A Father’s Perspective on Rocking the School Commute

Chris Huller of the CycleBoredom blog wearing a yellow plaid shirt, sunglasses and a red trucker hat, half smiling.
Chris Huller Tweet us @Cycleboredom @Cycleboredom September 27, 2017 1 Comments

Chris Huller, a.k.a. @Cycleboredom, operates a website devoted to all aspects of cycling. Currently a resident of Arlington’s Columbia Heights neighborhood, he’s been a bike commuter in the DC metro area since 1996.

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In support of Walk and Bike to School Day, Chris and his daughter are teaming up with BikeArlington and WalkArlington to spread the word about overcoming school commute challenges by biking or walking. Dive into Chris’ guest blog to learn more!

Hoffman-Boston Elementary is a mere .6 of a mile from where my daughter Sydney, a.k.a. #TheBug, and I live, and when she started kindergarten, she chose the school bus as her preferred method of transportation. As she grew, our morning schedules made it a bit difficult to regularly take the bus, so we started exploring new options.

  1. Car. One solution would be using the car, but we live on Columbia Pike and the traffic ranges from barely passable to unbearable. Also, on a personal note, I abhor driving.
  2. Walk. Another option is walking. My daughter’s mentioned she wants to walk by herself, but I’m concerned to let her cross streets alone where motorists don’t seem to notice a six-foot father on a 50-pound cargo bike. When we do walk to school, we like to take the stroll together.
  3. Bike. And by bike, I mean our Xtracycle cargo bike with seats for kids on the back.

We decided to start commuting to school by bike. Our round trip, including #TheBug taking her sweet time retrieving her hilariously overloaded backpack at drop-off, is under 15 minutes. Actual ride time is under 10 minutes almost every trip.

A collage of three photos: Chris and his daughter smiling on the cargo bike, his daughter riding ahead of him on the sidewalk, and another of her walking on the sidewalk.

The Advantages

Commuting by bike allows us to connect with our community—whether it’s with other families walking to school or familiar faces we pass at the same place, same time, every day. You can build relationships if you’re willing to recognize these patterns and take a moment to just say, “Hello!” You can also build relationships with your route. We notice changes in the neighborhood—as houses are sold or structures are torn down and the building process commences.

The Bumps

This tiny commute isn’t without its challenges though. Whether we ride or walk, we deal with impatient motorists, and crossing multiple streets and apartment complex entrances makes for an unnecessarily frenetic obstacle course. We also face parents dropping off their own kids while passing us at unbelievable speeds mere blocks from the school entrance. Sydney has ridden her own bike on several occasions, but shies away from doing it regularly due to the unrelenting intensity.

A young girl riding her bike on a calm neighborhood street, wearing a helmet and a large colorful book bag.

How We Can Help

Walk and Bike to School Day is happening Wednesday, October 4. We will again participate—she’ll ride her bike, I’ll ride mine. The next day, she’ll climb back onto the cargo bike, hopeful that our short route can be made a bit calmer in the near future.

We look forward to seeing you out there on two wheels or feet, and helping make a difference across Arlington County!

Click through to download resources on walking and biking to school

Be sure to download WalkArlington’s Walk and Bike to School resources and join us in supporting #APSWalkBike2School! We’ll be stationed at Hoffman-Boston Elementary to cheer on you and your little one’s successful trip and provide some goodies.

Remember, even if you don’t have kiddos participating in Walk and Bike to School Day, you can be a PAL and mindful of your neighbors on Wednesday, October 4 (and every day).

Photo Credit: Chris Huller

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