Biking with the Brinkleys: How to go Carless/Make Everyone Say “Huh”

The Brinkley Family is BBP's 2017 Car 4 Bike Trader. They've been car free for just over two weeks, and they're sharing every step (pedal stroke?) of their journey with us. Check out their first blog post!

 

We have gone carless.

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You read that right; our family, the one with 3 children, one of whom has yet to support her own weight, donated our only car (minivan) to the BBP in exchange for a Surly Crosscheck and the resources to transport our whole family via bike for 365 days.

So…let the adventure begin.

Actually, the idea of going carless was an idea that Taylor and I had been mulling over and discussing the logistics of for about a year before this opportunity through the BBP wound up in Taylor’s e-mail. We talked about bikes being our main transportation mainly as a way to get ourselves healthier but the more we discussed all of the possibilities, think box-bikes and Weehoos and Yubas (oh my!), our seemingly hair-brained idea started to seem like the best way to make the world our oyster. I mean, what better way to teach our children resourcefulness, independence, and respect for the earth and pride in our community than to encourage them to explore all the places we can get to on a bicycle?? Then our idealism really kicked in “It’ll be such an excellent way to grow up”, “I mean, it’s something they’ll always talk about to their friends”, “We’ll just be the people who bike” and so on. But guys, there’s kind of a lot to it when you’re just starting out. Here’s the list we made of all the places we have to go, errands we run and things we like to do:

  • School
  • Work
  • Grocery store
  • Gymnastics
  • Grandma & Grandpa’s
  • Doctor’s office
  • Movie theater
  • Restaurants
  • Pool
  • Beach
  • Playground

Here’s the list of questions and concerns that we had:

  • How soon can we get Maddie road worthy?
  • If it takes too long, how will we get her to and from school?
  • How will we transport an infant?
  • How will we get groceries? Household supplies? In the winter?
  • How will we do all of that while hauling a toddler AND an infant?

Okay, that list got long so I’ll spare you the exhaustive list, but that gives you a decent idea of some of the details we had to iron out before we really started to feel confident that this is something we could pull off. The conversation was on and off for months until about a month ago when the Car 4 Bike Trader contest was e-mailed to Taylor, who had become a member of the BBP approximately 1 week prior (talk about Kismet).

When he told me about the e-mail, he was fully expecting a blow-off, he did not get it. I said we should go for it. We wrote our statement (an inspirational tale of two pleasantly plump parents who want to change their family’s life for the better) and showed up to the NeuroLux to hopefully woo the crowd more than any other contestants would.

We were the only ones who showed, you guys. We won by default (yet another instance of Kismet), and that’s why you have to show up for stuff, you guys, you might win by default. Anywhoo…

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Cue the mad-scramble to get the 9-year-old riding on 2 wheels, procuring me a bike and a way to haul the 2-year-old and the 3-month-old, making sure we all have appropriate footwear, protective gear, mirrors, lights, racks, panniers, air pumps, allen wrenches…yet another long list that I will not include in its entirety. But we did, we got everything we needed, said good riddance to our minivan (and its insurance payment and its gasoline expense and its list of needed repairs).

Taylor got his Crosscheck and (quite anti-climatically) it wasn’t a great fit for him. Off the bat, he made some modifications with assistance from Charles at the BBP and got it suiting his needs much better. I ended up with a Bianchi Torino, which I love and scored a Chariot Cougar 2 second hand for cheap to haul my littles. I had done some extensive research into options to take the baby along (something not very commonly done in North America, so a lot of the research was from locations abroad [read: Europe]) and felt most comfortable using the infant sling made specifically for Chariot strollers/trailers, and again, found one for a massive bargain online from someone who turned out to be one of my neighbors (have I mentioned Kismet yet?) Within the 2.5 weeks (1 spent at her mom’s house without practicing) between winning the contest and our official send-off into bike commuting at Tour de Fat, Maddie put the pedal to the metal…pavement? and got herself riding like a pro. She has taken to it like a fish to water and rides every chance she gets (and first thing in the morning).

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If it hasn’t been made quite clear enough, the stars aligned in making this change. We are just getting started but are already smitten with being a full-time, rain or shine, day or night biking family.

The Brinkley's plan is to do a weekly update to share their journey with you all, document the process, track their miles and hopefully inspire any or all of you to make the changes that can make your life all you could want it to be.


Stay Tuned!

BBP will be sharing many of their updates on the FreeSpirit Blog, but to be sure you don't miss a post, check out their blog site (with more pictures!).

bikingbrinkleys.wordpress.com.