Lessons Learned from Biking in Vienna

I’ve been on a crusade to reduce the amount of stuff we rely on each day in our lives. Lately I feel like I’m drowning in toys, papers, clothes and more. Some people will say life with a toddler will do that – despite best efforts, the toys are always present, spilling  their (usually) plastic-from-China colors onto your hardwood floors.

Although Drew and I each drive a hybrid, we still each have a car. And while the price of gas soars and leaves me grumbling at the pump, I am perhaps more concerned at the messages I am teaching my Ladybug. For one, that it is OK to rely on countries far away to get me around my own neighborhood. And that it’s acceptable to drive a mile or so down the road whenever we’d like, with no care as to how we impact our local habitat. Moreover, just today I read research finding that kids who are constantly driven around have less of an understanding of their surroundings and even are more scared of where they live. (The research also found that while 71% of surveyed parents had walked or biked to school when they were kids, only 18% of their children do so. Have you seen the line up of cars at a local elementary schools lately? Food for thought.)

So I put a stake in the ground. And I did it with a bicycle. 

Bug in bike, with friend Lucy

In March we switched Bug’s child care, and she’s now much closer to home. In fact, just one mile away. I Freecycled an old bike trailer I got for free, and upgraded to a new Burley trailer – one I felt confident would not detach and roll my daughter into rush hour traffic on Maple Avenue.

I’ve been biking Bug to and from child care several times a week since early April. Sometimes it’s a two-mile round trip for me, sometimes four. I occasionally walk, too. In the spirit of May being National Bike Month, here’s what I’ve learned about biking, community and life in the last five weeks:

  • There are people in Vienna who care about having biking as a viable transit option. The town just installed some new bike racks in the Giant shopping center on Maple. Although biking might not be getting a boost in funding any time soon, people are aware that it’s a local desire and need: the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling and Washington Area Bicyclist Association are a resource for safe biking in our area. My hubby  also contributes to safer biking routes, thanks to the Town’s Transportation Safety Commission and Bicycle Advisory Committee. Go Drew!
  • Kids can bike, too. Really. Usually there is a little persuasion needed to get Bug into her trailer. Looking ahead, though, Drew got her a “balance bike”, from Spokes Etc, for her 2nd birthday. She’s not riding it yet, but maybe one day she’ll bike to school. If your kid is able, Wednesday, May 9 is National Bike to School Day. Encourage your kiddo to take a ride!
  • Bikes will take over the world.  Sunday, May 13 is Bike DC, with car-free roads open just to bikes throughout DC and Arlington! May 14 – 18 is Bike to Work Week, with Bike to Work Day on Friday.
  • Being active feels good. I’m back with Lifetime Fitness. I missed the fitness classes there, and want to keep the strength I worked so hard to build. Biking to and from child care, and elsewhere around town, compliments my gym time and gets me outdoors! So many people tell me how cool it is that I’m biking – especially other parents at child care. I’ll tell you what the secret is: commitment. I have to commit the time to bike and protect it like a warrior. Daily new priorities battle for my time, but then I remember how fun it is to just get on a bike and GO. (I also realize what a luxury it is to choose to bike instead of drive.)
I hope I’m teaching Bug that you can go your own way, break convention and live how you want to live. Yes, that’s really a lesson I’ve learned from riding my bicycle.
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6 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from Biking in Vienna

  1. I love this! And I love that you recognize that you have to commit to it… Guess what, I just bought a bike YESTERDAY! We’re on the same page :)

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  2. Wow, THIS is impressive – look at all the kids walking, biking and scooting to school!
    http://vienna.patch.com/articles/bike-walk-challenge-day-four

    THIS is not impressive: while I read in Patch that Vienna’s Red Mango would give a 10% discount to those who bike to the store in search of cold creations, when Drew, Bug and I did so this weekend we were told we needed a coupon for such a discount. Bummer. Still, we were not deterred from spending $17 on fro-yo for the three of us.

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  3. I grew up in Europe and they bike everywhere for everything. I was just there for 10 days (without three kids – yippeee!). Upon my return my two kids and I biked to Giant for our groceries one day. Appreciated the new bike racks, it was fun for us all. This was before it got hot!

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