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As talk show appearance looms, thoughts on the Emily Finch phenomenon

Posted by on December 5th, 2012 at 11:38 am

Emily Finch pedaling talk show host Ricki Lake
during a recent trip to L.A.
(Photo: The New Ricki Lake Show)

When I first saw Emily Finch with her six kids in tow at a local farmer’s market this past summer, I had no idea she would become a bona fide bike celebrity before the year was out. But that’s exactly what has happened.

This Friday night, Finch is hosting a viewing party at Velo Cult Bike Shop (1969 NE 42nd Ave) for her recent appearance on The New Ricki Lake Show. Where Emily will show up next is anyone’s guess; but there’s no guesswork about how far her story has traveled and how many people she has already inspired.

Prior to my profile on Emily, the most popular stories of the 8,500 or so stories posted on the BikePortland Front Page were recaps and photos of the World Naked Bike Ride. Now I’m very pleased to report that Emily’s story is easily the most widely read story in the history of this site. I won’t bore you with stats, but suffice it to say that her story is known far and wide.

I heard from a man named Iain Cummings who wrote me from Gold Coast, Australia. He was eager to share photos of his family getting along by bike (see below). “It’s great to see other people out there doing great things on bikes,” he wrote.

Closer to home, I heard from Fabi Zawalski who lives in a suburb of Portland. “I was very excited to see her story!” Fabi shared. She and her friend (below) have started a blog to encourage other mom’s and dad’s that, “Family riding doesn’t have to be limited to the East side.”

And Emily’s story was picked up by media all over the globe. From to the Today Show blog here in the states, to many international news sites (several UK news agencies wanted to purchase exclusive rights to the story), everyone was equally amazed by her exploits and attitude.

What’s been the most fun is how Emily has handled all the attention. Far from becoming annoyed or shying away from it all, she has embraced her new public profile with a vigor, confidence and authenticity unlike anyone I’ve ever met. Her Twitter profile reads: “Catholic school girl turned Badass Bakfiets Babe. Yeah, I have six kids. Get over it.” She traveled to Washington D.C. to be a guest speaker at the inaugural National Women’s Bicycling Summit and proceeded to “bring the house down” with her presentation.

Friday’s episode of The New Ricki Lake Show is on “Extreme Lives.” Emily, who is shown in a preview of the episode pedaling around the studio backlot with Ricki Lake inside the cargo bin, will appear along with an extreme eater, Steve-O from Jackass, and others. The show refers to Emily as, “an Oregon mother of six who’s redefining the term ‘Going Green.'”

As we all know, Emily’s story isn’t about being eco-friendly. It’s about a lady who loves her bike, doesn’t drive a car, and just happens to have six kids.

Come meet Emily, her family, and a few hundred of her new friends at Velo Cult on Friday night. And of course, kids are welcome.

Please support BikePortland.

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

  • Bike-Max-Bike December 5, 2012 at 11:55 am

    “As we all know, Emily’s story isn’t about being eco-friendly.”

    And that sums up a key part of the story we’ve never been allowed to discuss on BP. Don’t worry, it’s not well covered by other news outlets either. The lens of sustainability was not built to observe this particular elephant in the room.

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    • Emily Finch December 5, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      I have no problem discussing this on BP, Bike-Max-Bike, and this is a good time for me, as I’m currently eating imported raw fish from an oil-powered conveyor belt and my many, many children are quiet and happy. Let’s go! Tell me what you really think of me! If it hurts too bad I’ll just switch out my water for hard liquor. Plus, I have my big ass sound system along if I get carried away and want to dance on the table.

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      • Velvetackbar December 5, 2012 at 12:49 pm

        Popping some corn and setting back to watch the fireworks.

        “This is going to be better than the VP debate!”

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      • Brian December 5, 2012 at 12:53 pm

        To be sure the Ricki segment name doesn’t fit exactly how you live your life and the only true way to reduce greenhouse gasses is to curb population growth.
        That said it is your prerogative to have as many kids as you like but when you reach a baker’s dozen I strongly urge you to think about birth control unless your kids are as entertaining as you, in which case keep poppin the out girl.
        A fan.

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        • Brian December 5, 2012 at 12:54 pm

          “poppin them out”

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          • Emily Finch December 5, 2012 at 7:07 pm

            Hey, boys.
            They’re MY ovaries.
            I’ll party if I want to.

