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Thanks To A Bike, Kids Have Their 'Pasyal,' And Mom Gets Errands Done At The Same TimeIt has brightened up their days and made them happier.by Kitty Elicay .
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Ten months of community quarantine have been hard for families in the metro, especially those who have limited access to gardens and parks. Mom Corinna Pettyjohn, 38, says the lockdown was tough for her two daughters, Ada, 3, and Thea, 1 year and 8 months.
“We live in a one-bedroom apartment in Makati with no gardens or amenities, so being able to walk to the park used to be our lifeline. And then suddenly, there were no more park days!” the mom tells SmartParenting.com.ph via email. “I remember early in the quarantine, my older daughter looked out at the little playground set in the next building and just burst into tears.”
Since Corinna and her husband, Raymond Maribojoc, are also working from home, their days have become more hectic, leaving little room for alone time. They also needed to find a solution to accomplishing errands during the pandemic.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
“We chose a long time ago to live car-free, so we live as close as we can to work and the things we need. We are able to walk to most things, and then take buses or a Grab car farther away,” Corinna explains.
But because of the quarantine, transport was shut down and they needed a way to transport things, like groceries. That’s when Corinna and her husband decided to get a folding bike. “It was perfect! Except for one thing — I couldn’t use it to carry my kids,” she muses.
Becoming a biker mom
Corinna biked a lot as a kid and she saw it as an opportunity to be able to take the kids out for some fresh air while accomplishing her errands.
“I sometimes have to take the kids out when I pick up food, for example. My husband works a mid-shift (up to midnight) so on weekend mornings, I take the kids out so he can sleep,” she explains.CONTINUE READING BELOWRecommended Videos
Before deciding to take her kids out on a ride, Corinna armed herself with research. Apart from looking up bikes and seats that could carry kids, Corinna also watched bike safety videos from Japan, since biking with kids is super common there. She eventually bought a “mamachari,” which is Japanese for “mom’s bike.”
Her bike is a Bridgestone Angelino, a Japanese bike specifically designed to carry two kids. “I found out they were available in Japanese surplus stores, and I stalked a few groups online to find one. I got one that came with the front carrier, and then I bought the rear one secondhand from a friend,” Corinna shares.
She had to upgrade the bike — replace the worn-out tires and brake cables — to make sure it was safe to ride around the Metro. “The entire thing cost us less than Php10,000, much less than a ‘nice’ road bike,” the mom says.
The next step was to get used to riding with weight. “I practiced with groceries and big bottles of water in the seats, and it’s good that I did because I actually did lose balance on my first big grocery run, underestimating the acceleration and turning radius of the much heavier mamachari!
“When I did put the kids in the seats it turned out to be much easier to balance with them than with groceries, and by then I was very comfortable with a fully loaded bike,” Corinna shares.
Biking with kidsADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Corinna shares that her daughters were both excited at the thought of going on bike rides with their mom. She had to get them used to wearing helmets and she made it clear that they would not be biking without helmets on.
Since the guidelines from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases allow kids to exercise outside, Corinna can take her kids for quick errands around their neighborhood. It has brightened up their days and made them happier.
“The fresh air and sun and change of scenery really improved the kids’ moods,” Corinna shares, adding that she also got her much needed “alone time” — even if the kids were tagging along.
“It gives me that quiet time I missed, that I used to have walking to work or shopping by myself,” she says.
Of course, there were challenges at the start — like her youngest throwing tantrums while riding the bike. “My younger daughter has been known to throw her shoes overboard when she’s tired and cranky, or try to escape her seatbelt, but it’s not a problem to just slow down or stop until we’re ready to get going again,” Corinna shares.
She’s also gotten remarks from people saying “Kawawa naman sila,” and wondering why she’s out and about on a bike with her children.
“I thank them for their concern and remind them that every person on a bike is someone's mother, father, or child and that we need to treat them as human beings rather than obstacles on the road. If you drive, the best way to keep us safe on the road is to drive carefully, follow the speed limits and look out for more vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians,” Corinna says.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
“As for kawawa we just laugh — the kids have so much more fun on a bike than in a car! They get to spend time with their mom, see things up close and interact with their environment in a way that couldn't happen in a car. We can stop to pick a flower and say hello to a dog and notice changes in the neighborhood.
“Oh, and did you know you're probably exposed to less pollution on a bike than in a car (in a high traffic area)? Seriously, there are studies on this!” the mom adds.
A hope to make the metro more bike-friendly for kids
While more and more bike lanes are popping up in the cities, biking still comes with its own set of difficulties. Corinna says a lot of establishments don’t have bike parking or they put it in the lowest basement level or an inconvenient space at the back of their shop. Racks are also designed for more traditional bikes.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
She says, “I don’t think many business owners realize that bikers are paying customers too! If you’ve seen some of my grocery hauls, I can carry a lot more than you’d think on a bike — in one go, I’ve carried 10kg of rice, 5kg of detergent, a few liters of juice, fruits and vegetables, a couple of chickens and a bunch of snacks… But it’s not easy to pedal that much weight up a parking ramp!”
Still, she chooses to bike because it gives her a “huge feeling of accomplishment,” apart from the fact that it’s a great way to exercise.
She says, “You feel like you get places and get things done by your own effort. And for moms, especially now, when the to-do list never gets shorter, and the demands are relentless, that’s a big deal. You come home with that rush of endorphins and think ‘Wow, I just pedaled myself and two kids for 20km’ and that can make your day!”
Lastly, it’s a way of showing others the kind of future she wants for her kids and their peers. “Imagine a city with half the cars we have now. Or even no cars at all. Imagine all the space that would free up!
“Our kids could safely play outside, we’d breathe easier, we’d have more space to eat outdoors, and more parks and trees. It would even be a few degrees cooler. And that’s the future I want for my city, for our kids.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
“Every trip we don’t make by car, every person who decides to start biking, every public space we reclaim for people to use, that brings us closer to the kind of city our children deserve to inherit,” Corinna says.
Follow Corinna and her kids at @2wheels3hearts on Instagram. Click here for more activities you can do with your kids.
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