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

300 people turned out for the annual Kidical Mass Easter Ride!

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

Kidical Mass PDX Co-director Sara Cowling Davidson prepares to lead the ride.
Photos: Madi Carlson

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

With the Easter bunny hopping onto the scene so has arrived biking season! Like myself, you may feel that biking season never closed to begin with, but I still like celebrating the first big Kidical Mass PDX kids-of-all-ages family bike ride of the year on Easter. Also, with Pedalpalooza rides appearing hourly and Sunday Parkways details filtering in, bikey things really are picking up all of a sudden.

Our “season opener” was the biggest one yet with about 300 participants. We enjoyed cool but dry weather and had a wonderful egg hunt at the end. We even made the local TV news! Scroll down for some fun photos and the video coverage from KOIN… [Read more…]

Family Biking: Join us for the annual Kidical Mass Easter Ride

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

We had such a great time last year! Let’s do it again.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Flowers are blooming, the rain feels a bit warmer, and bike shops are off their winter schedules. That means Kidical Mass PDX is back, too! Our “season” typically starts on Easter Sunday with our annual Kidical Mass PDX Easter Ride and Egg Hunt:
[Read more…]

Family Biking: Here’s how to bike to the cherry trees in Waterfront Park

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

Visiting the cherry blossoms by bike on Sunday.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

On Sunday, my boys and I had the same idea as a lot of other Portlanders: visit the cherry blossoms in the Japanese American Historical Plaza. Then while biking home I realized Waterfront Park is incredibly family-friendly to reach by bike from the deepish southeast these days.
[Read more…]

Review: Surly’s ‘Big Easy’ smooths out family biking and cargo-hauling

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

I usually dread posing for professional photos, but Jonathan insisted… and it was actually fun!
(Photos: Peter Newlands/PHN Photography)

After sharing my initial impressions two weeks ago, I’m ready to share a full review of Surly’s new Big Easy electric cargo bike (retail price $5,000).

I rode the bike for two and a half weeks and found myself enamored with it. Read on as I delve into the wonders of the e-assist, the useful accessories, what I’d add to make it perfect, and what I like to change.[Read more…]

Family Biking: A tire pumping primer

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

Bike maintenance with kids is fun! (And takes twice as long.)
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Shout out to all the fair-weather family bikers! Rumor has it the gorgeous weather won’t last, but it’s lovely out right now and my kids’ bikes have lots of new company at the school bike racks.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Have you ever excitedly greeted your dusty, neglected bike in the garage on the first nice day of the year only to find it has two flat tires? Fortunately your tires don’t need repairing — rubber is porous and as soon as you pump air back in, your bike will be ready to roll. Keeping the right amount of air in your tires is a relatively easy task, and it’s incredibly empowering to be able to keep your family’s fleet functional. Yeah, plenty of other things can go wrong with bikes, but flat tires are the most common woe. Plus, kids can help, and — if yours are like mine — they’re probably already familiar with your bike pump, having shot air into their mouths, noses, and down their pants.

Here are some basic tire-pumping tips…
[Read more…]

Family Biking: First impressions of the Surly Big Easy electric cargo bike

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

Pretty sure this is the first time I’ve smiled at the thought of carrying two kids and an extra bike up a hill.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

I’m borrowing a Surly Big Easy, the brand new e-assist version of my beloved Surly Big Dummy longtail cargo bike. It’s been with me for a week now and we’ve been having a lot of fun with it. I’ll keep it another week or two before giving it back to Surly and writing a full review.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Before my full review, I’d like to offer some quick first impressions. Even more importantly, do you have any Portland-specific tests I should make a point of running? I’m thinking of things like:

➤ Biking up to the Zoo carrying a kid?
➤ Time 100 laps around Ladd Circle in Turbo mode?
➤ Carry 200 doughnuts from VooDoo to VooDoo 2 and see if they’re still warm upon arrival?

What are your ideas?
[Read more…]

Family Biking: Author and illustrator Alison Farrell comes to Storytime March 10th

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

Portland author and illustrator Alison Farrell will join us at Bike Shop Storytime this coming Sunday, March 10th.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

And please note: We’ve moved the remaining Storytime events from Mondays to Sundays to attract more little listeners. We’re also shifting from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. We’ll probably keep it going beyond March, but check the BikePortland.org calendar or Kidical Mass PDX website for the latest event info.

Alison will read read and offer signed copies of her amazing book, Cycle City. You might recall we profiled Alison last year.
[Read more…]

Family Biking Column: My recap of the Worst Day of the Year Ride

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

Cargo trailers make for easy decorating, and easy carrying of three kids and three bikes (one had a flat tire, two were tired).
(Photo: Jen Regan)

After having such a great time last year celebrating a friend’s 8th birthday on the Worst Day of the Year Ride, we had to do it again! In fact, it was so fun that our friend rescheduled his birthday by two weeks to work around the rescheduling of the event — that’s dedication!
[Read more…]

Carfree travel with kids: Taking the family around L.A. by transit

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

Taking light rail to the beach was a blast.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

It’s easy to survive winter in the Pacific Northwest. Just escape to somewhere warm and sunny for one week in November and one week in February — or so I was instructed by a wise friend upon moving here.

It sounds like a lovely method, but until this winter I was never able to put it off.[Read more…]

Biking through Vancouver BC’s protected intersection

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Separated bike lanes, curb bulbs, so much green paint!
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

— Madi Carlson is our Family Biking columnist.

It’s been three years since I visited Vancouver, Canada (with my cargo bike via BoltBus) and while I was very impressed with the bike infrastructure back then — it’s even better now. The most notable new thing was a protected intersection. [Read more…]