In late June, I was captivated by Emily Finch’s story. In an interview and ride with Jonathan Maus of BikePortland.org, she shared her transportation transformation. Just three years ago, she was shuttling her family around Williamsport, Pa., in a nine-passenger Suburban. Now, she travels exclusively by bike — with her six children.
“Watching Finch pedal her bakfiets cargo bike with four kids in the front, another one in a child seat behind her, and another one on a bike attached to hers via the rear rack, is a sight that not only inspires — it forces you to re-think what’s possible,” Maus wrote.
Well, we’re rethinking what’s possible next month at the National Women’s Bicycling Summit and Finch will join us to share her inspiring story. Read more about the Family Biking and Car Light Living session below and click here to register for the Summit. (Seats are going fast!)
Family Biking and Car Light Living
Cars, climate, clothes and cargo/kids — these “4Cs” are some of the big concerns we encounter when promoting the low car, high bike lifestyle. The last is often the hardest to address. Skeptics predict: “Just wait until you start a family. Then you’ll buy a car.” And yet, car-free and car-light living is neither radical nor all that unusual. Many families can’t afford to own and operate a car, and instead rely on walking and transit. For them, incorporating cycling can provide enormous health, financial and mobility benefits. In this session, we will tap into the expertise of the presenters and participants to share tips for 1) raising a car free or car light family 2) navigating the ages and stages of biking with kids, and 3) spreading the message about the benefits of a multi-modal lifestyle. Whether a family bikes by choice or by need, it’s one of the most powerful acts of advocacy–not just for cycling, but for the health and well-being of our children and communities.
- Gin Kilgore is a Chicago-based transportation advocate who was raised on a diet of walking, biking, transiting and cabbing in a car-free family, and is raising her son the same way. She has been a leader in many grassroots efforts that promote cycling and reduce car usage, such as Bike Winter, which helps keep cyclists in the saddle year round through workshops, events, giveaways and old-fashioned boosterism. She is also involved in Kidical Mass, which is a free, monthly family bike ride that builds community and shows passersby the many ways to ride with children. Her professional fields are education and transportation planning/advocacy, with jobs ranging from being a lead literacy teacher at a Chicago public elementary school, and serving as the first transportation planner focused on bike/ped issues at the Chicago area’s MPO. She currently works at the League of Illinois Bicyclists and Alta Planning + Design.
- Manal Aboelata is Managing Director at Prevention Institute, a national non-profit dedicated to achieving equitable health and safety outcomes through primary prevention. Manal’s work emphasizes policy and community-based approaches to improve access to healthy foods, prevent injuries and increase opportunities for safe physical activity. Manal coordinates The Strategic Alliance for Healthy Eating and Activity Environments, a statewide network of advocates working to bring healthy food and physical activity opportunities within reach of all Californians. Manal chairs the Joint Use Statewide Taskforce (JUST) which is working to increase community access to playgrounds through the policy and practice of joint use agreements between school districts and local governments. She serves on the Steering Committee for LA County’s Joint Use Moving People to Play Collaborative and is the Chairperson for the Safe Routes to School Action Team on School Siting and Joint Use. She is principle author of The Built Environment and Health: 11 Profiles of Neighborhood Transformation and authored the chapter, Community Engagement in Design and Planning in the text Making Healthy Places.
- Emily Finch is a car-free mother of six children, ranging from 2 to 11 years old. Two years ago, while pregnant and living in Pennsylvania, she made a decision that changed her life dramatically: She traded in her nine-passenger Suburban for a seven-passenger Bakfiets cargo bike. She lives in Portland, OR.
- Kit Hodge is the Deputy Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, leading our team of advocates and program staff. Ms. Hodge joined the staff in April 2009 as Great Streets Project Director and became Deputy Director in April 2011. She has a long and successful history of leading campaigns for more livable streets. She helped launch the much-lauded NYC Streets Renaissance Campaign while working at NYC’s Transportation Alternatives, where she also served as Campaigns Director and Events and Membership Director. She then did similar work at the Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago; this included, among other things, managing a coalition called Business Leaders for Transportation and helping to launch a large-scale placemaking initiative. She served as a member of the Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council in Chicago. Before joining our team, she directed a nonprofit focused on grassroots neighborhood improvement. Kit also has a background in strategic marketing. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College.
Carolyn SzczepanskiCarolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.