Family downshifts to 2-wheel lifestyle
Thursday, December 08, 2005
By Linda Baker
Caryn Corwin is a soccer mom on a bike. Ever since she and her husband sold their '98 Volvo station wagon almost 11/2 years ago, Corwin has shuttled her two children to school, play dates and extracurricular activities -- all on two wheels instead of four.
"We got rid of our car to choose a slower speed of life," says the 34-year-old Corwin, an art teacher at Rose City Park Elementary School.
Corwin says she used to spend an hour a day in the car driving places she didn't need to go.
"I'd go to the dollar store as an outing with the girls," she says. "When I go someplace now, it's planned, deliberate, conscious."
On a recent Sunday afternoon, Corwin towed daughters Cybelle Corwin, 6, and Delilah White, 3, in a bike trailer to Wild Oats Natural Marketplace, about 12 blocks from her inner Southeast home.
"I've never been in such good shape my entire life," Corwin says. "The girls keep getting bigger and heavier."
Corwin, who rides a blue, retro-style bike -- "I call it my Cadillac," she says -- fits two large bags of groceries in a pouch in back of the trailer. The rest of the food fills two bike panniers, with another small bag resting on Cybelle and Delilah's laps.
Living a car-free life works best when work, school and play are close to each other, Corwin says.
Cybelle attends Sunnyside Environmental School, just 15 blocks from home. Delilah goes to a Waldorf preschool off Division Street. The family doctor, dentist and bank are all within 20 blocks of their home.
And Corwin's husband, Sacha White, works less than a mile away. He owns Vanilla Bicycles, a custom bike frame building company.
"Our world is small enough to make this work," Corwin says.
Not that distance is a deterrent. Last summer, Corwin and her girls rode to Creston Pool -- about 4-1/2 miles round trip -- five days a week for swimming lessons. She's careful, but not paranoid, about safety.
"The risk on the freeway every day is more than any risk we face."
Rain's another story. Corwin admits winter weather makes it harder to hop on a bike. "The rain is an adjustment," she says.
Saving money on gas, reducing car pollution and raising a bike-friendly generation are some of the rewards.
"Cybelle once told me: 'Mom, I think we're the only family that rides their bikes all the time. Isn't that great?' "