When we went car-lite a few years ago, I’m pretty sure our kids thought we went off the deep end. At that time they were 12, 14, and 16 and the idea of their parents being seen around our conservative suburb as the “weird hippie couple on bikes” had to be a living nightmare. Fast forward three years and surprisingly, they’re pretty well-indoctrinated. Our now 19-year-old son is a serious transpo bicyclist who routinely rides his Breezer to college and other events 10-20 miles away at all hours of the day and night. Our youngest, who has not quite made the transition to using her bike for all of her local transportation needs, has at least embraced bike culture and loves to participate in tweed rides and other events. And while they were initially petrified at the thought of it, now they seem downright proud to have the old folks out setting a good example in the neighborhood.
One of the little challenges of getting groups of teenagers around from here to there is the fact that everything seems to be decided at the last minute. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure the proverbial best laid plans of mice and men were put to rest by a group of teenagers. Add to this the fact that our kids have chosen to wait until they’re older to get their driver’s licenses, and we’ve had to get creative at times.
One handy tool is the cargo bike. Most people probably think of the cargo bike as a way to haul things such as groceries, building supplies, or furniture. What they may not realize is that a bike like the Mundo (shown above) can also tow a bicycle and carry passengers, replacing an SUV in the process. For example, a mother of two can tow one bike behind her to after school pick-up, give the second bike to the older teenager to ride, and give the younger kid a lift on the back of the cargo bike (assuming the teenagers don’t mind being seen with Mom… LOL). In the case of the Yuba, there’s also a child seat available if there’s a third, younger child in the family. Mixing and matching these various options goes a long way toward meeting the transportation needs of spontaneous and fickle teenagers.
We keep saying this over and over, but we’re firm believers in the idea of blooming where you’re planted. We also believe getting creative can lead to many wonderful and inspiring transportation solutions. Our family is living proof that even with a house full of teenagers in the suburbs, it’s possible to simultaneously limit your car use while maintaining familial bliss, and yes, even have a grand time while doing it.