Kidical Mass FAQ
Kidical Mass Seattle has outlasted my blogging and ride-leading stamina, and is now organized and promoted by the indefatigable Madi Carlson, bikemama extraordinaire. Get updates on familybike.org, and on the Seattle Family Biking facebook group.
Is this a pint-sized Critical Mass?
No. It's a cute name, that is all. We're a family-friendly, easy-going, law-abiding ride. Our purpose is to teach kids, parents and caregivers safe riding skills and provide a ride in which to practice them. We are creating awareness for the growing presence of kids and families on bikes and the need for all road users to respect other users of the road. We are also bringing together families who bike in an effort to provide a positive community experience that will show children how much fun riding your bike can be, and that you can get there by bike!
When and where are the rides?
We'll be having them on a monthly basis, and will tend to alternate a bit between Friday early evenings and Saturday mornings, to accomodate various ages and schedules. Locations will vary around Seattle, and we'll try to match our rides with fun destinations or special events.
Is it safe for my child to participate?
We move very slowly along generally bike-friendly routes, obeying traffic laws, with plentiful experienced adults, and a sweeper to make sure no one gets left behind. And in general, riding as a group feels safer for most folks, and it certainly does increase visibility to motorists. But it's up to you, the parent, to decide if your child has the riding skills and impulse control to be in the street. And of course, you can choose to walk on the sidewalk or drop out at any time if things don't feel safe for you and yours. If that happens, please let us know, as this is meant to be a safe, inclusive ride.
What about little kids?
Well, my 2 year old wouldn't miss it. She rides on my bike; sometimes we bring hers to the destination. We also hope to include children on training wheels, run-bikes, trail-a-bikes, and their own bikes. But younger children will need closer parental supervision, and as a general rule of thumb, you'd be safest in the configuration that you normally use to ride on public streets. If your child is a run-bike demon at the playground but has trouble with a straight line and stops, then I'd look for another option for the streets part of KM rides.
This all sounds just super. When should I pick up my kids?
Oops. This ride is an informal gathering of families that like bikes. Please ensure that every child is there with a responsible adult. We all look out for one another, but we do need parents and caregivers to be closely supervising their own kids.
What should we bring?
Bikes and helmets (it's the law, see here for more Seattle bike law tidbits), as well as lights, weather-appropriate clothes, and snacks. Some rides may involve a potluck, most will involve treats. Bonus points for bells, banners, boas, and other bike finery. If you're wondering about ways to bike with young children, that's what this website is all about. Poke around here, or come out to Kidical Mass and see what works for other families who ride.
What if it rains?
This is Seattle, after all. I'd say if it's a typical gray day, drizzle off and on, we ride, diminished in number but strong in spirit, more ice cream for all. If there's steady rain, we cancel. I'm all for riding in the rain, but many of our participants are not. Happy to hear what folks think about this policy, though. I'll post on this site and email folks who've signed up if we cancel, and have someone at the start point as well.
Who can participate?
Anyone! Bring out your kid, or the kid in you, and join us!
What might Kidical Mass look like?
Until we shoot some movies of our own, this is from one of the Kidical Mass Portland rides, recorded by the indefatigable Jonathan Maus of bikeportland.org. I'm not sure what the local laws in Portland are, but in Seattle, it's illegal to ride more than 2 abreast, except on bikeways. I don't feel too militant about it on a quiet street with no other motorized traffic, but on streets with traffic, we'll be emphasizing that. Hard to say if that dad was "corking the intersection" at 1:24, or just crossing very slowly in a "helping the ducklings safely across" sort of way. Again, we'll be aiming to keep things safe, legal, courteous, and FUN!
Thanks to Shane Rhodes for some of the FAQ answers