Why We Bike Everywhere as a Family And You Can Too

I was inspired to try an electric bike after seeing other parents using them when dropping their kids off at school. Not only is it easy to do with two toddlers in tow, it's enjoyable and better for the planet.

mother holding kids near family bike
Photo: Courtesy of the Tomky Family

All of my adult life, I’ve tried to maintain a lifestyle that didn’t force me to depend on cars, but the birth of my second child made me feel as though I were doomed to drive. I had nightmares about minivans. My family had one car, but I balked at buying a second. Then one day I watched several carless parents drop their kids at the elementary school without breaking a sweat, and I realized they were riding e-bikes, as in electric. I knew I needed one.

A motor that kicks in when I pedal turns Seattle’s tall hills into a leisurely cruise. Thanks to lots of storage pockets on either side of the chassis, carrying two toddlers and all their accoutrements is no harder than loading it all into a car—and a whole lot more enjoyable. In our city’s horrific traffic, biking is often faster than driving, and I’m far more willing to brave the crowds at events (or even the local kiddie pool) without having to find parking within toddling distance.

I chose my bike, the Tern GSD, because it fit two kids in tandem seats on a standard-length bike—no contraptions being pushed in front or pulled behind me, which felt unstable when I test-rode. The biggest downside was the price: about $5,000. Expensive for a bike, yes but far cheaper than a car and an utter bargain for my sanity.

My kids squeal as we go over speed bumps, and I always sport a giant grin at red lights. I know a bike looks silly loaded down with two bobbleheading kids in helmets (and often rain ponchos), plus enormous saddlebags filled with groceries and a stroller. But when I get the green light and begin to move my nonminivan, with the electric assist helping me pedal 400 pounds of people and stuff up the hill to my house, it doesn’t feel silly; it feels brilliant.

The only struggle has been the judgment I’ve gotten from other parents, often delivered in passive-aggressive fashion: “That’s so great, but I could never do it because I would worry too much about little Boo-Boo’s safety.” I care about my kids’ safety, too (reflective tape everywhere!)—and I also care about the state of the world they’ll live in.

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's April 2020 issue as “Think Big for Your Family.”

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