Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cargo Bike Dog

It was a big summer for us as we added this girl to our family.

She's a rescue from the South and yes, she's a tripawd (as the internet seems to deem some three-legged pups). We love her. She's sweet and loving and she is not at all hindered by having lost her front left leg just on July 1st. My boys like to boast that she's 'faster than many four-legged dogs.' So there.

We knew we needed to integrate her fully in our lives so we trained her to do this.

First we had the boys sit in the box with her. Since she's a *huge* fan of squirrels and we were worried that they'd tempt her too much, we decided to rig a harness system for her so she could ride on her own. We took out the bakfiets' folding front seat, used the hole openings, and screwed two short 'leashes' with clips to either side. We clip these to a body harness and she can sit and move around comfortably but she can't jump out upon squirrel sightings.

So this is how she and P get to work. Yes, besides being a cargo bike dog, she's also an office pup.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Perfect Gift

My friend C just gave these socks to me. Most perfect gift evah. Yes to 45!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Why LESS CAR MORE GO is Important

It seems a bit silly to be writing about this on my blog as I expect the only people who even visit this place are already folks who are interested in family bicycling-- you know the whole 'preaching to the choir' thing. But as the Kickstarter campaign for LESS CAR MORE GO is in its final week with $8,000 more to go to be funded, I feel like I would be remiss if I didn't say share why I think this documentary is important.

First, the non-bike part. I am not a filmmaker, but I do love films and yes, documentaries are particular favorites. Once, a lifetime ago, I flirted with the idea of going to film school. Instead, I became a teacher-- one who loved to create curricular connections between literature and documentaries. Then when P and I were finishing the Peace Corps, we were convinced that we should return to my area in the Philippines to create a documentary about this amazing country band at this local bar in Baguio called The Wild West. That never happened-- the bar sadly closed and I wonder what happened to those amazing musicians who loved American country music and could play it all, from the old school country stuff to the recent country stars. Their story would have been interesting to learn and document and I am sorry it didn't come to pass...

Anyway, back to LCMG-- filmmaker Liz Canning came up with this incredible idea for this documentary and it's not just about the bikes. She is creating a crowdsourced film where she called for footage from ordinary folks from all over the country and beyond. That means us non-filmmakers shoot video when out and about on cargo bikes, and we convince our friends who ride to let us interview them on camera. Then Liz watches hours and hours of all this video from all these many people and she is putting it together in one coherent story. It's an incredibly ambitious project and it's just really cool and I have no doubt that other documentary filmmakers will look at this example and come up with their own ideas for crowdsourced film projects. Liz's approach to this project speaks so much about the power of community. Crowdsourced and now crowdfunded. This film cannot happen without the crowd.

The other reason why LCMG is important is about the bikes and the families who ride them. I think back those six years ago when we were trying to figure out how to get kindergarten-aged twins to/from a school two+ miles away from our apartment and it just didn't seem right to use the car. Yet, they couldn't walk and they couldn't ride themselves and a bike trailer wouldn't work and there was no public transportation available for this route. There didn't seem to be a solution until one random weekend when a friend from another place whispered the word 'bakfiets' and we Googled it and suddenly-- Wow! This amazing machine. Look at these families on the web who were using these cargo bikes to transports kids and not just a single kid, but more than one kid. And the possibilities opened up to us-- possibilities that we didn't know existed before we heard the words 'bakfiets' and 'cargo bike' and saw those photos on the web and read the blogs of Travis, and Anne and Tim, Julian, and Matt.

So this is why LESS CAR MORE GO is important. It's about the possibilities. Other families who may not live in a place with a family bicycling culture can watch this film and think-- Well, maybe…. Maybe if that family does that, maybe we could. And it's also important for the families who already do ride their bikes as it's about community as wellMaybe that family also doesn't live in a place where others ride. They're the outliers-- maybe even the ones that other parents look at and even sometimes comment on "how crazy or dangerous they are to be bicycling with their children." Those bicycling families can look at this film and think-- Well, we aren't crazy. We aren't the only ones. There are other families like ours getting around their communities on bikes. As parents, we can feel unsure and we can hear criticism about our parenting choices pretty darn loudly and we can question ourselves and our choices. Seeing others out there riding with their kids feels good. This feeling of belonging is powerful.

