08/17/10

Interview: Becoming a Multi-modal MomInterview: Becoming a Multi-modal Mom

TLC's Hilary Reeves sat down with Emily Seru, a working mom in St. Paul's Frogtown neighborhood who has just started commuting by bicycle to daycare with her son, August, and then on to her own work.

Hilary: When did you start "getting around" with August on your bike? How old was he?

Emily: I took August on his first bike ride when he was fourteen months old.

Hilary: Did you scout around a lot for the right equipment? What options did you see and what did you end up choosing?

Emily: I looked at a lot of kid bike seats and liked the idea of having him sit in front of me between my arms. That way, I could keep an eye on him while we rode, interact and talk with him, and he could have a view of something other than my butt! I ordered the WeeRide online, which is a seat that secures to the frame of the bike, positioned just behind the handlebars. This was a great introduction for him to the bike; he loved it and immediately yelled "wheeeee!" as we went down the street the first time. But it was only good for short trips (1-3 miles) as my legs had to pedal out to the side a bit to fit around the seat. He also outgrew the thing in a few months. I traded the WeeRide for a Burley Bee with a neighbor down the street and am loving being able to actually commute with him to school and work with all his school stuff and my work bag in tow for longer trips. I also found that when I called the helmet a "hat" and showed him how I put on mine, he took to it right away. Now when he sees his "hat" he runs over to put it on and wants to get in the Burley to go for a ride.

Hilary: What kinds of trips have you been able to make with August on the bike?

Emily: The WeeRide was great because when I did not have the car on the weekends and wanted to get out of the house with him, I could ride to the Como Zoo which is out of walking distance, but the perfect short bike ride. With the Burley I find he is less interactive and seems to go to sleep a lot, so it is a different experience. On Monday as I was biking with him back from day care up the huge Saint Clair Street hill from West 7th to Victoria I had a guy yell "go baby go!" It is empowering to know I can really take him anywhere, no matter the distance or topography, without a car. Before, I would feel limited or would have to drive just because I needed to take him to day care in the mornings. It is also hard as a working mom to find the time to get exercise, and this has reintroduced the possibility of a regular bike ride to the day to day routine.

Hilary: I know you care about the food you and your family eats. Are you looking at transportation in any of the same terms? What motivates you to figure out your choices?

Emily: I anticipate Americans will not have the luxury of driving cars as the sole means of getting around in the very near future. I enjoy biking and the closeness I feel to my surroundings and neighborhood when I bike vs. drive. Biking makes me feel more self sufficient, more healthy; it makes me slow down and live in the moment even in the midst of the busiest days. Plus biking is free!

Hilary: What tips or recommendations would you make to a new mom or dad hoping to go multi-modal in their child-rearing?

Emily: Commit to owning only one car and resist the pressures to think that a kid necessitates getting a second car. It really does not. Think about living close to where you work when you have the opportunity, and seek day care options close enough to bike to. Find others to swap kid bike gear with as they outgrow things before things wear out.