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            • Alan 1.0 December 6, 2012 at 12:46 pm

              Rock on Emily (you have me ROFL!) but your right to swing your ovaries ends just where the other man’s nose begins. Errr, umm, maybe I should rephrase that…

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            • Brian December 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm

              As I said, Emily, I am a fan. Surely it is your choice. There is a twitter discussion going on right now with one of your friends — 15 kids is not uncommon in her area.

              I’m a moderate and have no kids. I see what my neighbors purchase for their kids — mountains and mountains of waste products. It keeps the economy going.

              I’ve been following your story and admire you for your direction. My comments have nothing to do with the children you have. They are here, I’m sure you are a great mom. From your profile you said your dad was the impetus for getting on the bike, the conversation having to do with oil dependency and resource management.

              Surely you would agree that there is an upper limit to the number of kids a set of parents should have? It’s your uterus, party if you want, but the message your are now sending is: personal choice is more important than the global ecosystem.

              I write this sitting in 67 degree Bay Area weather and it’s friggin December. It’s been summer for 8 months.

              Now I’m going to watch you on Ricki Lake.

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    • KYouell December 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      I’m going to say this one more time. You are trying to have a discussion about how many children people SHOULD be allowed to have inside the context of a story about children that are ALREADY HERE. The problem with your disingenuous concern is that you are whining about other people’s reproductive freedom (none of your business) and not admitting that you are insulting the majority of her children (who, if you were in charge, would not be alive). The elephant in the room is that the people who feel that Emily’s uterus is any of their business don’t have the guts to come out and say which of her 6 children should not be allowed to live any longer. THAT is the part of the story that the Nosy Nellies are ignoring in their comments. It’s cruel beyond comprehension, which I suppose is why it’s not mentioned. But that doesn’t make it any less true that if you want to whine about her having too many kids then you should finish your sentence and say who doesn’t get to stay.

      Now, could we please talk about biking, maybe how nice it is that something so enjoyable is a greener choice than driving? If you want to convince someone that having children is bad for the planet, maybe a story that is so loved by parents of children of all quantities and abilities is not a smart place to try to gain converts.

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      • Sunny December 5, 2012 at 3:59 pm


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    • Esther December 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      Too bad Bike-Max-Bike would rather harass people in his/her extended community, specifically Emily, who is after all an outlier (having 6 children is pretty rare in the US all things told)– rather than focussing on the ACTUAL problems of population growth: namely, lack of access to birth control, abortion, education and equal pay for women so that we can make the right choice for ourselves & our families. Bike-Max-Bike, why don’t you use this time for something productive rather than complain about something that, after all, is very cruel and mean towards SIX LIVING HUMAN BEINGS? (Not counting Emily or her husband here.)

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      • Sunny December 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm

        Catholics don’t like abortion. That’s like killing a living person. Like youth in Asia — China to be specific.

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        • Emily Finch December 5, 2012 at 7:12 pm

          Youth in Asia? So THAT’s what I ran over on Ankeny. Dammit.

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    • JRB December 5, 2012 at 3:05 pm

      As someone who raised the population issue when the first story regarding Emily was posted, I disagree that discussion of that topic was squelched. A careful rereading of the 450+ comments shows that while Jonathan was initially concerned that things might get out of hand, he did decide to allow the discussion to proceed. I said all I felt compelled to say at that time and don’t see any benefit in reiterating them now. Some people agreed with me, most didn’t. Celebrating those things that are awesome about Emily doesn’t mean I or anyone else thinks that people should emulate everything about her. Time to move on.

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    • Allan Folz December 5, 2012 at 3:54 pm

      Do you argue against open borders and ‘paths to citizenship’ too?

      Americans are the biggest energy hogs on the planet. As far as sustainability, it makes no difference if they are here illegally from Guatemala or the result of free choice from married adults. But if you have to prioritize solutions, and don’t we always, where do you choose to start?

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    • annefi December 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm

      I don’t get what you’re saying. Can you be more specific?

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    • annefi December 5, 2012 at 4:01 pm

      What’s the elephant in the room?

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  • 9watts December 5, 2012 at 11:57 am
  • Dave December 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    She’s a better type of cycing celebrity than Lance Pharmstrong for sure!

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    • Andrew K December 5, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      If I had a drink in my hand I would certainly toast to that!

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    • A.K. December 5, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      But imagine how many more kids she could bike around if she was on his doping regiment! 20! 30! Maybe more!! Up the Pyrenees!

