Family Biking

Where to buy used kids’ bikes in Portland

Madi Carlson (Columnist) by on March 13th, 2018 at 10:21 am

This Lil’ Honey was new in 2012, but is ready for a new owner now.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Six years ago I scored a free 12-inch kids bike from my neighborhood mom group. It was the start of a journey — not just of riding, but of figuring out how and where to get bikes that work and that fit my constantly growing boys.
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Biking with the family dog

Madi Carlson (Columnist) by on March 6th, 2018 at 10:43 am

Pixie at the helm.
(Photos by Madi Carlson)

What’s a family biker to do when the kids have graduated to riding their own bikes? One way to conquer the empty [bike] nest doldrums is by joining the #carrypupolympics.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I was born into a household run by cats and didn’t know the love of a dog until I was nine and we got Mandy, a mid-sized Shepherd mix, from the animal shelter. Mandy and I logged many miles on foot, but I never thought to combine playing with the dog with biking or skateboarding.

When I left home I became a small dog person and ended up with Lyle the chihuahua. My boyfriend at the time had wanted a chihuahua ever since, having been attacked by what he mistook for a woman’s fur while working at a taco restaurant drive-thru. Fortunately, Lyle had a lovely personality and I was delighted by his portability. Back then I rode a hybrid bike with a backpack so I tucked Lyle in front, between my t-shirt and sweatshirt, and brought him to college classes with me. This system worked well except for one time when a friend hailed Lyle from the sidewalk and Lyle leapt out of my sweatshirt. He got a bit scratched up, but luckily didn’t hold it against me or the bike and we lived to ride another day.
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Tips for tackling toddler helmet hesitancy

Madi Carlson (Columnist) by on February 27th, 2018 at 10:34 am

Decorations — like these R2D2 stylings for a Star Wars themed ride — make wearing a helmet fun.
(Photos by Madi Carlson)

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

There’s no debate about helmet use for kids (heck, even most kids in Copenhagen wear them!). Opinions aside, it’s an Oregon law that everyone 15 years or younger has to wear one. But that doesn’t mean it’s as easy as snapping a buckle.

Getting a helmet on a kid is one of the toughest parts of family biking.

Over the years I’ve developed my own collection of tricks to take the hassle out of helmets. Today we’ll talk about where to buy them, choosing the right one, how to fit them — and of course, how to have fun while doing it.
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How to keep little bike passengers cozy in the cold

Madi Carlson (Columnist) by on February 20th, 2018 at 10:40 am

Bundled-up bike passengers

Lots of layers is a good start; but there’s much more to keeping them comfortable.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

You’ve decided to start biking more with your little ones. You’ve found routes that work for you. You’ve got your bike set-up figured out.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

And then you look outside and realize it’s 35 degrees.

Pedaling my heavy bike keeps me warm, but it’s a different story for my non-pedaling passengers. They need at least one extra layer when it’s cold outside. That’s one of the many things I’ve learned over the years.

As we get our first major snow storm of the year, this week’s post is all about how to stay warm and dry while biking with kids. First, I’ll go over the things you can put on your bike, then I’ll share the things you can (hopefully) put on your kids.
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Here’s how I’ve carried my kids by bike for the past 10 years

Madi Carlson (Columnist) by on February 13th, 2018 at 9:36 am

The boys and I at the Fiets of Parenthood event in 2012.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

The first step to biking with kids often starts with a question: How do you carry them?

I’ve had several family bikes over the years, with some overlap because redundancy is awesome if you have room to store it. I’ve since learned about bikes that work for babies through big kids, but I liken my multi-bike journey to the car seat progression many families follow: infant car seat to convertible car seat to booster seat. Even though some of those seats aren’t used for a long time, everything feels like an eternity when it’s baby-related and seems well worth it.

By sharing what has worked for my family, I hope it’ll help make carrying kids easier for you. Below is the progression of our bike set-up journey over the past 10 years…
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Partying on the Worst Day of the Year Ride

Madi Carlson (Columnist) by on February 12th, 2018 at 8:51 am

Worst Day of the Year Ride 2018

Our group had a birthday party theme. Can you tell?
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

We had a blast on our first Worst Day of the Year Ride.

