Marion and her daughter Gleneden.

Welcome to Carfree Families, a column about biking with kids written by Marion Rice.

Marion is a mother of two (ages 5 and 2) and she’s full of ideas and tips about how to be a confident and capable carfree mom or dad.

If you’ve got kids and you want to drive less and ride more, stay tuned for articles on everything from exploring family bike options, to cycling with babies and toddlers.

For more inspiring examples of family riding, view’s Family Riding Photo Gallery or browse the Family Biking story archives.

Read the latest Carfree Families articles by clicking the headlines below.

Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: Strava Struggles and Stats

Posted on February 4th, 2020 at 9:59 am.

north portland bike ride

Data is fun.

A couple summers ago, our family would go on big bike outings down and around the Smith & Bybee Wetlands area (it’s fun, you should try it!). My tweens and husbeast would go speeding up ahead of me, while I struggled behind, pulling the hard-bottom Burley trailer, our picnic stuff, and our kindergartner. It was easily over a hundred pounds.

I’d get home afterwards and my husbeast and I would compare notes and it would just irk me that Strava recorded me having a leisurely bike ride with minimal effort while it recorded him, half as sweaty, as having a vigorous one. I looked all over the app trying to find a way to change some sort of effort or cargo-pulling settings, but there was no such thing.

I have no plans on going pro. I realize I am privileged to say I don’t diet or track much of anything health-related in any earnest effort, but data sure is fun. Why is it that just because the data is there to observe, we need it? Or we need it to be correct? It’s not like I was going to change anything in my life if the data was accurate. I just wanted my little gold star, dammit
[Read more…]

Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: Ode to Zen Bike Guy

Posted on December 26th, 2019 at 9:59 am.

group of cyclists riding at night in an urban setting, wearing casual gear and lots of lights on the bikes

Foster Night Ride photo by Krishna Muirhead

Now that we’re acquainted, my first and biggest question is:

“How are you not constantly having a heart attack?”

I know some of you are totally chill. I see you. I have this amalgamation of chill cyclists in my head, based heavily on a few in particular. One looks more like he’s hovering along, and there just happens to be a bike under him. You know the guy. No helmet, no hands on the handlebars, not even aware of the potholes, wearing all black sometimes with a plaid flannel variation, and certainly unconcerned with vehicles. He’s glorious. Sometimes he’s female. She has the cutest little basket in front of a big heavy cruiser, wearing a dress and sandals, and without any effort whatsoever is passing me up a hill. Sometimes it seems like folks of all kinds are passing me and not at all having the same level of stroke-inducing-crazy-car-magnet-luck I’m having.

Be honest with me, okay? Is there some law of diminished returns on wearing reflectors, all the lights, Day-Glo green and pink, and two rolls of reflective tape? Is there a point at which it starts being more like a flame-to-a-moth scenario? I know it happens with emergency vehicle lights and traffic, so you can tell me. I’ll believe you.[Read more…]

Need a transportation bike for your kid? Good options are out there

Posted on December 8th, 2009 at 12:41 pm.

Tour de Ladd-9.jpg

Most kids’ bikes available in the US,
like these spotted at Tour de Ladd this fall,
aren’t fitted out for city riding.
(Photo © J. Maus)

After an exhaustive search for a good city bike for my son, I have concluded that kids bikes in general are in a sorry state. Either they are poorly constructed and will last only a year or two or they are overengineered and just not equipped for a city-riding kid.

By the looks of the offerings on the US market, it appears bike manufacturers think that kids mostly go off road and need mountain-type bikes, or that all kids need is a way to cruise around their cul-du-sac with no gears and just foot brakes. [Read more…]

Review: Bridging the independence gap with the FollowMe

Posted on October 1st, 2009 at 8:00 am.

[Publisher’s note: This review is by our Family Biking columnist Marion Rice. Marion’s last column explored safety and cultural issues around carrying infants by bike.]

On test- Follow-me Tandem-2

Griffin and dad test riding the FollowMe.
(Photos © J. Maus)

[Read more…]

Carrying your infant by bike: How young is too young?

Posted on August 24th, 2009 at 1:56 pm.

Kidical Mass!-22.jpg

A baby seat in a bakfiets is not
a rare sight in Portland.
(Photos © J. Maus)

A reader contacted us with a dilemma — she is about to have her first child, she doesn’t own a car, and she travels primarily by bike. In preparing for her new life as a parent, she had some questions.

Is it safe to ride with a newborn? Is it legal? Are there important age benchmarks she should know about? She was particularly concerned about the impact of vibration on a child’s brain development. [Read more…]

How to navigate through your child’s first bike purchase

Posted on May 27th, 2009 at 8:55 am.

Marion Rice and daughter Gleneden

[Publisher’s note: This article is by our Family Biking columnist Marion Rice. Marion’s last two columns have been about biking while pregnant. Today she talks about negotiating a first bike purchase with your child.]

Starting at about 10 years old, I can remember going everywhere on my bike with my group of friends on the weekend. We would pack lunches and take off for points unknown. Of course we would have to bring a dime or two to call home and check in with our parents during the day. Sometimes we would call to beg for a ride home after having biked a good 20 miles away. [Read more…]

Biking with a bump (at 32 weeks)

Posted on April 27th, 2009 at 9:50 am.

[Editor’s note: The story below, written our Family Biking columnist Marion Rice, is a follow-up to a story we published on February 2nd. That story introduced you to Portlander Angela Koch and posed the question: Should you ride while pregnant?]

Angela Koch, 32 weeks pregnant,
pedals happily along SE Ash Street.
(Photos © Dan Liu)

Angela Koch is now 32 weeks pregnant, and she’s still biking around the streets of Portland with a smile on her face. Her belly is significantly bigger now than it was back in February when I first wrote about her, and she’s still doing great.

Sure, at the end of a long day she’s tired, and there are a few aches and pains (darn sciatica) — but nothing that keeps her off her bike. [Read more…]

Biking with a bump: Should you ride while pregnant?

Posted on February 3rd, 2009 at 2:05 pm.

Marion Rice and daughter Gleneden

[Publisher’s note: This article is by our Family Biking columnist Marion Rice (bio). Marion previously wrote about how to deal with kids who don’t want to go by bike. Today, she delves into the topic of biking while pregnant.]

[Read more…]

What to do when kids don’t want to go by bike

Posted on December 5th, 2008 at 10:53 am.

Marion Rice and daughter Gleneden

[Editor’s note: This article is by our Family Biking columnist Marion Rice. Marion previously wrote about how to keep kids warm and dry on the bike. Today, she offers up her tips and thoughts about what to do when your little ones don’t feel like hopping on the bike (which is something that I bet happens to all families at one point or another).]

Sometimes my kids say they don’t want to go by bike.

“I also have to admit — I keep emergency chocolate in my Xtracyle bag.”

We do have a car and the mere presence of a motorized, temperature controlled cocoon creates the potential option for using it. I often wonder how other bike commuting parents deal with this and what they say to get their kids going when they don’t want to. [Read more…]

Keeping kids warm and dry on the bike

Posted on October 30th, 2008 at 11:32 am.

Marion Rice and daughter Gleneden

This article was written by our Family Biking columnist Marion Rice. For previous articles in this series, and for links to other articles and photos on family biking, check out the Family Biking Page.

[Read more…]