Family Biking Spotlight: D.C. Biking Dad
Here in the nation’s capital, we’re lucky to have a passionate and skilled leader behind the local chapter of Kidical Mass. Megan Odett, who serves as the member services coordinator for the Alliance for Biking & Walking, not only arrives to the office on her Yuba after making a school run herself, but is also a master organizer of events like the ABCs of Family Biking on the weekend.
How long have you been biking?
For a very long time — 40+ years. Wherever I am, I try to bike. For me, it’s one of the most freeing feelings. My bike, a rental bike, someone else’s bike, they’re all fine for me. As a kid in New Jersey, I biked a lot.
When did you start biking with your daughter?
We started biking together last year, when she was 3 years old.
Why did you start biking with your daughter?
I love biking. I bike a lot in the city. As our distance from school is not that far, biking was a natural option. My wife gave me a kid bike seat one Christmas, but by the time spring rolled around our daughter was too big for it. Another option had to be found. I looked at every option possible. I decided on the Adam’s Trailer with the seat back option. It allowed me to ride my bike, and have her involved in the ride as well.
What’s your favorite place in DC to bike together?
I love our Sunday rides in Rock Creek Park. On Sunday the road is closed to cars, so it’s great. We ride from the center of Columbia Heights to East-West Freeway. We spend a bit of time at the playground up there and then head back.
How often do you bike to school together?
I’m a fair weather biker. In spring and fall we ride about four days out of five to school and back. Our commute, by bike or car, is only six minutes. Yes, either way it takes exactly the same amount of time.
What do you like about biking to school with your daughter?
It’s our time. She really likes being on the bike. On days when we take the car, she’ll say, “But I want to take the bike!” On the trailer bike she has to pedal and hold onto the handlebars. This made learning to ride her own bike a lot easier. In one weekend, she learned how to ride without training wheels.
What would help you bike more with her?
A dedicated cycle track from our home in Columbia Heights to school. Or, having all days be sunny when we ride! Washington, D.C. is getting better every day in integrating bike travel as a common way of life.
What do you like least about biking with your daughter?
My least favorite thing is the vulnerability factor. No matter how safe I ride, we’re largely at the mercy of someone else’s actions.
Do you have any tips or suggestions for families who are thinking of biking to school together?
Pick the bike that you like riding with your child. It’s your choice. Then, add on bells, music, streamers, and stickers to make it your own personal ride. Ride your route to school by yourself first, both to and from, as close to the actual ride hours as possible. Get a sense of the traffic you’ll encounter. Then, on your first ride, allow extra time for getting your child ready.