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    • Pete December 9, 2012 at 11:33 pm

      Good one! You’ll like the poster in my office:

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  • nuovorecord December 5, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    To me, Emily’s story represents the ultimate success of Portland’s efforts to create a multi-modal transportation system. She’s schlepping her kids around by bike not because she was coerced or shamed into it; it’s her choice. And, it’s a choice she has because she chose to live in a part of town that gives her that choice.

    As we create more opportunities for families like Emily’s to chose to ride, rather than drive, you’ll see more stories like hers. We’ve created generations of Americans who know nothing but the car for their transportation needs. Now we’re seeing how people in the 21st Century will travel. Less by car; more by the mode of their choice, bike, bus, foot.

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  • Velvetackbar December 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    To be sure the Ricki segment name doesn’t fit exactly how you live your life and the only true way to reduce greenhouse gasses is to curb population growth.

    Um…I always thought that eating locally, driving less (or not at all) and being mindful of consumption was the best way to reduce greenhouse gasses, but I guess a good solid sterilization program would work.

    I think that eating locally/driving less/consumption route could be a little more popular than a 1 child policy or zpg.

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    • Brian December 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm

      Popularity has nothing to do with emission levels.

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      • 9watts December 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm

        The social marketing folks might disagree with you 🙂

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      • q`Tzal December 5, 2012 at 8:09 pm

        So much innuendo, so little time…

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    • JRB December 5, 2012 at 3:17 pm

      Forgive me if I am oversimplying your comment, but the analysis of how your food consumption affects your carbon footprint shouldn’t end with whether your food is locally sourced or not. For some foods, the amount of fossil fuel involved in moving them across distance is not significant versus what may be required to preserve them at the source. For example there is one study that shows that eating locally grown apples in Germany during the winter produces more carbon than importing fresh picked apples from New Zealand because the fuel consumption required to preserve one apple through refrigeration is greater than transporting one fresh apple from New Zealand by ocean freighter.

      If an individual wishes to reduce their footprint through what they eat, its not as simple a question as whether your food is locally sourced or not. People may not be able to make much of a reduction in their footprint through diet, except for minimizing or eliminating meat consumption. The area where people can get the most bang for their buck is through their housing and how they choose to move themselves around.

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      • Velvetackbar December 5, 2012 at 3:26 pm

        that makes sense. Personally, i eat what is in season locally, FIRST, then regionally, then frozen, veggie wise. Meat-wise, I choose local first and foremost.

        and I am not by any means wealthy.

        I just decided that this kind of food TASTES better.

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    • Allan Folz December 5, 2012 at 4:01 pm

      What about immigration? Is that acceptable to bring up?

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      • Pete December 9, 2012 at 11:52 pm

        It depends… did they get here by bike?

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  • Racer X December 5, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Go Emily go!

    Though it is sad that Lake’s director/ producer decided to flavor this discussion by defining it as “extreme” and lumping it in with the Jackass folk. I react the same way each time a tv / print reporter covers “super” commuters who drive ~3 hours each way a day.

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    • Paul Souders December 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      Yeah, the “extreme” angle is not so cool.

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      • Shetha December 6, 2012 at 11:12 am

        Yeah my husband made a good point. Those other guests? If no one was looking, would they still be doing what they do? Because Emily is not just things for the attention. Even when no one is looking, she’s still her badass self.

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  • SK December 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    My American Idol.

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  • Ethan December 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    The sniping of the righteous (for that is what we’re dealing with here) is at turns sad and amusing. In the pantheon of sustainability, any typical American family (mine included) will score very badly. Most of us have some (or many) contradictions along with whatever we’re most proud of. My family uses cargo bikes to get around a good deal but we still regularly drive a van big enough for Emily’s entire family (and I have tested this with the actual Finch children) though we have just one child. There’s plenty of targets for the stone throwers, probably including themselves (it works, just throw it straight up!)

    Emily’s biography is clear as day about how she came to find herself making greener/healthier choices AFTER having her six children. It’s fair to make an observation about it in the context of discussing the spectacle of big family bike transportation, but she does not need to apologize. I’d wager most people with that many kids would be even less likely to go human powered, making what she has done all the more noteworthy. I will drink to that (this Friday in fact).

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    • Dave December 6, 2012 at 10:21 am

      “If you need someone to blame, throw a rock in the air, you’ll hit someone guilty.”

