Family Biking Spotlight: Philadelphia
It’s National Bike Month and we’re looking forward to the third annual Bike to School Day coming up this Wednesday. As we celebrate safe routes to school and smiling kids pedaling the neighborhood bike train, we know cycling takes us to many diverse destinations beyond the classroom. Thanks to incredible leaders in communities nationwide, the family biking movement is mobilizing parents to get their kids to school or soccer, pick up a gallon of milke, or just share quality time together — by bike.
This week, we’re spotlighting some of the local leaders who are making National Bike Month — and every month! — a family affair. Today’s post is a sneak preview of from our May/June issue of American Bicyclist, from Dena Driscoll of Kidical Mass Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia branch of Kidical Mass (KMPHL) was founded in August 2012. The organization was born out of a desire to feel safer on Philadelphia streets with my son but has grown into a lively movement of Philadelphia families who are working together through rides and events to promote safe shared streets for all ages.
Philadelphia is home to a supportive bicycling community but as parents of young children (most of our little riders are under 8 years old, with an average age of 3 years old) and often transportation cyclists we may not fit in to many of the group rides that take place.
KMPHL is a judgment-free zone where we ride bicycles as families at an average speed of 4mph and carry kid’s potties on our bikes.
We try to be as approachable as possible to all potential family bicyclists, as well as veterans. Our posters are bright and friendly and aren’t relegated to bike shops — we want to reach new audiences so they are placed up in family-friendly coffee shops and pubs, parks, grocery stores and children’s shops around dozens of neighborhoods. We reach out to parents groups through Facebook and e-mail chains, too.
The start and finish locations of our rides are family friendly with amenities nearby that families need, like bathrooms, food, parking for cargo bikes and trailers, and a space for children to run around and burn off some energy. In the summer, we aim for sprinkle parks; in the winter indoor locations like cafes and IKEA — supporting local businesses wherever we go. Our rides regularly start a bit after the posted time, accommodating the ever-late parents we all swore we would not become!
KMPHL works hard to make bicycling with kids as easy as possible, because once you have kids nothing seems easy anymore! We not only host monthly rides that give families the opportunity to get comfortable on city streets but also organize events at shops, so we can get families the equipment they need. Our Facebook group is also home to a second-hand market for outgrown equipment.
KMPHL is literally a growing movement (babies are born all the time!) so we continue to strive to keep bicycling a normal part of families’ lives. The more family bicyclists on the street the more positivity we can generate towards bicycling here.
After all, who can dislike a smiling kid on a bike?!
Photo of Kidical Mass PHL by James G. Mundie