option than driving your car!