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  • Doug G. December 5, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I don’t understand criticizing Emily Finch on the grounds that having six kids has a negative impact on the environment. Through a narrow lens, maybe. But environmental choices are the sum of many parts.

    How many childless couples live in McMansions and drive SUVs? Surely they have a bigger impact on the environment than Finch, no? I know someone who loves his Prius so much that he trades up for a new model every year! How green of him! And what about a person who doesn’t own a car and instead bikes or walks everywhere, but flies every weekend to a ski house in Utah?

    If Emily Finch inspires families of any size to go car-free, then she’ll more than offset her “impact” on the environment. My guess is she’s already inspired more than enough people to accomplish that. She is a fantastic and enthusiastic ambassador for safe streets and sustainability. She could have two dozen kids and I’d still say the same thing.

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    • Help December 7, 2012 at 10:28 am

      “How many childless couples live in McMansions and drive SUVs? Surely they have a bigger impact on the environment than Finch, no?”

      Uh, no. Just flat out wrong. Her six kids will have a far greater impact on the environment than anything a childless couple could ever possibly do.

      Her personal story is fantastic and I’m amazed that she is able to live without a vehicle. However, from her personal environmental standpoint, it’s the rough equivalent of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

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      • KYouell December 7, 2012 at 10:40 am

        Really? What about the economy of scale? What about the fact that those statistics on the “cost” of children assume that they are being driven around in cars? I don’t buy this without some serious digging into the data and looking at how much of it doesn’t apply to Emily’s family. (Hat tip to Katie Proctor for getting me thinking about this today.)

        Besides, if it is just arranging deck chairs on the Titanic, I’m glad I’m riding around with Emily as she entertains us with her wonderful personality and loud music. If we’re so doomed, we should be making the best of it.

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        • Help December 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm

          I don’t think this takes a lot of rocket science to figure out. How many children are her children going to have? And then those children? Are we supposed to believe that everyone one of them are going to live the life the Emily has chosen?

          Again, it’s a great story. But at the end of the day, she will do more over the course of her lifetime to hurt the environment than just about anyone else out there. I don’t think that’s a crime, nor do I think this makes her a bad person. Just as I don’t think its a crime, nor does it make you a bad person to ride an SUV 100 miles a day.

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  • Rol December 5, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    All the curiosity and attention being paid, and the fact that it’s (sort of annoyingly) branded as “extreme,” really says one thing: This stuff is not known to America. America is not well-informed about it. Right? Because if you’ve been at this a while, you know that doing things by bike, including hauling kids & cargo, is very much a solved problem. Nothing against Ms. Finch – she has taken it to an extreme I’d never seen before, just by the sheer size of the family, so “extreme” actually does fit. But if you look close, what she’s doing is made up of a series of known solutions to known problems. Bakfietseseses. Tag-alongs, Trailgators, tow-bars… things of that nature. Trailers. Or (gasp) rigging something up yourself, like the Aussie guy’s dog-cage trailer. And of course, the doing of actual, like, work, you know like with your body and stuff. These are concepts apparently so alien to mainstream America that it causes a major stir. I guess it frustrates me a little, to be reminded that “out there” in America’s vast hinterlands, there’s no room between all the car commercials and BS on TV, to tell people about things I consider obvious. Someone has to string together 8 kids, 6 bikes and the kitchen sink, to get air time. I’m not sure if I’m making any sense here or not. Anyway I’m glad they’ll at least be getting the message now. If it weren’t packaged as being so “extreme” (i.e. so “other”), people might even look into it for themselves. But if it’s NOT extreme, it doesn’t get air time. Bit of a Catch-22, wouldn’t you say? I think maybe I just need to say F___ CORPORATE MEDIA and be done. Apologies/thanks for your time.

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    • Paul Souders December 5, 2012 at 2:35 pm

      “doing things by bike, including hauling kids & cargo, is very much a solved problem.”


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      • 9watts December 5, 2012 at 2:46 pm

        Yes – and no.
        Solved in the sense of ‘some folks have figured out how to do this, even some white folks in the US.’
        But not solved in the sense of ‘most people could imagine themselves doing this; my middle class friends do this; it’s no big deal.’

        Figuring it out, doing it is huge. But it is not the biggest hurdle.
        Scaling it up, identifying and then figuring out how to overcome cultural, psychological, class hurdles, habits, fears, is no trivial thing. Emily’s rapid ascendancy to Bakfiets-rock-star is an impressive thing to behold, and for all I know the best social marketing we could have ever imagined.

