My name is Lindsay Bliek and I am a mother to two young girls, currently aged 8 and 5. I have chosen to primarily use active transportation to accomplish at least the basic trips in our day-to-day life, such as school commutes or swimming lessons, and we most often use bikes. Especially our beloved bakfiets.
My cycling expertise stems from personal experience as well as some formal coaching. I have been cycling for over thirty years and the last 9 have been either pregnant or with a kid or two on board. Prior to that, I was an avid daily commuter from 2008-2011 to both university and then work, in Vancouver, Canada. Before that, I was a fair weather commuter for university in Montréal (and an all season walker). Prior to that, I mostly cycled for pleasure, mountain biking on the North Shore, in Calgary, and Fernie, for my teen years until my mid-twenties (and have picked it up again with enthusiasm in the last two seasons). Near the end of high school, I spent a year training and being coached up at the University of Calgary’s Olympic Oval under their National Cycling Training and Development Centre, which was amazing for my fitness! Unfortunately, I chose a year of travel and saving up for university over the expense of racing and gear, so I didn’t pursue the amateur athlete route beyond training, except for a brief stint at the high school level early on in Vancouver.
Family Biking Expertise
I chose to maintain my normal activities throughout both of my pregnancies, which included daily commuting with my first and then cargo biking periodically with my second. I rode all the way through and greatly appreciated the refreshing rides in my first pregnancy and swear they helped to stave off morning sickness, for me. I was fortunate to have midwives who supported and even encouraged my decision in my first pregnancy; I admittedly hid my cycling from my more traditional care providers in my second pregnancy until I finally secured a midwife near the end of my third trimester, then my secret was out (and supported again).
Trustworthiness: Why start This Mom Bikes?
I was confused about riding with an infant with my first because I could not reconcile common North American recommendations to not ride with a child until they were at least one year of age, with the fact that other very developed countries (such as the Netherlands) were recommending more sensible things like the infant having good neck control, or waiting 7-9 weeks, if that. The argument against cycling with an infant in North America was not founded in science but rather fear of shaking baby too much with road vibrations; I think that I would have been more sympathetic to their logic if they had focused on our general lack of safe infrastructure for family cycling in North America. Alas, common sense won over in me and I was blessed to live two blocks from a world-class network of off-street pathways that was actually quite functional for me (when I factored in the odd quiet roadway that was required to get to a playground or grocery store). So, we rode. And once number two had arrived and I had healed up from giving birth (as well as a wicked sinus infection I acquired from my newly minted preschooler), we hit the pathways once more, this time for the preschool commute. And, so it began all over again. I was now a commuter, with kids.
In my confusion, I read a lot. I researched bike configurations. The academic in me took over. I felt overwhelmed with information, especially in my state of constant breastfeeding and lack of sleep. Once I had worked through these ideas and had number two, I really felt the urge to share this information with other families to help support them in their decision-making process, as well as to make their fact-finding missions as straightforward as possible. Thus was born This Mom Bikes. A website for all parents interested in family cycling.
What’s in a name?
Why This “Mom” Bikes? It is definitely a sarcastic hit at the soccer mom stereotype, emphasizing my choice to use the cargo bike as much as possible, as opposed to the minivan (which we do own, I might add, because if you’re going to have a family car, minivan’s rock). The other side to this branding is a sexist play on if a woman (especially a mother) can do something, then most other people can, too, especially if they aren’t doing it with kids and especially if they’re male. Either way, take offence at it or laugh, but definitely re-examine your transportation choices, especially if you are heavily car dependent, because if this mom can do it, so can you: that is my hope.
Don’t strive for perfection, aim for little changes
I freely admit that I am not car free. I would argue that we are ‘car lite’ and we do own a car (we don’t opt to rent or use a car share). (We were early days car share users in Montréal and we have only ever been a one-car family.) I am also not perfect. I try and keep a routine mode for my regular commutes, like school, but sometimes the car does make more sense for my day.
I started by challenging myself to commute by active transportation at least one way for the initially two days of preschool with my eldest. That grew to both ways three days per week and things just got easier from there. Even if it was just walking the dog to school, we moved and I noticed the benefits at a personal level, but also a financial level, and I still keep my fingers crossed for the extra long term benefits to the environment and my kids’ level of independence.
Why make the effort?
Cycling with kids has definitely been selfish to a certain degree. I am not very pleasant to be around if I don’t get exercise and building that into my day as a full-time stay-at-home parent was proving to be a challenge. So I built it in to my day through active transportation. It was much more fun for all of us, thankfully, so we stuck with it.
My other goal is to grow the skills in my kids that are necessary to be independent. I strongly believe that active transportation can give that to them.
I have undergraduate degrees from both McGill University (B.Sc.) and UBC (B.Ed.). My science degree is in the study of human physiology as well as a minor in the social studies of human medicine (i.e. health geography, history, medical anthropology, etc.). The intersection of health, childhood, and transportation all interest me greatly. My educational background gives me a perspective that informs my daily habits, my writing, and any advocacy that I may conduct via my blog, social media, or at a local level.
I have lived and cycled year round in rainy winter and snowy winter. Both have their challenges and charms. I have ridden pregnant, with babies, infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and now school-aged kids. My kids are starting to ride their own bikes to school, at least through temperatures that we can keep their paws warm in.
I have raced a bit, but now I prefer to just mountain bike, tour or bikepack, and cruise around town for fun and function.
However, I am not an engineer nor a planner (although I admittedly am married to a very passionate one). But, I feel strongly that my laymen perspective has value in the fight for change on our streets.
My intentions and how to help
I am in this blogging game in order to help get families rolling at whatever stage they’re at and I am here to answer your questions or help out in whatever way I can. You can help spread the family biking love by sharing any of my work or when you visit my site, be sure to click on one more link before you leave. I do participate in a few affiliate programs in order to help cover my costs and some of my time; if you purchase anything via an affiliate link it does not cost you anything extra but I do receive a small commission. I will absolutely still refer to products that do not have affiliate programs if I think they are a good option, Frog bikes are a great example of that as are pretty much all cargo bikes!
But, all I really ask is that you help spread the word of active transportation, even for families, so that we can collectively make a difference!
My online resumé
Here is a link to a list of my recent work related to This Mom Bikes.