Have you ever heard of a velocipede? What about a dandy horse? Or a bone shaker? No matter what you call it, the modern bicycle has become one of the most well-loved forms of recreation and transportation.
Chicago has more designated bicycle lanes than ever before (and those ubiquitous Divvy bikes!), but it still presents a challenge to bike city streets with young children in tow.
That’s something the folks at Kidical Mass hope to change.
“We want to normalize families riding in the city,” says Rebecca Resman, volunteer ride organizer in the Roscoe Village neighborhood.
Kidical Mass is a national movement started in 2008 to get more families excited about bike riding and to celebrate a visit by Ted White. White created a documentary about biking culture called “Return of the Scorcher” where the term Critical Mass was first coined.
Organizers in Kidical Mass seek to offer positive community building experiences through family bike rides in local neighborhoods.
The first Chicago ride was held in 2010 in Logan Square and has grown to include seven more neighborhoods.
Rides typically average 2-4 miles (about an hour long), while attendance can range from 30-125 people. Children are expected to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Kids on training wheels are OK, while younger riders are welcomed on trail-a-bikes, bike trailers and child seats attached to an adult bike.
Rides begin at a school playground or park and end at a fun stop such a park or pool, ice cream shop or special event. Attendees ride as a group, navigating intersections together while one volunteer stays back as the “sweeper” to insure no one gets left behind.
“We want to help people explore their own neighborhoods and see how accessible these places are on bikes,” Resman says.
Many neighborhoods do rides well into the fall, though most take what Resman calls a “wintermission,” with rides starting again in March or April after Chicago streets are clear of snow and ice.
Resman says they hope to arrange a few city-wide events this year.
Visit chicagokidicalmass.org for ride dates and locations.