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  • Sarah December 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Being on a bike is much like being exposed through “celebrity”. Out in the open for all to judge is simply not possible behind the 2K pounds of metal and glass or the seemingly anonymity of the internet.
    The truth is we are all vulnerable and if you attack my family, or Emily’s on the street or on an internet comment board you are eroding away the very possibilities for positive and lasting change for our families, communities and ultimately our planet.
    I am so thankful for Emily and the band of bad ass biking mother’s out there that brave the exposure to all of the elements and keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible by bike.
    With love.

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  • Jeremy December 5, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I live right around the corner from Emily and her family and everyday when I ride by her house and see the family of bikes parked out front it puts a big smile on my face.

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  • Sunny December 5, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    On camera she’s little miss cargo. I bet she’s swearing up a storm any time climbing a hill. #$%^&^%$#%^fat kids&^%$%^&^%

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    • Mabsf December 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm

      Nope, well… She loves to holler rap songs along with the boom box (integral part of her bike) on the top of her lungs…

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      • Sunny December 5, 2012 at 4:21 pm

        rap songs and swearing are synonymous

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    • Emily Finch December 5, 2012 at 7:13 pm


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    • Emily Finch December 5, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      I got 99 problems, but the bitch ain’t one.

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      • grimm December 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm

        How about… “I got 99 problems, but a hill ain’t one”?
        I would love to see a collabo with MX Spandex who did “Performance” a couple years ago.

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  • joe kurmaskie December 5, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Congrats Emily and have fun with the limelight. We’ll see you at the Friday party. As to the stone throwing about how many kids Emily has and her impact on the environment, Bill Mckibben got it right when he pointed out that population has less impact than consumption and institution energy policy – meaning we can do everything to lower our individuaal impact and we should, but until we work in concert to call the oil companies rogue and shift to soft path tech – we will continue right on into the long emergency. Every time you bike you effect the oil regimes bottom line. We are the masters of our own destinies- perhaps that means we are doomed, but I’m still going to try to effect change, tread lightly, no matter how many children we have – I personally have 4 boys, which is not good for the environment, but on the plus side, we walk and bike 90 percent of the time, downsized from a 3,000 plus square foot house to a 1400 sp foot house as we added kids, buy much of our possessions used or barter or trade, eat local, takes friends and experience over things, I am partner in a bicycle bag and rack company which works to move people from cars to bike lifestyles etc. Does having 4 kids make me a poor example for environmental protection, f-%k no, I say – if you take all of our choices and actions into consideration.

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  • Jim Lee December 5, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Catholics are the best cyclists!

    Not only E. Finch, but also E. Merckx!

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  • Red December 5, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    I like to see pictures of happy families. Plus, I’m a 57-year-old male with no children. Emily’s family can have the two spaces on the planet reserved for the children I don’t have. Maybe that will help some people calm down and mind their own business.

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    • Sunny December 5, 2012 at 8:21 pm

      Your 7 siblings are the loveliest people I know.

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  • Gracie December 5, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    I’m with Red–child-free by choice here, but I don’t like to rag on those with children. Emily can have my two so you can stop worrying your pretty little head, Bike-Max-Bike. And Emily’s reproductive choice is your business–why???? Dang, I am tired of dudes who think it’s their place to tell us women what to do with our uteruses.

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    • Sunny December 5, 2012 at 10:50 pm


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      • nuovorecord December 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm

        I just go with “lady parts.” 😉

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  • meh December 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    What bothers me is how Emily flaunts not being concerned about being greener. You are green, to some extent, composting is no more hard than riding that damn expensive ass imported bike. Give it (any next green) step a try. You can only better the world for your (higher stake) 6 children.

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    • Emily Finch December 5, 2012 at 10:44 pm

      Oooooooooooooh, spitefulness! The new green! Show me. I want to know.

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  • Hart Noecker December 5, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    While 6 kids may seem a lot, and while reducing unwanted pregnancy and instituting some form of population control is important, it’s also good to remember that by and large it the society a person is born into that largely dictates their level of consumption of resources. A kid in America will consume the same resources as about 100 kids in India. What this woman has done that is unique and noteworthy is showing that regardless of the size of your family, you can easily live a car-free life style full of bike fun. That’s what I chose to take from this story. Let’s prevent unwanted pregnancy and go ride our bikes.

