Biking to school on Chicago streets – we survived!

We are an active family. We ride bikes together often. I have been saying since the fall that I’d like to drop Caleb off at school on bikes, as the trip is just about three miles each way. I have been dreaming of warm weather that would allow us to ride bikes to and from school.

So you can imagine Dan and Caleb’s surprise when I balked at the idea of actually following through on the idea of biking to school! When we ride bikes together, we have a system – Dan is first, Caleb is in the middle, and I am last. We make sure to stay on side streets, and we scope out stop signs and alleys with a purpose. We are like a well-oiled safe-bike-riding machine.

But for the three-mile trip to school with Caleb, I would be (gasp!) by myself! We would have to travel main roads to get there. If any of you have traveled on Damen during rush hour, you know exactly what I mean! Besides, shouldn’t a little person be older than Kindergarten age before they are allowed to tackle the chaotic streets of Chicago??

Under much pressure, and with a slight sense of adventure, I mapped out the route on the computer, and learned that we’d have to spend at least part of the trip on busy streets, but could do the majority of the trip without much traffic. I took a deep breath, strapped on our helmets, and off we went!

And to my surprise (but no one else’s), we did just fine! We got off track just twice (personal error). Clearly, the small slip of paper in my hand was not exactly accurate as directions! But, we figured it out and righted our way both times. We also discovered a homeless village on Damen, just north of Webster, under the overpass. Thankfully, the gentlemen living there found it as funny as Caleb did that he was weaving in and out of cardboard boxes, shopping carts, and people, sometimes riding up the steep wall to avoid a collision! I, however, was not laughing. Mostly, you could call it paralyzed. Or struck with fear. Not Caleb. He was delighted by the obstacle course!

We got to school unscathed, minus my heart stopping a dozen or so times. At the end of the day, his bike, with its cute little combination lock adorned with airplanes, ducks, and stars (instead of numbers) was in the same place we had left it. The trip took longer than I expected, but I imagine that next time we won’t get lost and we can shave five or ten minutes off our time. That’s right. I said next time. I’m getting to be as brave as my 6-year-old!

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