Setting Boundaries: How one family got out of the car and onto the bike
Where do your day-to-day activities take you–work, grocery store, gym, your kid’s school, coffee shop, restaurants? And how do you get to these places? Could you get there by bike? Does your family really need two cars to get where they need to go?
When Laura Webster asked herself these questions, she discovered that not only could she go where she needed to go by bike, she got there faster.
A few months ago, Laura and her family decided to create an imaginary perimeter around their house. This perimeter indicates a “no car zone” and the family gets to any location within that zone by bike or foot.
“It’s not perfect, but it made us think about where we go and how we get there,” said Laura.
Laura is a nurse and splits her time between an Edmonds hospital and one in downtown Seattle. Her husband works as a paramedic, often putting in 24-hour days. Their 11-year-old son attends school in Ballard. Commuting by bike was a conscious effort.
“The concept of using a bike as a method to get where you need to go is not something I grew up with, but I was inspired by a local family with two kids who started getting around by bike only,” explained Laura.
“I bike commuted when was in nursing school eons ago. For convenience, mainly. Parking was awful and the commute was short, so I just bought some rain gear and it was perfect,” said Laura. “But it has taken me a lot of time to figure out how to do it day-to-day in my everyday life with a family.”
Luckily, her son is “totally excited” about bicycling.
“He’s been on board from the start,” Laura said. “He rode to school pretty much every day last year, is active in the bike train to school and is excited to go riding with anyone who wants to.”
Wisdom from a bicycle-riding MOM
In transitioning to bicycling, Laura has made some pleasant discoveries:
- “It never rains both ways” : “For as much as Seattle is known for its rain, it’s not that bad.”
- It’s faster : “The most remarkable discovery was that it’s actually faster! Many people think they don’t have the time to bike around, but I found that without having to find parking, it’s faster. I leave at the same exact time and arrive at the same time every day.”
- It’s a good way to get a workout in : “I work as a nurse so getting a workout in while commuting on a day I work 12 hours is great,” she said. “It wouldn’t happen otherwise.”
- “[Bike commuting] is common" : “Ask people in bike shops or other bicyclists on the street. Lots of people do it and have great advice.”
- You don’t need expensive gear : “I got all my riding gear for $60. This includes a waterproof bag, a bike rack and a waterproof jacket,” Laura said. “Oh and I wear a flashy light harness – I aspire to not arrive at my work (a hospital) in a different method than I intended.”
- “I’m really enjoying it” : Laura admits that certain things did take some figuring out, such as the best routes to take, how to get to her son’s practice and to remember to bring lights. Laura says she’s uncomfortable biking with other people’s kids, but in general, bicycling has proven to be surprisingly fast, convenient and joyful, so much so that they may soon downsize to being a one-car family.
“We are contemplating selling one of our cars and we’re keeping a log of how much we drive. I have gone down to driving once or twice a week,” Laura said. “Bicycling has been so much easier than I thought it was going to be. It just doesn’t seem rational to have two vehicles.”
Curious about trying bike commuting for you and your family? Laura gave one simple tip: “Just try it. If you’re thinking it’s going to be hard or time-consuming, just try it –you’ll be surprised.”
Ready to give up your car? Donate it to Cascade!
Like the Websters, more and more families are finding ways to drive less. Some families decide they need just one car, others decide to go car-free all together. Last December, long-time Cascade members, Tim and Catherine Henning not only gave up their car, they donated it to Cascade, benefiting the Cascade Bicycle Club Education Foundation. Since starting our vehicle donation program, half a dozen families have donated their cars. You can too! Visit cascade.org/donate-your-vehicle to learn more.
Know a cyclist who deserves some special recognition? Nominate them for Cyclist of the Month! Send your ideas to Anne-Marije Rook at firstname.lastname@example.org.