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    • Hart Noecker December 5, 2012 at 9:00 pm

      Also, the photo of the german shepherd in doggy jail with the surfboards is hilarious.

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  • rain bike December 6, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Luckily, this kind of celebrity is fleeting. We may have to endure a short-lived reality-based TV show or smack-down with Honey Boo Boo, but this too will pass.

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    • KYouell December 6, 2012 at 10:08 am

      “Endure?” Really? You poor thing. Does someone have you strapped to a chair with your eyelids taped open and they are forcing you to read stories about moms on bikes? Tap out where you are and we’ll come save you. Eventually.

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      • rain bike December 6, 2012 at 1:44 pm

        I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who sometimes deliberately reads or watches something with which I disagree. Too many are too intellectually fragile to allow themselves to do that. Keep it up. It’s good for you.

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  • tonypdx December 6, 2012 at 10:54 am

    I like to see pictures of happy families. Plus, I’m a 57-year-old male with no children. Emily’s family can have the two spaces on the planet reserved for the children I don’t have. Maybe that will help some people calm down and mind their own business.
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    My husband and I have no plans to reproduce. There’s two more. As if your children actually need a “get out of the uterus free” card. Emily, you are an inspiration every time I see you. Thank you for helping make biking a relevant option! RAWK ON!!!!!!!! Oh, and pass me that bottle…..

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  • rider December 6, 2012 at 10:59 am

    These comments make a great premise for a Portlandia sketch. Not Emily having a large family, but all the people freaking out on her for having one. I had no idea people held such anger toward people for wanting and having a multiple children. You can almost smell the impotent rage of the lonely man up in here.

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    • A.K. December 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      Yes, the funny “open-minded liberal” until they’re not phenomenon…

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  • Sunny December 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    She’s having too much sex! STOP IT! stop it now or you’ll kill us all

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    • Emily Finch December 6, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      And FYI, it’s uterus, not uteri. You’ve got your religions mixed up.

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  • Lynne December 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    the elephant in the room? You mean the misused apostrophes?

    Go Emily!

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    • Tacoma December 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      Snort! 🙂 Though I tend to think of those more as mosquitoes

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  • Terry D December 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    It is true the biggest benefit to the environment one can make in your life in this CURRENT world is to decide NOT to reproduce. A decision I made even before I started dating and figured out what what I wanted in life. When I made this decision 20 years ago the public did not even know much about carbon pollution for sure, but I was creating about 20-25 tons a year in CO2. Very soon after that decision I moved from Suburban Chicagoland to Madison, Wi and switched from a 79 Camero to an old ten speed.

    The decision to not reproduce has been very easy for us to fulfill now that I am a settled middle-aged man due to the obvious reason of lacking a female in our household……As a consequence of that and our other lifestyle choices, our combined household carbon emissions last year were about 6 tons (best guess).

    …..but I digress….At the same time NO ONE has the right to tell anyone how many children they can have. You can give them free education, contraception, social services and support but if you believe in equality for all then all the condescension, sexism, and arrogance needs to be thrown out the window.

    She is an inspiration as to how to manage in a car centric society and how to make your family decisions have less of an impact, while teaching the next generation how to live with the environment. This also is a great example as to why we need to STOP building any more bottle necks when it comes to connections. No more elevators, no more stairs, no more “wheel wells” that do not work. As more families move towards long trailers and side cars, large tricycles and other bike creations… we do not know what the future will bring. We need to build for the future.

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    • Pete December 10, 2012 at 12:07 am

      What’s the difference in environmental impact between choosing not to bear a child and choosing to kill yourself at an early age?

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  • JRB December 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    I have no desire to revisit the question of overpopulation as it pertains to Emily and her family. We’ve all been there and one that. I am disappointed, however, to see the anger and even vitriol in some instances directed at anyone who has had the temerity to raise the population issue.

    We get it. You love Emily. Heck, I love Emily and I have never even met her, not the least because she demonstrates an amazing ability to respond to comments raising the population issue with a grace, charm and most of all humor unfortunately lacking in many of her self-appointed defenders.

    Folks may want consider that it is just possible that people can be concerned about overpopulation because they worry about the threats it poses to the human quality of life and the very survival of other species, and not because they hate women, hate children, or want to control other people’s lives.

    No where have I read that the media coverage of Emily has been against her will. When you voluntarily place yourself in the public eye, you should be willing to accept that there might be people who don’t hold everything about you in equally high esteem. From her comments, Emily apparently understands that. I wish others did as well.

