Family Biking with Madi Carlson

Each week Madi Carlson shares insights and adventures gleaned from raising two kids on two wheels.

This content is made possible by Clever Cycles, a family-oriented bike shop located on SE Hawthorne at 9th.


Family Biking: How to get Halloween night right

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on October 16th, 2018 at 9:44 am

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)

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on October 9th, 2018 at 9:09 am

(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…]

Family Biking: It’s bike-to-pumpkins season! Here’s where to go

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on October 2nd, 2018 at 11:32 am

Pumpkins on a bike!
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

[Read more…]

Family Biking: Time to plan for Walk and Roll to School Day

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on September 25th, 2018 at 9:27 am

Our May 2017 Woodstock Walk and Roll to School crew, after the walkers had already set off for school.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

If you’re like me, you love to celebrate active transportation (a.k.a. walking, bicycling, using a wheelchair, skateboarding, scootering, etc). On October 10th we’ve got the perfect opportunity to party because it’s Walk and Roll to School Day! With about two weeks until event, there’s still time to organize something at your school.
[Read more…]

Family Biking: Can’t ride? What’s your backup plan?

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on September 18th, 2018 at 9:05 am

Used the school bus for the first time yesterday!
(Photo: Madi Carlson)

What’s your backup plan when you can’t bike somewhere with your kids?

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I jinxed myself by deciding on this topic last week and woke up sick Monday morning. I biked with my 4th grader one mile to Woodstock Elementary School for his 8:15 a.m. bell, but didn’t feel up to biking four miles to escort my 6th grader to his middle school’s (Hosford) 9:15 a.m. start time.

Enter, the school bus!

The middle school bus is very convenient — it picks up two blocks away from our house and we didn’t even need to sign up for it, just show up when you want to take it. This first time I walked with him and got the lay of the land from two of his last-year classmates who ride regularly (pro tip: try to sit by the front because the 8th graders sit in the back and play bad music and scream about boys when the bus goes by the high school, and the trip home is much worse than the trip in).

I got my work shift covered and slept all day, energetic enough to fetch my 4th grader at 2:30 p.m. and learn that he wants to start biking home alone this week — yay! Less to worry about for future sick days. Then I towed my 6th grader’s bike to middle school (cargo bikes are very handy, even when kids are mostly pedaling on their own) to meet him at 3:45 p.m.[Read more…]

Family Biking: Join us for Kidical Massive this Saturday (9/15)

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on September 11th, 2018 at 12:34 pm

Kidical Mass is for families. Kidical MASSIVE is for even more families.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

Kidical Mass PDX has a special event coming up this weekend: Kidical MASSIVE. I’ve written about Kidical Mass before and how much it means to me. Even as a seasoned family biker, there’s nothing I love more than riding with a big, slow, rolling, bell-dinging parade of kids on bikes.

What’s special about this particular Kidical Mass is that all 50 or so of the the Kidical Masses around the world host will an event on the same day.
[Read more…]

Family Biking: A bike light primer for the approaching season

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on September 4th, 2018 at 12:15 pm

My boys riding home from a Portland Pickles baseball game in Lents Park after dark.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Kid bedtimes are getting easier now that the blazing orb of discomfort is leaving the sky well before 10 p.m.; but with that comes the need for little manufactured orbs of light. As much as it pains me to say it, the days are getting shorter and now’s the time to prepare for darker mornings and evenings.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I can tell from our packed school bike racks that there are a lot of new bike riders this year and I hope they’ll keep it up as the temperature drops and daylight hours lessen. I also bet a lot of them don’t have lights yet. If you need some help seeing the light (hardy-har), this week’s post should help you out…

➤ Legal lighting requirements
Legally, you only need a front light and a rear reflector when it’s dark out. Per ORS 815.280, “during limited visibility conditions” one must display a white light visible to the front (on your helmet is OK — it doesn’t have to be attached to your bike) from at least 500 feet away and a red reflector visible from the rear at least 600 feet when lit by car headlights.[Read more…]

Family Biking: How was the first day of school?

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on August 28th, 2018 at 10:02 am

Obligatory first day of school photo.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

This question is for everyone! Portland Public Schools started back up this week and this affects many more people than just biking parents like myself. Did you see anyone biking to school and get a warm, fuzzy feeling? Did you bike to school or bike with a kid to school?

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

We had a great first day of biking to school, despite my not doing a heck of a lot of planning and figuring out how long things would take. One of the things I like about biking for transportation is being able to just wheel my bike outside, hop on it, and go…versus walking to a bus stop at an appointed time. This works fine for making a trip to the grocery store in the evening or using Google maps’ time estimate when I’m riding somewhere alone using the most direct route, but getting kids to school on time for the first day ideally gets some practicing and number crunching.[Read more…]

Family Biking: Get ready to bike to school

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on August 21st, 2018 at 10:43 am

Many Portland schools have great bike racks.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

We love biking to school.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

With Portland Public Schools starting in less than a week (!), this week I’ll share a bit about my family’s commute and then get into biking to school more broadly.

My two kids attended the same elementary school last year, a tad less than a mile from our house. It was a perfectly flat ride, but with two busy crossings that meant I always accompanied the kids, though they sometimes zoomed ahead of me once we got to the quiet part.
[Read more…]

Family Biking: Sidewalk cycling can be a savior

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist) by on August 14th, 2018 at 9:24 am

Riding on the sidewalk on the “wrong” side of the street to get to the MAX station.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

When I lived in Seattle I often said the best pieces of bicycle infrastructure were sidewalks.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I stuck to streets for the most part, but there were several places we regularly biked that required covering a couple blocks where I didn’t feel safe in the street, and in those instances, thank goodness for sidewalks! These were fast, four-lane streets with no bike markings whatsoever. No bike lanes. No sharrows (not that sharrows on arterials are great, don’t get me started).

As I’ve written previously, my routes differ whether I’ve got the kids with me or if they’re riding solo or attached via a trail-a-bike or cargo bike. This also affects the amount, if any, of sidewalk riding I do.

Here are more of my thoughts and experiences on sidewalk cycling…
[Read more…]