Moms and Dads
Here’s Why This Mom Loves Biking Around The City (with two kids in tow!)
Surprisingly enough, there are some good things that have come about as a a result of the pandemic. We’re spending more time with our kids, we’re getting more involved in their school work, we’re finally realizing the benefits of being outdoors and best of all, our country’s finally become bike-friendly!
As a result, more people are using their bikes to get around town. But what happens when you add two wee kids to the mix? We spoke to Corinna Pettyjohn of 2 Wheels 3 Hearts on why she loves biking around the metro with her kids and why it’s the best decision she’s made as a mom:
What made you decide to start biking?
My family and I have been lucky enough so far to live near our jobs, so even through one, then two kids, we’ve always managed quite happily without a car. But when the quarantine started, we realized we’d have to make much bigger grocery runs.
So my husband suggested I get a bike to haul at least a week’s worth of groceries at a time. I called up a bike shop, which was closed, but they’d let me pay online and pick it up outside the shop. I walked over, rode the bike back home and haven’t looked back. Since then I’ve gotten a second bike (A second hand Japanese mamachari really designed to carry kids) and the kids are huge fans of biking with their mom!
What do you love most about it?
I love that it’s active, I love that it’s clean. I love that I can really get to know the places I travel through so much better than when you’re seeing them from behind tinted windows. I love that I can show people that it’s possible not to depend on a car. It’s exercise. It’s a learning experience. It’s family time. It’s activism!
Have you run into any trouble so far?
It’s all been easier than I expected. Heat, pollution, all of that were almost non-issues. Even putting two kids on the bike, I had to practice, but it was not nearly as hard as I’d anticipated. During ECQ drivers were generally really patient with cyclists.
These days traffic is worse, and many drivers don’t know or care that passing a bike very closely can be really dangerous to the cyclist, while others actively try to intimidate or catcall cyclists (fortunately it hasn’t happened while I was with the kids!).
Surprisingly I’ve found parking a little annoying. Partly because there are so many people on bikes these days, a lot of bike racks are super full. Many establishments don’t have them at all, or have them way down in the basement. Going up a parking ramp on a bike is no fun – even cars can struggle with it. Bikes are human powered, and mine weighs probably over 100lbs with the two kids on it, so I try really hard not to park in basements!
Is it safe?
Yes and no. Makati’s doing some wonderful things, like the new bike lanes on Ayala. But it’s got a long way to go. Like in most places, decision makers are still seeing the city from their cars and making decisions from that perspective.
Also, it’s really more fun! And safer in the context of a pandemic. Plus not having to be at the mercy of our unpredictable timetables and unsafe drivers is priceless.
What’s the best reaction you’ve gotten about biking with two kids?
Most reactions are really positive. Especially since starting the blog, I get a lot of encouraging messages, people that think it’s really cool. I’ve also gotten a bunch of messages from people who have been transporting their kids on a bike, or who remember riding with their own parents. So this isn’t something new or radical, even though it can be surprising to some people.
Will you continue to bike even after the GCQ has been lifted?
Absolutely! It’s still a better way to haul groceries than a car for me. When I have to physically go back to work it will also be much easier to get there and to my tutorials after school. It will be great not to be at the mercy of ride-sharing apps, unpredictable public transport, or the Manila traffic jams that go 2 km in three hours.
I’ve got to get my husband confident on a bike so we can go places all together – I’m already dreaming of taking the kids to the aquarium, and heading to staycations by bike. Maybe one day we’ll even ride out of town, to a beach or something!
Why should other moms start biking?
Do it for the kids! I don’t even mean you have to take them on a bike with you. Do it for their future. The way we use cars now isn’t sustainable – for the environment, for the city, for their safety.
Also, fewer cars on the road will mean less pollution. Which, by the way, is a major reason I choose to transport my kids on a bike. Did you know that you’re exposed to more pollution in a car than on a bike? Seriously, there are studies on this! Car air conditioning systems don’t filter out the most harmful PM 2.5 particles, which just end up circulating in there with you, so you actually end up inhaling more.
Can you imagine how much nicer and safer the city streets would be with fewer cars? We could have more space for play and restaurants, we could even close some streets to cars altogether for markets and recreation, put in more plants, get to talk to our neighbors.
When you think about all the space that’s lost to cars, all the lives (12000+ a year in the Philippines! And that’s not even counting deaths due to pollution.) it hardly seems worth it to keep driving as much as we do. So if you can find a way to replace even some car trips with something else, wouldn’t you want to try? And you never know, you might just find it as empowering and fun as I did!
Have you gotten any weird reactions from people on the street?
Nothing unexpected. We’ve had people worry for our safety, but I knew that would happen. Most people on the street are really nice—we get a lot of smiles and waves. My kids especially love to pass dogs hanging out of car windows! Someone asked last week if we were Dutch, and some cyclists ask me where to get a child seat.