    Finally, there just seems to be a thread of hypocrisy in some of these comments. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe some folks would be so ready to leap to the defense of the “Octo-Mom”* if this had been a story about her right to have as many kids as biology and technology will allow.

    *DISCLAIMER: I am in no way, shape, form or manner, suggesting, insinuating or implying that Emily Finch in any way resembles the Octo-Mom.

    P.S. Does the Octo-Mom have a name besides “Octo-Mom?”

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    • KYouell December 7, 2012 at 10:48 am

      JRB, I can’t speak for others, but I know why I get my knickers in such a knot. I’ve yet to hear anyone raise “the population issue” only the “she has 6 kids?!?” issue. Not the same thing. Speaking of the population issue as an abstract thing does not bother me. What bothers me is pointing at a specific family and specific kids and being outraged they exist.

      This is not just because I am Emily’s friend. I would have reacted the same way had I never met her. Our son has Down syndrome and I know for a fact, because there have been situations where people have said it, that part of “the population issue” is also “the disability issue” because these people use resources but are not seen as giving back (WRONG). Now we’re talking about “the eugenics issue.” This is the slippery slope, in action, every stinking day, in my face. You bet I’m angry when a story about a woman who moves her 6 kids around by bikes because she enjoys it heads down this path.

      If Emily was single and having octuplets when she already had kids she had trouble supporting, yes, I would think she needed some therapy instead of filling a hole in her life with children. That’s what I would THINK. If Jonathan profiled her because she was into biking the kids around I would probably comment, but I’d keep it related to biking. I have a right to think what I want, but freedom of speech is limited (can’t shout “Fire!” in a theater), and I don’t need to say hurtful things that are completely off topic. In my opinion, the people who want to discuss the population issue should find a blog with that focus and go yak about it there; if you can’t follow “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” you may piss off people who won’t keep their mouths shut, tacitly allowing it to seem like the hateful comments are agreed with.

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  • Skid December 6, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Although my two stepdaughters have been quite “enough” I find it appalling that people are making negative comments about Emily and her husband’s CHOICE to have 6 children. Obviously she is an attentive and loving parent who is more than capable of caring for them, so there is nothing to complain about.

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  • Paul g. December 7, 2012 at 8:50 am

    And as I pointed out the last time we had this discussion, the comments here about ZPG and overpopulation are mired in a worldview and demographic reality that are about 25 years out of date. Folks you really need to move beyond the ideologies of the 1960s and update with a few facts.

    Fact 1: the US is and has been at ZPG for at least a decade. If you are rightly concerned about overpopulation, you should be focusing your energies on Asia and Africa, not on someone like Emily. Societies that are failing to be sufficiently fertile–e.g. Japan, Russia, much of Western Europe–are facing a demographic time bomb.

    Fact 2: the biggest environmental impact we each make is not our mode of transportation, it’s our lifestyle at home, our heating, refrigeration, etc. Emily has eight people living on one home that I suspect is 2000 sq feet or less. That’s less than 300 sq ft per person. It is the per capita energy consumption that matters. a household of one person is by far the most wasteful household.

    I see many people living as singles or couples, or even a family with one child, in a house originall built for a family of six. For them to criticize a large family is hypocritical. Move yourself into a Japanese style 600 sq ft apartment and then we’ll talk.

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    • todd December 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      Paul, I agree with most of what you say. But last time I looked into it about 7 years ago, I concluded that (car) transportation was the single largest energy suck of the average US household, at nearly 60% of total household use (taking industrial energy use into account makes transportation less than 50%). Where does your data come from that shows otherwise? As has been correctly noted a bazillion times, this is not a story about how green Emily is. But if it were, between her mode of transport and the efficiency of her urban home, I bet she’d fare quite well per capita compared to the sanctimonious offgassing of her critics.

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    • Help December 7, 2012 at 11:32 pm

      How does “per capita” energy consumption matter? So, if we quadruple the population, but halve per capita consumption, total consumption would be doubled. According to your logic, this would be a plus for the environment. It pretty clearly isn’t.

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  • Tomas Quinones December 7, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Emily can have the carbon credits that I will never use towards children. I’m certain her kids will all be bad-ass eco-warriors to make the world a far better place than the kids with helicopter parents and can’t ride their bicycle in their own neighborhood.

