Special gravel coverage

Family biking skills on display at ‘Fiets of Parenthood’

Posted by on September 17th, 2012 at 10:42 am

Fiets of Parenthood

At the Fiets of Parenthood event, Emily Finch and her seven kids of cargo, hit the teeter-totter ramp with gusto.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The third annual Fiets of Parenthood event, hosted by Clever Cycles in front of their southeast Portland store yesterday, was a perfect opportunity for parents and kids to show off their riding skills, meet other biking families, and test ride the latest bikes. It’s a natural event for Clever Cycles, the local shop that has played a huge role in ushering in Portland’s family biking era by importing iconic Dutch “bakfiets” family cargo bikes back in 2007.

The event Sunday had that fun and chaotic feel of a festival. A large section of SE 9th and Clay was closed off and there were tons of kids scuttling around on bikes, on foot, and of course, upon various types of kid-carrying bicycles. The little ones worked at the craft station, zipped around on their bikes, played in the Dutchtub mini-pool, and sucked up various vendors’ treats…

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The event brought out all types of family bikes. Here’s a sampling…

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The forthcoming, Portland-made “Cascade Flyer” midtail by Kinn Bikes.
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The main event was an individually timed race around a short obstacle course set up to test city-specific cycling skills.

Kids large and small tore through the course, showing their ability to make sharp turns, go down a curb, hit a teeter-totter ramp, and use a jousting lance. Yes, jousting. To gain maximum time bonuses, riders had to grab a long wooden stick then spear three hoops. The kids were very impressive. From a little tyke on a balance bike, to older kids who got some nice air of the ramp, it’s clear that the coming generation of Portland riders have learned a lot by watching mom and dad all these years…

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Speaking of mom and dad, there was also a competition for the parents. To make the course more life-like, the organizers added two cargo stops — one to pick up toys, the other to pick up three bags of groceries. Adults were required to carry at least one child on their bike, and special time bonuses were given with each additional child. There was quite a spectrum of kid capacity on display. On one end you had the guy who completed the course (kid, cargo and all!) with a Brompton folding bike — and on the other you had none other than our local bike celebrity Emily Finch, who completed the course while carrying seven — yes seven — kids along with her. Check out the action…

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This event was just the latest example that family biking has reached an exciting tipping point here in Portland. From our “Dutch bike invasion” a few years ago, to the ubiquity of Xtracycles and other long-tail bikes, to the flourishing of our local cargo bike culture and the massive amounts of families that show up when the streets close to cars during Sunday Parkways — parents and kids riding together is quickly becoming the new normal in Portland.

More photos in the gallery.

*Special thanks on this event goes out to Travis Wittwer of TransportLAND.org.

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • 9watts September 17, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Great photos!

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  • 9watts September 17, 2012 at 10:55 am

    I think the makers of the Follow-Me tandem contraption should pay Emily for the R&D and for the free (world-wide) advertising she’s giving their product.

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  • SilkySlim September 17, 2012 at 11:01 am

    I am embarrassed that I used to brag about carrying my groceries by bike.

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  • Dave September 17, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Whats up with all the people not wearing helmets?

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    • 9watts September 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      The short answer is they are not wearing helmets.
      Do you feel the same way about helmetless people in cars?

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    • Dan Kaufman September 17, 2012 at 12:34 pm

      Riding a bicycle at less that 12mph on a closed street is not inherently dangerous.

      Disagree? Then I hope you are on the jogging blogs promoting helmets.

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      • KYouell September 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm

        I assumed Dave’s comment was sarcastic.

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        • JNE September 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm

          Love this event . . . but I assumed Dave was just wondering why an ounce of prevention isn’t worth a pound of cure.

          I’ve had a fall at less than 12mph where I slapped my head on the asphalt . . . and I was wearing a helmet thank goodness. I’ve had religion ever since.

          I don’t mean to hate on anyone’s “freedom” — but it sure would have sucked at this event if a helmetless rider had gone home with a traumatic brain injury.

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          • Alex Reed September 17, 2012 at 5:12 pm

            It would have been a freak accident for an adult to get a traumatic brain injury at this event. That’s why not every adult was wearing a helmet at it. I don’t wear my helmet at fun runs, or walking to the bus, or driving to Bend, even though all of those are associated with a theoretical percentage probability of sustaining a traumatic brain injury.

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          • Brrr September 19, 2012 at 2:36 am

            JNE: You probably hit your head *because* you were wearing a helmet. They take up a lot more space than you might think.

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        • Dave September 19, 2012 at 11:53 am

          I was not being sarcastic. I know the riding was not dangerous. But as a Parent, I think Parents should wear helmets 100% of the time to set an example. If you don’t your kids wont; if you do, your kids will. If this was not a family/parent kind of thing I would not have even commented. I am often tempted not to wear one around the ‘hood, but I don’t want my son to think that’s OK. Just my .02

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          • Brrr September 19, 2012 at 6:32 pm

            So what you’re saying is, if I don’t want my kids to get brainwashed by pro-helmet propaganda, it’s important for them not to ever see me wearing a helmet.

