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Lack of Family Biking Groups

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Lack of Family Biking Groups

Old 08-13-12, 01:15 PM
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Lack of Family Biking Groups

It seems like there is an abundance of social groups around here for adults without kids. I'm not sure how to take it. I can't find other families cycling unless they label themselves avid cyclists riding 22km/h. My 8yo and 6yo are on their own bikes. If Madsen finally comes through with the rain cover, the 3 kids can sit in the back. But I'm not sure what speed we would be going.

Generally speaking, I'm feeling a little alienated from biking culture in my experience to date. I suppose I could try to start a family group, but I'm not seeing other families riding their bikes unless it's for sport, not transportation. Even inside Toronto, it doesn't look like families are really riding. And even if I wanted to join a family biking group in Toronto, I could get only get 1 bike down there. Not 4 or 5 of us down there with our bikes. And I don't see any signs of these groups existing.

No real point to my post. Just lamenting.
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Old 08-13-12, 07:41 PM
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A couple of things come to mind here:
- you'd expect adults with no kids to have more group interaction 'cause they've got a lot of time on their hands. Adults with kids have a lot less time.
- If you have an opportunity to attend any advocacy meetings or do volunteer works with bike-related groups, you'll certainly run into more people who are in a similar frame of mind to yourself. By that I mean less of the racing bicycle culture and more of the bicycle-as-a-means-of-transportation frame of mind.

Do you feel you need a support group... or are you just looking for like-minded friends? My thought is that you can get a lot of ideas and support from groups like the Bike Forums, but if you are looking for friends, that's another story...

If there's truly nothing available locally, another thought is that you might try to start your own group, like an easy Meetup at a coffee shop. Just call it an interest group.
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Old 08-13-12, 08:35 PM
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It shouldn't be too difficult to find other families to ride with.You could talk to your own friends, put notices in neighborhood schools, LBSs, etc., and of course the social media. You could pitch it as a bike transportation group--riding together with the kids to the beach, zoo, and so forth--rather than as a "bike club" that emphasizes riding for its own sake.

I agree with gerv that it might be better to schedule the first meeting as an interest group rather than try to plan an actual ride all by yourself.
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Old 08-13-12, 08:41 PM
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I'm sure not all groups start off with hundreds of members... they start small and add members.
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Old 08-14-12, 09:19 AM
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I was trying to say there aren't bike as transportation groups directly in my area. Without kids, I could go meet up with groups in TO or other cities further afield.

I thought it would be fun for me and the kids if we had other families to ride with. I like what we're doing, I just dislike being the only family here going carfree. I've volunteered to participate in a local gps biking transportation study. All I saw were single adult men with bikes there. I've been looking for any biking advocacy groups around here and not off in Toronto or a few towns over. I've got nothing. I'm getting the feeling that we are very alone in this.
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Old 08-14-12, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Suburban
I was trying to say there aren't bike as transportation groups directly in my area. Without kids, I could go meet up with groups in TO or other cities further afield.
Sorry, I guess I'm not clear on what kind of group that is. I thought you wanted to go onrides with other families.
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Old 08-14-12, 10:01 AM
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Is it possible to work with one of your bike shops to get something set up? I'm thinking of something you'd start, but using the shop as a way to relay the information. The bike shop is a place cyclists will use regularly and a good shop will be able to get the word out to a lot of people, through a web site, an e-mail blast or Facebook. If you have a shop which carries children's bikes or bikes and accessories for the non-competitive riders, this may be a place to start.

Also, if you're part of any network which works with parents, possibly through a church or a parent group at a school, toss the idea out when you're there. If a few of you are interested, maybe that's all it takes to get something started.
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Old 08-14-12, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Suburban
I was trying to say there aren't bike as transportation groups directly in my area. Without kids, I could go meet up with groups in TO or other cities further afield.

