More and more parents are biking with their kids in San Francisco. Thanks to more protected bikeways, expanding Safe Routes to School program and more and more electric-assisted bicycles, it’s easier than ever for families to “get rolling.”
Bao-Tran Ausman is one of the parents you see pedaling with her kids. She carries her two children on the back of her Surly Big Dummy all over town, routinely picking up her daughters, 8-year-old Ava and 5-year-old Alexandra from school and taking them to events around the city.
For leading the way in family biking, we’re pleased to present Bao-Tran as San Francisco’s Bike Commuter of the Year! We recently caught up with her to talk all about the role that bicycles play in her life, and her family’s.
When and why did you start biking?
I started biking seven years ago, a year after I gave birth to my first child. I couldn’t find time to go to gym and I needed a dependable mode of transportation that could get me home from work in time to pick up my daughter from nanny share. Life changes dramatically when you have your first child. Suddenly, you recognize that your time became a scarce resource, divided between your work and your family. Biking helped me give time to myself, it allowed me the exercise I wanted and the dependable commute that I absolutely needed.
Why do you choose to commute by bike with your kids?
When my husband was working out of town, I was responsible for picking up my kids daily within an hour. I started from the financial district and headed to Potrero Hill to pick up the first kid, then rode to Baja Noe for the second kid, then home to Upper Noe/Glen Park – a little over 6 mile commute within an hour time frame. So I needed a sure and timely way to get to my kids. Biking allowed me get from work to their schools in a predicable fashion. It is the most reliable and fastest way to commute around in the City. My kids love being on the Surly “big dummy” because they can snack, talk with each; and see the world around them. I love it because I can depend on my commute and gave the exercise I needed (sometime more than I want thanks to the hills).
Favorite part about biking in San Francisco?
I have a lot of fond memories on my bicycle. My daughter lost her first baby tooth on the bicycle during our commute home. The tooth fairy came that night. Also, I loved when regular commuters would ride by us and play the harmonica for kids while they sing. We can stop by any store on our way home to pick up dinner. No parking to fuss with; easy as finding a pole or parking meter to lock the bike to.
What advice would you give to people thinking about biking with their kids in tow?
Don’t be scared; it’s easier than you think. Introduce your kids to bicycling by having them ride with you with their seats at same level as you. Start with riding in safe areas like Golden Gate Park on Sunday and Sunday Streets, and then take them on short trips to stores in the neighborhood. Once they are comfortable, ride longer distances. You might consider a tag-along so they ride in tandem with you while they can observe the road. Then, when they are able to ride on their own but before they actually ride on the road with you, begin to teach them road safety. Choose wide neighborhood streets and stop at every stop signs to look both ways, just like crossing the streets when walking.
Want to start biking with your kids like Bao-Tran? Check out our free family biking resources, including our free Family Biking Guide.