About Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist)

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist)

Madi Carlson (aka @familyride) began writing our Family Biking column in February 2018. 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.


Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) Posts

Family Biking: Beyond mama bear rage and toward healthier responses to bad drivers

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

Try “Wow, someone’s in a hurry” in place of “Slow the f— down!”
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

As the days get shorter, wetter, and colder it feels like more people are driving faster, less predictably, and more assholishly.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I used to get all heated-up about people driving unsafely around me and my kids. You know, like a protective mama bear. Grrr. I once angrily pantomimed hanging up a phone at a woman talking on her cell while running a stop sign in front of us and I’ve even thumped the trunk of a car after its driver barreled into the crosswalk against a red light, coming within an inch of my front wheel.

The thing is, reacting angrily just leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth, not to mention doesn’t set the best example for my kids. So I’ve drastically changed my reactions. I’m not perfect and slip from time-to-time (mama bears gonna mama bear), but keeping my cool has vastly improved my quality of life despite still sharing some roads with people misusing two-ton battering rams.[Read more…]

Family biking: Our annual tree-by-bike tradition

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

An annual tradition.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)


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Saddle height hints, ballast before babes, and other tips for settling into family biking

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Me and my boys shortly before I removed the front kid seat and raised my saddle two inches.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

‘Tis the season for giving and receiving new bikes. With that in mind, I want to share a few tips on how to comfortably settle into a new rig.
[Read more…]

Family Biking: Come join us at Cranksgiving

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

I don’t like grocery shopping with kids, but I love Cranksgiving shopping with kids.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Cranksgiving is a bike-based food-and-supplies drive, treasure hunt, costume contest, and bike race. This is the sixth year for the event in Portland, but it started back in 1999 in New York City. It’s fun for participants fast and slow, and whether you’re equipped to carry a lot or a little, it’s definitely something to bring the kids to.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

This year’s edition is on Saturday, November 24th from 12:00-5:00 pm at Nomad Cycles PDX (5820 NE Sandy Blvd). Here’s the blurb from the event page, “Cranksgiving is a tradition. You come, you ride, or volunteer. We provide a manifesto of locations, supplies, and tasks that must be completed. You make it happen with your team.”

This year’s beneficiary is Portland Street Medicine — whose donated bike fleet we featured here on the Front Page two weeks ago.

In addition to purchasing items to donate (expect to spend $20), teams are eligible for prizes in several categories:
➤ Fastest
➤ Most donated
➤ Best costume
➤ DFL (dead…uh…festively last)
Form your team (of any size this year) ahead of time or find teammates on race day.
[Read more…]

Family Biking: Get ready for puddle season

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Start ’em young…also, balance bikes have no drivetrain to douse with puddle water.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Puddle season is right around the corner, are you ready?

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Officially, I believe one should always avoid puddles because you never know what’s hidden under the water. Unofficially, they’re really fun to ride through!

But seriously, puddles can contain sharp rocks that puncture tires or hide deep potholes that throw you over your handlebars when you enter them. Or if you lose momentum on your way through a big puddle and have to put your foot down: soaking wet foot.
[Read more…]

Family Biking: Let’s (not) talk about safety

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

On Clinton, and only Clinton, we ride side by side even when cars are near.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Last week I wrote a “rah rah” post about making a plan to pedal more and beat the winter blahs. That post inspired a few comments about readers’ plans for winter biking; but there was one commenter who felt I, “Missed a huge opportunity to point out that riding at night or even in a light rain increases one’s chances dramatically of death and maiming.”

So this week I figured I should write about safety. Or rather, why I don’t write about safety.[Read more…]

Family Biking: Beat winter blahs with a plan to pedal more

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

Setting goals and plans might keep you riding more this winter.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

It’s that time of year.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

We stayed in all day Monday. The kids were out of school due to a Portland Public Schools planning day. My one bike-related chore was digging dozens of pieces of glass out of my tires while fixing a flat (more on that in a future post), but that was the closest I got to riding my bike.

The planning day got me thinking about planning something — anything — for the upcoming months to help keep the winter blahs at bay.
[Read more…]

Family Biking: How straps can unlock your bike’s carrying capacity

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Desk on a bike!
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

This week’s post isn’t about family biking per se, but kids often come with lots of stuff to haul around. And since parenting helps unlock one’s ingenuity — family biking goes hand-in-hand with strapping loads of crap to our bikes.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

This also isn’t a plug to get a cargo bike so you can carry big things — although cargo bikes certainly make carrying big things easy — all bikes are great at carrying more than just their riders…or instead of their riders: one of the best things about any bike is its ability to transform into a dolly/hand truck. It’s fairly easy to pile heavy and/or bulky things on your bike and walk alongside, pushing. The day we moved to Portland (most of our stuff came in a 16-foot PODS moving container) I still had a lot of stuff to bring with us via bus-train-light rail-bus so I used my folding bike as a luggage cart.[Read more…]

Family Biking: How to get Halloween night right

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

L-R: Darth Vader in rain jacket, minion in rain jacket, Wonder Woman in rain jacket, Rainier beer can adjacent to her costume in basket.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Do you take your bike trick-or-treating? We do.
[Read more…]

Family Biking: What’s your favorite rain gear? (I asked my kids too)

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

What is your favorite rain gear?
What prevents a wet and shiny nose?
Is it something on your bike like fenders?
Or is it waterproof cycling clothes?

[Read more…]