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  • todd December 7, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    But at the end of the day, she will do more over the course of her lifetime to hurt the environment than just about anyone else out there.

    Um. Really? By this logic, whoever figures out a cure for malaria will have to contend with the inventors of antibiotics as greatest Hurters of the Environment ever, leaving poor Emily a mere asterisk in the annals of eco-destruction. Conversely, the architects of war, climate change and famine are the ultimate Green heros, beating back the human plague upon the earth. Is this where you mean to go?

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    • Brian December 7, 2012 at 2:29 pm

      Todd, I’ll bite. For humanity, no.

      For the planet, it’s humanity that’s killing it.

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    • Help December 7, 2012 at 11:23 pm

      Yes, pointing out a fact that having 6 children does more to harm the environment than having zero children is a direct link to hoping for more war, famine, and misery on earth. Brilliant deduction.

      I POINTED out a fact. I’m not JUDGING that fact. I don’t care that she’s had six children or if she chooses to have six more. Last I saw, we’re not in China. The overpopulation arguments have been going for thousands of years and have been proven over and over again to be wrong. Humans have the unique ability to “technologize” their way out of problems. I believe we can do that with the ongoing global warming issue. That being said, it doesn’t change the FACT that having 6 children does more harm to the environment than having zero.

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  • nuovorecord December 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Reading through the comments reminds me of why some people think Portland is filled with smug, holier-than-thou, @$$-holes. There’s always a thread of truth to most stereotypes.

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  • Beth December 7, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    At the risk of getting back to the original topic, which I think several months ago was something about bicycling…

    ..::ducks flying spitwads::..

    1. I want to know how many folks have tried towing a tandem tag-a-long and how rideable it is fully loaded. I have two friends who are considering them and without personal experience myself I don’t know what to tell them.
    2. At what point does the towing train (adult bike, tag-a-long and trailer) become too difficult to negotiate in traffic (i.e., cornering and narrower streets)?

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  • Velvetackbar December 7, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Todd, I’ll bite. For humanity, no.
    For the planet, it’s humanity that’s killing it.
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    the planet couldn’t live without us.

    We humans are not a blight on the landscape: we are an essential part of the ecosystem. Yes, we certainly wreck things all over the place, but we are in the predatory chain, and our actions and systems are critical to this place we call Home.

    that said: we cannot waste things, but without human intervention, there are entire ecosystems that would be vastly different, and not all of those differences point to positives.

    Ultimately, tho: we aren’t going anywhere, and until someone decides to pull a “Rainbow Six” to knock down the population as one would knock down some weeds, it makes more sense for us to focus on a wholistic approach to environmentalism.

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    • Brian December 7, 2012 at 6:45 pm

      No, this is an entirely wrong and a species-centric viewpoint. Humans are the apex predator of everything; natural selection takes care of the rest of the species. What species would you think would run amok in your human-less scenario and how much more greenhouse emissions would it emit?

      Well, China institued a one child policy to control its population growth, the U.S. has not. I agree it’s an individual’s prerogative to be socially conscious or not and those who are not…well I don’t have a lot of respect for them. Emily chooses to be so in her own way, that’s fine. Bottom line is humans are the ones destroying the planet, not any other species. That you think humans are necessary to the planet to control its ecosystem is crazy.

      I dunno you jumping on my comments as a friend of Emily is more than a little transparent. I see ya on the twitterverse y’know.

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  • Pete December 9, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    I think it’s kind of crazy how an article about a biking family’s “celebrity” status instantly turns into an argument on the theory that controlling population growth is the best way to save the planet – an extensive argument, no less. Does anyone else see the irony in a bunch of people typing comments on electric-powered computers espousing their particular ideas on consumption of natural resources? (A hint if you don’t get it: your comments are data packets that have traveled extensively through networking and data-storage equipment powered primarily by coal and natural gas).

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  • SilkySlim December 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Spotted Emily biking the whole gang yesterday while running, and we actually had an impromptu race up 16th past the roses. Fun!

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    • KYouell December 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      We were on our way to brunch with hubbys in tow. Thanks for hitting the crosswalk button! 🙂

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  • Lee December 10, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    I myself am over population.I’m one of 10 kids my mom & dad had. I have 6 sisters & 3 brothers. I did not ask to be born just as everybody else never asked also. Becoming a parent should be the biggest responsibility in the world, sadly it’s not. People before you bring kids into this world think really,really hard about it.

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