Family biking profile: A new(ish) rider and her toddler take to the streets

**NOTE: Photos and names of our profile’s subjects have been removed from this story by their request. Sorry. – Jonathan**

This week we’re going to share a profile of a local family biker.

K*** ****** is relatively new to Portland and has embraced bicycling for transportation with her toddler son in tow.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Tell me a little about yourself and your family.

Hi! My name is K*** and my son **** and love riding our bike! **** will be two next month and he loves the adventure and freedom of being on a bike. I’m a social worker at the VA hospital and we use our bike to commute to work and daycare. We moved to Portland from Michigan in April and began riding upon our arrival! We live in inner SE PDX.

Tell me about your bike.

We have a Specialized Sirrus we got new from River City this spring. It is an awesome blue color with blue fenders, too. We have a child seat in the back (attached by frame, the Co-Pilot). The bike has a decent weight, but I’m still able to take it up the stairs to our apartment. I love the Co-Pilot seat for the durability, removable seat pad, reflectors, and high sides. It is a safe ride for both of us. We have a basket in front for all of our supplies — diapers, wipes and clothes for school and lunch for work.

Is there something you wish you had known before you took your first pedal stroke as a family biker that would have made things easier?

I wish I’d of known how intense it can be. As we live in southeast, we see bikers everywhere getting to Clinton Street. It can be overwhelming at times weaving through everyone. I also wish I’d of know about the dreaded freight trains blocking the way home!

Tell me about a typical ride you take in Portland.

Typically we ride four miles a day (to the lower base of the tram and then home) Monday-Friday. We cross the Tilikum, which is always a lot of fun. With the time change **** has especially loved seeing all the lights and colors. It’s a pretty flat ride, which is a huge plus with everything that is getting hauled. We take the tram up for the rest of our daily commute. Weather pending on weekends, we might ride along the water front for some nice views!


Tell me about an especially memorable ride in Portland.

One day coming home from work we got caught in some pretty heavy, cold rain. We were mildly prepared, but were missing true rain gear at the time. I was nervous about how **** would react with the rain coming down and no real cover. He ended up laughing the entire way back, which made me enjoy the ride even more! Another interesting time was a morning with fog; that coupled with darkness made going over Tilikum feel like you’re floating.

If there was one piece of bike infrastructure (street, intersection, bike rack, etc) you use regularly that you could change to improve your life, what would it be?

It would be awesome if there was some sort of pedestrian overpass near division and 11/12th streets for when the trains come during the morning and evening rush. That way traffic could still be moving! It would also save in people trying to go over the tracks when it stops. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Have you biked in other cities and how did it compare?

I had never biked! Interestingly, before coming here and biking at least five to seven days a week, I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was a kid/pre-teen! That kind of bike riding was completely different. I never would have guessed I’d be a biker for my commute.

What about rain/snow/wind/extreme heat? Do you bike in less-than-ideal conditions?

We definitely have! If it looks especially treacherous, we’ll use transit to get to work. As **** is pretty exposed, I try to limit biking when the temperatures are less than 40 in the morning. If it looks like downpour rain, we’ll also find alternate ways. We’ve bikes in some of the windy days, but haven’t encountered snow (yet)!

What’s your best piece of advice to pass along to BikePortland readers?

If you’ve ever thought about taking your kid out with you — do it! I was really nervous at first, and rightfully so I think. It’s been awesome seeing how much fun he has and it makes me think once he’s old enough to ride on his own it will become a hobby of his. There are so many things to do and see by bike and not to mention great exercise.

Thank you for sharing your story ****!

Remember, we’re always looking for people to profile. Get in touch if it sounds like fun to you. I’d especially like to feature families of color so please get in touch or ask friends of color who bike with their kids if they’re interested in sharing their stories. And as always, feel free ask questions in the comments below or email me your story ideas and insights at madidotcom [at] gmail [dot] com.

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

Browse past Family Biking posts here.

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Madi Carlson

Madi Carlson

Madi Carlson (@familyride on Twitter) wrote our Family Biking column from February 2018 to November 2019. She's the author of Urban Cycling: How to Get to Work, Save Money, and Use Your Bike for City Living (Mountaineers Books). In her former home of Seattle, Madi was the Board President of Familybike Seattle, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting bicycling as a means for moving towards sustainable lifestyles and communities. She founded Critical Lass Seattle, an easy social group ride for new and experienced bicyclists who identify as women and was the Director of Seattle's Kidical Mass organization, a monthly ride for families. While she primarily bikes for transportation, Madi also likes racing cyclocross, all-women alleycats, and the Disaster Relief Trials. She has been profiled in the Associated Press, Outdoors NW magazine, CoolMom, and ParentMap, and she contributed to Everyday Bicycling by Elly Blue.

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David Hampsten
David Hampsten
5 years ago

Need helmet rain covers? I’ve even seen kid helmet versions.

Kiel Johnson / Go By Bike

Very cool, thanks for sharing. Awesome that you had never really ridden much before until coming to Portland. It is pretty cool that good bike streets like Clinton can inspire people to get on their bike, especially with a kid in tow.

5 years ago

I saw a guy coming off the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge in a pounding rain one day with his toddler on the back. That kid was laughing his head off too. A day he will never forget!

5 years ago

I love these profiles! I hope I see **** and **** out on the Clinton Greenway. I don’t know that I would’ve started biking my kids around if I’d had to bring my bike up into an apartment when I started. #HighFive