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    • Erik Sandblom September 22, 2012 at 10:22 pm

      Dave, cycling is healthy. In fact it’s so healthy that regular cyclists live longer. So the important thing is that people cycle as much as possible, bareheaded or not. For sources see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_helmet#Health_benefits_of_cycling

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  • daisy September 17, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Love these! I read about this on Twitter but had no idea. Thanks so much for these photos, Jon. The joy is contagious.

    By the way, I noticed all of the solo kid bikers appeared to be little boys. Is that just a coincidence? Were there hotrodding little girl bikers as well?

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    • emily g September 19, 2012 at 11:17 am

      I did see two girls compete but it was mostly boys…seemed to be more of a coincidence than by design.

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  • Rob Bushill September 17, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Looks a great event, great to see products now available all over the world being used in ways that belie their sensible nature..nice work Todd.
    I hope the UK readers will come and try them for themselves now that they see them ridden so enthusiastically over the pond.

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    • Todd September 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      Hardly my work, Rob! I doubt I did even 2% of the total. This year Travis Wittwer, I think, deserves more credit than any other single person.

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  • Steve B. September 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    How inspiring!

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  • jena September 17, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    seriously… every single one of you is a complete badass. if your kids are in it, I have hope for the future.

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  • Ash L September 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Where did Emily get that fabulous kid’s Gazelle?

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  • Chris September 17, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Great pics Jonathan! It’s so great to see that many families participating in the event. Every time I see news items like this, I marvel at how wonderful it is to live in Portland.

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  • Alan 1.0 September 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    My favorite photo is the last one: Dad Catching Air with the Family. The expressions on everyone’s faces are just perfect! But my vote for the best “pack ’em in there” in the spirit of the event is the Mom with four passengers on her green Townie. Great load! Oh…and the faces of Dad & Kid on the blue Mundo, and the laundry basket on Emily’s rig, and the tyke snoozing in the trike basket…great coverage, thanks Jonathan!

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  • Bike Bend September 17, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    I am totally stoked with the Family Fiets and can only dream that Bend might some day have an actual urban riding scene even slightly close to Puddletown’s. (It’s true we’ve got the bicycle racing thing down pretty good here in Central Oregon and I’m supportive of that but some diversity would be welcomed.)

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  • erikbeng September 18, 2012 at 9:41 am

    The helmet thing: it’s annoying that the kids are wearing helmets and the parents are not…modelling behavior? Beyond that, looks like a fun and crazy event.

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    • tim September 18, 2012 at 11:31 am

      I agree, Erik. If it wasn’t a law for kids to wear them, then we’d see a lot of kids also not wearing them, and then it would be more consistently inconsistent, which would probably be less annoying. Or more. Wait, what exactly is annoying? When you see parents Doing It Wrong? What kind of behavior do you model when you drive in cities, with or without a helmet? Warning: lots of people doing it wrong: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=swqaAIkGtpA#!

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  • Ken September 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Given the front-heavy loading of Emily’s school bus, I am relieved that the little girl hind-most didn’t run into the kicked up blunt end of the teeter totter.

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  • Ted Buehler September 18, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Top pic should win a prize somewhere. Perfect panning (crisp shadow on blurred pavement), prefect framing, perfect moment, perfect subject.

    This looks like it was lots more fun than the Pagan Festival at Oaks Park…

    Ted Buehler

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  • David September 28, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Alex Reed
    It would have been a freak accident for an adult to get a traumatic brain injury at this event. That’s why not every adult was wearing a helmet at it. I don’t wear my helmet at fun runs, or walking to the bus, or driving to Bend, even though all of those are associated with a theoretical percentage probability of sustaining a traumatic brain injury.

    Funny how some people who never had accidents feel entitled to act as advocates for not wearing protection. There was this guy once, a strong opponent of wearing your seat belt, well he crashed, got thrown out of the car and was the only one killed among 3 passengers.

    JNE: You probably hit your head *because* you were wearing a helmet. They take up a lot more space than you might think.

    Asphalt is a lot harder than you might think. I fell at about 12 mph, aided by a thin patch of sand. Broke my hand trying to catch my fall – don’t think you’ll be any different, it happens much faster and harder than you imagine. Hit my head on the pavement, *without* a helmet, and suffered a second degree concussion, 10-min blackout during which I was told I crawled back up on my fours and made my way to the sidewalk, helped by a few good samaritans which I thanked when I regained consciousness and realized what had happened.

    All your memories, skills, personality, all of your *life* is in your head, protect it.

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  • Simply Bike October 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Awesome!! This is why I wish I lived in PDX!


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  • Koula from Bike Jax May 15, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    This is so inspiring! We gotta get these going all over the US.

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  • Chris Anderson July 30, 2013 at 9:21 am

    The 2013 event will be on August 4th at 1pm at the Art Museum. http://fietsofparenthoodpdx.wordpress.com/

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  • Mark Slate April 9, 2014 at 12:25 am

    Helmets. Felt compelled to write. For years I went without. Well meaning people asked me to wear one. What got me to do it is considering how bad I would feel if someone had to wipe drool off my chin regularly. Not to say that I am a 100% helmet wearer, only that they are generally a good choice. Beware of visors and low branches on trail though.

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