The Bike Mom Summit

I’ve found cycle shop heaven! Behold Firth and Wilson, purveyors of cargo bikes and cycling apparel.

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Unfortunately it’s in Philadelphia, several thousand miles from where I currently live. But, that aside, it’s truly the most glorious of places and everyone should go and buy something there as soon as possible.  

Unknown to them, Firth and Wilson were the official starting point of the first International Bike Mom Summit and the delegates (me, Megan (Kidical Mass DC), Marni and Dena (Kidical Mass Philadelphia) plus seven of our children and my husband)) were soon rampaging round the shop, fiddling with everything and blocking the doorway.. 

My family arrived early to try out the various cargo bike options. My son liked the look of this elegant, wooden Babboe, but my husband preferred the look of the robust straps of the Gazelle. Both bikes were surprisingly stable, comfortable and rather like cycling a well upholstered armchair but the Gazelle won the security prize and was duly rented.

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Some time later we all managed to ride off in a cargo bike convoy, causing gasps of admiration as we went (I think that’s what it was anyway)…

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I’d already carried out some non-academic study (drinking a glass of wine in a pavement cafe) of cycling provision the night before so between that and the rides between the park and museum I noted the following:

Buffered cycle lanes – they are not alternative parking bays people!

Philadelphia has 11 miles of buffered cycle lanes, which unfortunately some people see as 11 miles worth of additional parking opportunities. These FedEx and UPS drivers were very lucky not to be put on the naughty step for forcing our convoy into the road.

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Cycling parking for the family bike

As a first time user of a cargo bike I hadn’t thought about the parking implications because I’ve seen so many of them happily accommodated in Copenhagen. However, in Philadelphia it wasn’t exactly ‘park where we want to‘, more ‘park where we’ll fit and the children won’t get run over’. Cycle parking needs to be as inclusive as the bikes and the route (saying ‘everyone is welcome’ doesn’t make a ride inclusive by the way..).

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Give Mom A Bike Lane! 

Dena was keen to show me ‘the protected cycle lane’. Yes, the one. Here it is in the distance:

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I’m sure it’s lovely but it wasn’t entirely helpful as we wanted to go in the opposite direction. Looking at the fast moving traffic in the direction we wanted to go we opted for radical law breaking and used the pavement:

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Despite the above, Philadelphia is a lovely, compact and ridable city. Drivers seemed relaxed and courteous and I generally felt remarkably safe cycling through the city with my son in the Gazelle. The buffered bike lanes and clear sharrows gave me a sense that we were welcome to ‘share the road’ even if they wouldn’t actually protect us. 

 

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Protection or Paint?

Philadelphia is trying out green paint to indicate potential conflict zones but we also saw a number of entirely green painted lanes. I would rather they saved the paint and flipped the bike lane over so that we could ride inside the parking zone and out of the dooring zone…

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Never mind Penny in Yo Pants, I want to get my Bike on the Bus!

My amazing friend Jo invented Penny in Yo’ Pants  at the first CycleHack as the perfect solution to a problem faced by many female cyclists. I’m not particularly in need of it myself as I really don’t care who sees my underwear (half the medical profession in Edinburgh watched me give birth so displaying my knickers to the general public holds no fear for me). However I’m going to ask Jo to look at bikes on buses in Scotland at the next Cyclehack as there must be something peculiar to the UK that stops us doing what every other civilised country manages – providing a couple of cycle spaces on buses. The fear of a damaged bike, an ill child, terrible weather and an unexpected purchase can all prevent parents cycling with their children unless there is a ‘back up plan’. A bus that will take you, your child(ren) and your bike looks like a great back up plan to me..

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Bike Moms of the World Unite!

Many thanks to Dena, Megan and Marni for a superb day of cycling and (half) conversations!

I love you guys!

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4 thoughts on “The Bike Mom Summit

  1. I look forward to the day that the Scottish cargo bike market is big enough to support a dedicated cargo bike retailer. However, they would need to be able to sell more that one per month to be viable and Scotland as a whole has some way to do to get to that level of sales.

    On the bus side, it is strange that it hasn’t happened here, I have seen it working in Europe, and heard talk of introducing in some part of Scotland (the Borders & some parts of the Highland), but it hasn’t happened on the ground. That said, I have known drivers with the smaller local bus companies allow people to take their bike on the bus. However the likes of Lothian Buses, First Bus and Stagecoach, expect subsidies before they would consider providing improved customer service.

    1. Firth and Wilson also sell solo bikes and do repairs/servicing so they aren’t restricted to cargo bike sales – they’ve only been open a year so hopefully their friendly and engaging service will keep them in business whilst the cargo bike market increases!

      The bus business is peculiar – I’ve seen bike racks in Vancouver too – it would be interesting to see how many people would use them. Most of the Philly racks I saw were empty..

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