I thought it would be fun for me and the kids if we had other families to ride with. I like what we're doing, I just dislike being the only family here going carfree. I've volunteered to participate in a local gps biking transportation study. All I saw were single adult men with bikes there. I've been looking for any biking advocacy groups around here and not off in Toronto or a few towns over. I've got nothing. I'm getting the feeling that we are very alone in this.
It takes a massive force of will to hold a group together. Someone has to put out the effort to set a date and time to meet and a place to ride to or a MUP to use. Some LBSs close to me had a Family ride on Saturdays. But they had to get someone from a local club to lead the ride. Club riders seem willing to do it but find the family groups to be less than committed and so the rides become every two weeks to once a month. When the leader can't make it the group falls apart. Years ago my wife and I attended just such a group and our son started riding wit the group with forst a 16 inch BMX bike and finally moved up to a 20 inch wheeled BMX. I was impressed that he could stay with the group for ten miles. After one summer they took a break for the Fall and never restarted. I do see family rides put on by club riders but they tend to be the families of the club and only happen a few times a year.
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Old 08-14-12, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Roody
Sorry, I guess I'm not clear on what kind of group that is. I thought you wanted to go onrides with other families.
A group for families who aren't serious cyclists. Even if we didn't meet up regularly, I see cycling events in other cities that are more family friendly.
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Old 08-14-12, 11:22 AM
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My LBS has children's bikes and a few cruisers, but all of the accessories are targeted at serious cyclists. Talking to employees about our plans to go car free devolved into listening to two employees list off the reasons why they couldn't go car free. When I wanted a double kickstand, they told me manufacturer's aren't making those. When I wanted a child's bike seat that went to the same limits as the Maxi's, I was told no one makes them. When I asked about helmets that didn't make me look style challenged, they didn't have anything else available. When my husband was looking for a folding bike to take on the train, they didn't have anything. The next option for bike shops around here is Walmart or Zellers. They are it. 30km away is a part time store that sells only tandem bikes.

Our LBS seems nice enough, but they aren't geared to us at all. I'm nervous to buy a cargo bike or anything of the sort given they haven't been helpful for parts or repairs for the Dahon. If I was into performance racing, bmx-ing or mtb, I'm sure they'd be great. But we're not their target customer and we're going to them due to lack of options around here. If they'd sold a Nihon or Babboe, we would have bought something like that and gone to them for repairs. But they don't sell them and they don't have parts.

I just get the impression that the area has a complete lack of interest in family cycling anywhere that doesn't involve loading bikes on car racks and going off to trails. We don't know anyone that currently bikes or has an interest in biking. The more I think about it, the more demoralizing it is. Maybe my expectations were just too high. I saw families cycling online. I figured there'd be families cycling here too.
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Old 08-14-12, 11:26 AM
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are there MUPs local to you to ride on? do you ever see other families riding on them? get to know them and see if they want to ride together sometime.
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Old 08-14-12, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Suburban
I suppose I could try to start a family group,
Try it. If you are on Facebook, start a group and start a ride from the same point every week. Invite everyone you know who has kids. Try it for a month or two and see who else shows up.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 08-14-12, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by himespau
are there MUPs local to you to ride on? do you ever see other families riding on them? get to know them and see if they want to ride together sometime.
Yes we ride on them. I'll be on the look out.

Back in the spring, I saw a mother with kids in older grades riding with her two kids to school pretty often. But not a sign of her once school got out.
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Old 08-14-12, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Doohickie
Try it. If you are on Facebook, start a group and start a ride from the same point every week. Invite everyone you know who has kids. Try it for a month or two and see who else shows up.
Maybe, I'm not the person that starts these sorts of things. I usually quietly do my own thing. But biking is a lot more public. Home birthing and cloth diapering aren't choices that other people see me making. I say nothing unless prompted. Biking attracts more attention.
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Old 08-14-12, 12:54 PM
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So? Just do it. If there is interest, I bet you'll find someone pretty quickly that will assume the lead and you can hand it over.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 08-14-12, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Suburban

I just get the impression that the area has a complete lack of interest in family cycling anywhere that doesn't involve loading bikes on car racks and going off to trails. We don't know anyone that currently bikes or has an interest in biking. The more I think about it, the more demoralizing it is. Maybe my expectations were just too high. I saw families cycling online. I figured there'd be families cycling here too.

