A growing number of Chicago families are saying no to cars and traffic jams. Instead, they are opting to pedal their way around the city. One of the people behind the movement is Rebecca Resman, who has been using bikes as her family’s transportation for seven years, since her oldest was just 6 weeks old.
She started Chicago Family Biking as a way to connect families like hers. From there, she launched the Kidical Mass Chicago Neighborhood Bike Rides to spread the word that families can live just fine by bike alone.
How does biking affect how you live?
If you are car-light or car-free, it really does lend your family to living a little bit more intentionally. I choose to live in places that I know have what I need within biking distance. People are thinking, “How do I cut out the chaos? Where do I find more time?” I feel like we really underestimate how much time we spend actually getting to places.
Do your kids love biking as much as you do?
My kids love biking. In fact, when we are going somewhere, visiting grandparents or somewhere far away, they will ask “Are we taking a car?” We are a car-free family, which makes it a whole ordeal. We have to rent a car, find a car, steal a car. We do not steal cars. So, if the answer is “yes,” there are audible groans.
Favorite biking route in Chicago?
I am personally a bike-for-transportation person. So, my favorite route tends to be the fastest, most efficient way to safely get to a space. I am not a bike-for-fun person. I bike because it is the fastest and most dependable way to get around. I am really excited for the new bike trails that are cropping up along the Chicago River. Off-street bike trails that provide safe and eventually seamless experiences are important to families.
How do you want Chicago Family Biking to grow?
My personal goal is that we continue to empower families to see biking as a viable option for getting around, to grow our membership in areas where we know that transit options are not fantastic. We want our community to support efforts for safer streets in Chicago. At age 12, in the city of Chicago, kids are no longer legally allowed to ride on the sidewalk. Are we building a city and are we driving in ways that are enabling families to choose biking for their kids?
Mom in the Spotlight: Rebecca Resman
Kids: Sloane, 7, and Max, 5
Bike: WorkCycles Bakfiets box-style cargo bike
Favorite gear for biking families? I could not live without my coffee cup holder. It holds my mommy fuel. If you want something a little more bike-y, bar mitts are great, but the coffee cup holder is first.
Best tip for families looking to start biking with their kids: Talk to people who are doing it. People that bike know how much fun it is, how much freedom it brings, and how easy it can be. They want to help you.
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This article originally published in Chicago Parent’s April 2020 print issue. Read the rest of the issue here.