Remember a couple weeks ago when family biking was trending big time? Well, I felt decidedly untrendy for our latest trip to the orthodontist. We bike-bus-bus-bike to Issaquah fairly often and the bus always provides new and interesting experiences, but today was just bizarre.
While exiting our first of four buses (four round trip, that is) the bus driver said to me, “So I take it you’re the nanny?” He caught me off guard, reminiscent of when I was mistaken for homeless and I responded with a quick, “Uh, no, those are my kids.” I wish I’d asked him why he’d made that assumption, but we were in the middle of hopping off a crowded bus, you know. I can only guess it was because we were traveling by bike rather than in my mom-mobile minivan. Right??
Even though family biking didn’t feel like an “in” thing today, infrastructure that supports family biking sure did. I saw the installation of a protected bike lane on Roosevelt Way. We ride a different part of Roosevelt Way quite a bit, but never down here–it’s just too dangerous. I have a friend who works in a building right here–with a view of the street from her desk–and I’ve promised her I’ll never bike down here; she sees crashes all the time.
And new cargo toting fun today, too! While I’ve carried the 16″ bike (and kid!) on the old mamabike, this was my first time carrying the 20″ kid bike (though no kid). Granted it was born of laziness–I certainly didn’t want to walk the two bikes three and a half blocks to school pickup! The bike was very steady back there and could have easily traveled any distance like this. Good to know!
OK, so here’s what I should have said to the bus driver:
“Do you think that because we’re on bikes and not in a minivan? We love biking! And we love taking our bikes on the bus. Thanks for being a Metro bus driver! I hope you’ll meet more family bikers, this is a great way to travel.” OK, maybe too saccharine. I need your help–please share in the comments what I should have said!
I would just say that “we love to ride our bikes all over! It’s huge fun!” And then let them make what they will of it. If they don’t ride now, maybe it’ll put a flea in their ear about it . . . And if not, no loss.
I sometimes get almost-offensive or puzzling comments from bus drivers too. Most recently it was when I boarded a bus without my bike and my bus driver asked if I had “given up” on riding my bike. I think it was just his weird way of saying, “Hey, I recognize you, but have never seen you without your bike!” Especially since I have been pregnant, I guess I am extra sensitive to the idea that I am too fragile to bike. Whenever I get in an awkward biking-conversation, I always just laugh and say something about how biking is really fun/ energizing/ healthy/ wonderful. I suppose that’s all you can do. You’re not going to totally change someone’s world-view or notions about biking in one short conversation as you’re boarding a busy bus. However, I do think that every time those bus drivers see you and your kiddos, it will influence their opinion towards bicycling for the better!
Thanks for the words of encouragement, Teri! I’m ready to deflect with a smile next time :)
Or was that a weird way of saying “you look too young to have two kids”?
Hey Jeff! Well, he was quite a few decades older than me, but I don’t think that was it. But, ah! I did mean to shrug off that reason in my post as an excuse to link to the Cycling fights ageing process, say researchers study I just read about on road.cc…but totally forgot. So here it is now for anyone who scrolls down :)
“Thank you, I assume that’s because I look too young to have kids.”