Maybe if you put it in perspective it wouldn't be so depressing or as you say demorializing. Cycling in the western hemisphere is a small minority event. In the US it is less than 5 percent I believe. There are some towns where more people commute by bike but I am not sure how many are car free with families. Of those that do cycle a small number are car free or ride folders. Just take a survey in LCF and see how many are car free with a family. Just look at all the different groups in Bike Forums and see how many are car free, even in LCF. So you have made strides if you can keep your family car free and can find even one other family to team up with. You are doing well.
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Old 08-14-12, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Suburban
Maybe, I'm not the person that starts these sorts of things. I usually quietly do my own thing. But biking is a lot more public. Home birthing and cloth diapering aren't choices that other people see me making. I say nothing unless prompted. Biking attracts more attention.

I think that a lot of people that bike for transportation vs. just biking for sport/ "fun" are probably just quietly doing their own thing, too. I imagine that if a person just got done hauling kids to and from school, going to work, picking up groceries, etc. the last thing they want to do is go on a "fun" ride. Some may want to, but they are probably looking for a group to ride with, the same as yourself.

Lots of people sit around and wait for things to come to them.


Edited to add: After posting, I realized that this may be interpreted as disrespectful. That's not my intention.

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Old 08-14-12, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Suburban
I saw families cycling online. I figured there'd be families cycling here too.
Where is here?
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Old 08-14-12, 03:35 PM
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Starting a group for those with a common interest isn't that hard. I've done it myself, although mine was not cycling-related. Find at least one like-minded person, work out the details such as time and place and then spread the word. Between your community newspaper's events listings (which are often free,) Facebook and other social media sites, posters at prominent places around town and any other ways to tell the community, some will show up to ride with you. It may also be worth your time to contact your community's parks and recreation department. Often, the people there are eager to see recreational opportunities which have started at the grassroots level. They may be able to help promote what you're doing.
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Old 08-14-12, 03:38 PM
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The boy scouts do events a few times a year.
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Old 08-14-12, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Newspaperguy
Starting a group for those with a common interest isn't that hard. I've done it myself, although mine was not cycling-related. Find at least one like-minded person, work out the details such as time and place and then spread the word. Between your community newspaper's events listings (which are often free,) Facebook and other social media sites, posters at prominent places around town and any other ways to tell the community, some will show up to ride with you. It may also be worth your time to contact your community's parks and recreation department. Often, the people there are eager to see recreational opportunities which have started at the grassroots level. They may be able to help promote what you're doing.
Maybe check out this site and see if anything emerges. https://www.meetup.com/
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Old 08-14-12, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by longbeachgary
The boy scouts do events a few times a year.
Good idea. their handbook for the cycling merit badge is a fantastic rewource for kids and adults who want to do "normal riding."
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Old 08-14-12, 10:24 PM
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I think the OP's use of the phrase "serious cyclists" was what confused me. She was referrng to performance/racing/extreme fitness types--types who really arne't very serious about cycling at all.

When I think of serious cyclists, I think of people who ride for transportation, who ride with a serious purpose such as going to work or fetching groceries, who ride even when it isn't so much fun because cycling is their main transportation.
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Old 08-15-12, 03:57 AM
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Do a google search for "Kidical Mass" these are becoming popular in cities where the cycling population is growing. You may just be a trend setter and don't know it.

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Old 08-17-12, 09:05 PM
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A lot of replies here. Not sure where to start.

Roody - By serious cyclists, I'm thinking of the guys in their spandex ringing their bells like crazy when me and the kids are in the way on a MUPs. While I use bikes for transportation, I'm not taking it THAT seriously as some. Also, I haven't given up fashion for cycling. My heels aren't going anywhere.

There is a Kidical Mass in Toronto. We're in Brampton Ontario. If the train ran on weekends, I'd love to go. Unless it's just a couple of us going, we leave bikes at home when we take transit. It's too difficult to juggle otherwise.

I don't want to be a trendsetter. I don't want to be the first. I've seen blogs for a families that are carfree hailing from Portland, Massachusetts, Toronto, Vancouver, New York that were all cycling. I thought if there were enough families to easily find their blogs online, they would be a minority of a larger number out there that didn't post blogs.

If I try to set something up and fall flat on my face, I'm not the sort to just shrug it off. I'm not going to set up my own group. I think I'll just suck up my disappointment. It's a shame.
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