New this year was a half-price four-mile family-friendly route which was perfect for us. Friends came down from Seattle because their almost-eight-year old wanted to celebrate his birthday with a bikey Portland weekend which made choosing our group costume easy: biking birthday party. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a ride with so many creative costumes and seeing the group finery was reason enough to attend.
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Introducing our new Family Biking column by Madi Carlson

Madi Carlson (Columnist) by on February 6th, 2018 at 2:30 pm

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

[Publisher’s note: Welcome to our Family Biking column! I’m thrilled to share Madi’s insights and experiences here on BP. Please give her a warm welcome and let’s thank Clever Cycles for helping bring this content to the community. — Jonathan]

Hi. I’m Madi.

I bike for all the typical reasons — it’s cheaper than driving, it’s safer than driving, it’s simpler than taking the bus, it’s healthy, it doesn’t pollute, it’s usually faster than all other modes of transportation — but mostly because it’s tremendously fun. Even with kids. Especially with kids. I love to share that sense of fun and ease with others in the hopes of encouraging more families and individuals to bike even just a little bit more often. I’ve found focusing on the fun stuff to be an effective way of promoting bicycling as transportation (but I also reserve the right to discuss statistics and badmouth car traffic).

I ride with my two sons, aged 10 and 8, and our conveniently-basket-sized dog. I’ve been family biking since my first son was one year old and have gone through several bike iterations along the way. I like to think there are a lot of different right answers and very few wrong answers when it comes to choosing a family bike.
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Ride to a quiet beach just 10 miles away on a route that’s 80 percent carfree

by on August 1st, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Ride from NoPo to Kelley Point Park-31.jpg

This five-mile path parallels Marine Drive and connects Kelley Point Park with Smith and Bybee Lakes.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Did you know there’s a ride that’s 80 percent carfree and will take you from inner Portland to beaches on the Willamette and Columbia rivers on a mix of quiet residential roads, sidewalks, and paths?

View and download route at

We all know how Portland’s 90-mile network of neighborhood greenways are great at getting us across town; but they can also help us get away from town.

A Portland Bureau of Transportation staffer once referred to our neighborhood greenway network as a “bus system for biking and walking.” And similar to how some of us use light rail to expand the scope of rides (like taking MAX to Hillsboro to reach Stub Stewart State Park), our neighborhood greenways enable smaller journeys more suitable for riders of all ages and abilities but no less fun and adventurous.

This past weekend my six-year-old son Everett and I hopped on a borrowed tandem (thanks Peter!) and headed out to Kelley Point Park — an isolated, 100-acre stand of cottonweed trees and grassy meadows at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers.
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Product review: The Islabikes Beinn 20 children’s bike

by on October 25th, 2016 at 10:44 am

Testing the Islabike Beinn 20-4.jpg

When a kid has the confidence to do little tricks, it’s a good sign they trust their bike.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

When he was finally ready, his bike was more than up to the task. That’s how I think about my five-year-old son Everett’s evolution to becoming a confident bike rider.

It wasn’t easy. He first learned to ride a regular pedal-bike (after learning on a balance bike) over two years ago. But for some reason he didn’t keep it up. He parked the bike and seemed afraid or nervous about it whenever we urged him to get back on the saddle. Even getting a shiny new red bike didn’t inspire him! I was completely at a loss. I was so frustrated that I just stepped back and stopped even talking about riding (absent dropping a few hints here and there).

Then one day while I was out of town, I got a text from Juli. It was a video of Everett riding his bike. “This just happened,” she wrote.

He got his bike out and just started riding it. All on his own. I guess he was finally ready.

And thankfully, his bike was too.
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This is what happens when you ask Portlanders to build balance bikes

by on December 5th, 2014 at 2:01 pm


Balance bikes for bid. See more photos below.
(Photo: CCC)

From the Bike Mechanic Challenge back in June to their successful Transportation Trivia Nights, the northeast Portland based Community Cycling Center has a knack for dreaming up great ways to support their cause.

But this one might take the cake.

In the spirit of the season when little kids dream of their first bike, the CCC challenged five of its staffers to compete in a “Balance Bike Build-Off”. For the uninitiated, a balance bike is a tiny bike for toddlers without pedals or gears and a seat so low it can be powered by running instead of pedaling. They’re simply the best way to learn to how to balance, and ultimately ride, a bike.
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