Community. Possibilities. Belonging.

I hope the world gets to watch LESS CAR MORE GO. And I hope I do, too.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

LESS CAR MORE GO: a cargo bike documentary by Liz Canning

It's been three years in the making so I was most excited on Monday when Liz Canning made the Kickstarter campaign live to support her crowdsourced documentary LESS CAR MORE GO.

 Liz is the real deal, people. A documentary filmmaker, mama of twins, and cargo bike enthusiast, you can tell just how much vision and time it has taken for her to put this campaign together. Imagine the hours combing through all of our submitted video footage and coming up with an engaging, cohesive story about how cargo bikes make our lives better. She's got interesting history and interviews in there and a bunch of regular folks who just like riding their cargo bikes.

Liz has also been working on this project, all self-funded, for the past three years. It's time. It's time. $40,000 is an ambitious Kickstarter goal, however, it is quite modest when talking about a film budget. It's been exciting to see how the cargo bicycling community has rallied around to support this film but we needs others to help us out. Please consider giving. Also, consider sharing this campaign far and wide. 

Thanks so much and happy riding.

Monday, January 27, 2014

PechaKucha Presentation about Cargo Bikes

How do you express your deep love of cargo bikes with just 20 images that flash at 20 second intervals?

Late in August I made good on a promise to myself and presented at my city's PechaKucha night about my love of cargo bikes. A fellow happened to be filming it and he just posted it on video. There is a drop in the sound for two slides but it does pick up...

Shout-outs to Travis Wittwer, Elly Blue, and Emily Finch who are a part of my PechaKucha. Thank you so much!

Friday, July 26, 2013

New Haven Living article, "Cycling"

Not to totally self-promote but here is the recently published article in New Haven Living about cycling in New Haven that yes, does include my family.

Wondering about this, though-- Cargo bicyclists, do you agree with the author's description that cargo bikes are "an increasingly popular symbol of urban chic"?

I am all about utility (and comfort). Chic? Not so much....

While I am really thrilled that cycling is being featured in this magazine and that Elm City Cycling and Matt Feiner get the credit they so richly deserve for helping to make New Haven an ever-growing, bike-friendly city, it is hard for me to ignore the glaring editing error of misnaming The Devil's Gear Bike Shop early in the article.

The author mostly got my quotations correct. I can say with certainty that I've never actually uttered the words "Moreover" aloud in my everyday speech but we'll go with it. There is an incorrect preschool detail but it doesn't radically change the idea for anyone but me.  

Ultimately happy though that cycling gets more and more attention as folks figure out their transportation needs and desires. Hoping that more and more people see bicycling as a viable and do-able (even with kids!) option.

Forgive me for admitting that I wished they had used this photo instead in the article, but it is nice it's up on the web slideshow...

Credit: Kathleen Cei from "Cycling" in New Haven Living

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Rock to Rock 2013 -- Year Five

A much overdue post about the annual Rock to Rock ride in New Haven. It's the biggest local group ride and it's been fun to watch its growth over the past years.

You can see posts about our participation in past years herehere, and here.  I must admit that I am surprised to discover that I never blogged about last year's event even though we had friends from Brooklyn come up and join us.

This year was momentous because all three boys rode their own bikes for the entire ride. In the couple of years, we had hauled F on one of our cargo bikes, as well as his bike so he could ride the end himself, but he was ready to take on the whole route this go-around.

I must admit that I can find big group rides pretty nerve-wracking.  With my children, I seem to be on them constantly about riding smartly and predictably so that other riders know what to expect from them. However, I wonder if some of my nagging is simply because there are tons of other riders out there riding unpredictably, making less-than-smart choices, but it's only my own kids I can actually say something to! Unfair, I know...

Bicycling friends, who recently moved to Maine from New Haven, came down for the weekend to hang and participate.  I didn't end up making t-shirts this year but thought we should have some unifying theme going on for our crew.  Without any rhyme or reason, I end up settling on making fake mustaches. I merely mentioned it at one point, perhaps inspired by this bicyclist, and F latched on to the idea and wouldn't let it go.  So the night before the ride, we sat at the table making fake mustaches.

The result was pretty amusing.

No mustaches here, but had to include this snap of some of the cutest cargo around!