True confession: I do not own a bike. Yes, I know. There is really no excuse for not having a working bike, especially when one is living car-free. To be fair, in the DC metro area where we lived for over five years with no car, we never had a need for bikes. We always lived within a 10- to 15-minute walk of a metro station, and we could get anyplace we needed to go on foot, by bus, by metro, or some combination thereof. As struggling grad students and then struggling "aw geez, we graduated in the middle of a recession" underemployed people, we never seemed to have the money to make such a purchase. Add to those factors small apartment living, with no storage space indoors for a bike, and here we are.
However, since moving back to the Pacific time zone late last year and eyeing the brand new, adorably optimistic bike lane painted on the local main road, I have been dreaming about how easily I could get from place to place, wind in my hair, on my very own grown-up two-wheeler. It has been a while, perhaps 15 years, since I sat on a bike, but I'm hoping it will come back to me like... well, you know.
Of course, the image in my mind of riding around town happily running errands has often included my two munchkins in tow, my two-year-old in a rear bike seat and my almost-two-month-old in a trailer in her car seat. Unfortunately, after a bit of Real Actual Research, I discovered that there doesn't seem to be a way to transport a baby under 9 or 12 months safely via bicycle in this country. To begin with, they don't make helmets sized for little babies, and besides, wearing a helmet in a car seat pushes the baby's neck into an awkward position and may restrict airflow. There is always the option of skipping the helmet, but ugh, that doesn't seem right either and may be illegal. This is not the Netherlands, or even Portland or San Francisco, where I would trust motorists not to injure us. These are the real, honest-to-goodness exurbs here, after all. The shock value of seeing humans on a human-powered machine might offer some protection from the automobiles, but I'm not going to count on it.
So, my dream of transporting both babes via bike will have to wait. In the meantime, I'll work on getting myself onto my very own bike and building up the leg muscles and confidence to carry them with me soon enough. Spokane Bike Swap, anyone?