Monday, April 8, 2013

2013 BCC Rider Profile #5: The Brewster Family

The Brewsters:
What are your ages, roughly speaking? 
40s, 12, and 8

What is your most frequent destination on your bike? Everywhere within reasonable distance— mostly work and school, but regularly to grocery stores, Farmers’ Market, friends’ homes, parks and trails, bike shops, pet stores, restaurants, even dental checkups and weddings!
How many years have you been getting around by bike? Jack and Chloe have pedaled to school and accompanied their parents on trips ever since each has learned to ride or be strapped into a bike trailer. Stacey, a dedicated transit user, has ramped up her bike trips to work over the last five years, often combining bike with bus trips. Paul is a year-round daily rider - for the past nine years.
How many times have you participated in the Bicycle Commuter Contest? Combined our family has worn at least16 contests off our tires.
How did you hear about the BCC? Workplace. We enjoy everything the contest has to offer!
What got you started with practical cycling? Regular short trips made by a car are excessive when one weighs the cost and benefits of automotive travel. In 2005, we sold our second car to achieve a more active lifestyle and reduce our dependence on driving. We enjoy the freedom our car offers us, but cycling is liberating. The decision and the benefits were clear—making a larger portion of our local trips by bike is practical, economical and healthier than driving.

What are some of the benefits you have experienced from commuting by bike? Health, happiness, simplicity, and savings on transportation. Unarguably, cycling is more sensational than driving in every way. It has shown us that our streets are meant for moving people, not just cars. Daily cycling and walking has led us to become safer and more courteous drivers, and more frequent transit users too.
What are some of the challenges you have experienced, and how have you overcome them?  Most bike manufacturers don’t make youth bikes that offer practical form and function. It takes a little homework to find a bike that accompanies a child’s growth and development without spending a lot of money. Craigslist is a great resource for youth bikes. Buying used and having your bike mechanic reconfigure the stem, handlebar or other components can offer huge savings and a custom fit that new bikes most times can’t offer. Needless to say, every kid in the world should experience the joy of receiving new bike.
Winter Olympia road grime is sticky, gritty, oily, dark nasty stuff. Cleaning and maintaining four bikes is a chore, but it is absolutely necessary to keep the bikes running smoothly. Perhaps someday, Jack and Chloe will help Dad. Try asking us in a couple of years how this works out.
What is it that keeps you going, especially when the going is tough (weather, darkness, inertia, etc)? Nothing beats quality rain gear and reliable equipment. A bike should be comfortable, safe, and fully functional. Having confidence in your ability and your equipment provides immense peace of mind when riding in adverse conditions.
Year round practical cycling requires fortitude, and our family’s mindset to regular cycling focuses on making our trips as pleasant as possible. A cyclist must consider exposure to weather, traffic, and how to arrive at a destination safely with minimal fuss: clothing, gear, travel time, and route. With perseverance, a preference for cycling overtakes the idealization of driving. As one becomes more comfortable traveling by bike, trip preparation becomes second nature and you find yourself wanting to ride your bike as much and as far as you can.
Watching our kids grow on bikes and learning to ride safely in traffic is rewarding. They’re enthusiastic about recreational rides in fair weather – especially on trips involving Twister Donuts, Baskin Robbins, or the Bread Peddler. But they rarely complain about the weather or being too tired, and they never request a car ride to school (because they know their parent’s response). Most importantly, they view riding a bike for transportation as normal – not some second class or lesser form of travel.
What style of bike do you ride to commute? We rate performance by comfort, utility, and reliability. Mom and Dad both ride touring bikes – steel, versatile, and dependable. The kids ride 24s with mustache handle bars for upright positioning and eyes on the road – they’re so cute with their Nutcase helmets. All our daily rides are set up with wide tires, fenders, racks, bags, and lighting.
Any words of wisdom for the beginning commuter? People who start jogging don’t become marathon runners within a week or a month. The same goes for bicycle commuting. One has to discover the benefits of cycling. The only way to achieve this awareness is to try it and dedicate some time and resources to it.
Don’t be afraid - risk can be managed. Learn bicycle handling skills and traffic safety. If you ride with kids, you have to observe and respond to their riding behavior. Teach young riders to be predictable and respect the same rules that motorists must follow.
Riding slow can be as fun as riding fast. Everyday street clothing is fashionable and is suitable for the majority of bike trips. Try it –cycling just one day a week or two days a month is better than none!

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