Biking Heroes: The Medero Family

This week, we’re featuring the entire Medero family: Julie (whom you often see riding around school on their blue Madsen bike with the covered cargo tub on the back), her husband Shawn, and their children Martin and James.

Biking Heroes: The Medero Family

Is it true your family doesn’t even own a car? How did that happen?
It is! We moved to Seattle in 2008, when our older son, Martin, was a toddler. At the time, we were trying to sell our house on the east coast, renting an apartment in Seattle, and I was heading back to school. We decided it didn’t make sense to buy a new car until we sold our house–there just wasn’t room in our budget. It ended up taking 3 1/2 years to sell our old house, and by that time, we were hooked on how much fun it was to get around on our bikes. Instead of getting a car like we’d originally planned, we upgraded to nicer bikes and kept going!

What are some things that other families could accomplish surprisingly easily without using their cars?
It’s amazing how many trips people make that are under 3 miles! Just using your bike for some of those trips–to the grocery store, the library, soccer games, friends’ houses for playdates, etc.–is a great way to get started. Some of Martin’s first solo rides were to places that were right off the Burke Gilman Trail: PCC and Fred Meyer at first, then Magnuson Park, Matthews Beach, and Golden Gardens as he expanded his range.

Martin is riding his own bike now, and I’m sure his younger siblings will as well. Like any parent, I’m sure you want your children to be safe. What are you teaching them?
Being safe on the road is incredibly important to us. Having the kids on our bikes means that we started talking about the rules of the road (traffic signals, staying on the right, taking turns at intersections, etc.) when they were small. Now that Martin is riding on his own, our focus is on helping him be more predictable in traffic. We talk about what people in cars will expect him to do in different situations, riding in a straight line, looking left-right-left before crossing streets (even if the traffic going the other way has a stop sign!), and being ready to go at stoplights when it’s our turn. And we point out places that we should make sure no cars are coming even if we have the right away, since sometimes drivers make mistakes too!

Seattle is hilly! Don’t you have to be in really good shape to ride such a heavy bike around here?
There are lots of options for getting started on a bike without being super-strong! Our kids keep growing, and their activities keep getting more spread out across the city. Last fall I added an electric assist kit to my bike. I’ve got a motor in the back wheel that basically multiplies my pedaling power. It feels like riding a bike, but with stronger legs. It’s made it easier for us to take friends to after-school activities or carry all the gear necessary for Fall soccer practices, which helps us feel like we’re part of our community. That makes us feel less guilty when the occasional birthday party has a particularly long or hilly bicycle route and we want to catch a ride with a friend.

Do you and Madi ever race your cargo bikes?
Ha! We are much more likely to compete over who can carry the biggest, heaviest, or most absurd load on our bikes! Or maybe we’re just afraid that we would lose if we took her on…

And now, a couple of questions for Martin…

Hey Martin, do you ever not want to ride your bike?
No, I always want to ride my bike! [Editorial note from Julie: Though when it’s very cold and rainy, or when we’re out at a friend’s house too late, Martin is sometimes pretty happy to be able to catch a ride in our Madsen, with its rain cover!]

What’s the coolest place you’ve ever ridden your bike to?
The coolest place we’ve biked as a family is to Bainbridge Island to go bike camping. We wrote about it here.

The coolest place I’ve biked to on my own bike is Bike Expo at the cruise ship terminal. We were going there to talk to other families about biking (at the Family Bike Seattle booth). My mom was carrying a cargo bike, two balance bikes, and my little brother on her bike, so I got to ride my own bike the whole way!

How many miles have you ridden in one day?
I’ve gone 24 miles on the trail-a-bike, and 17 miles on my own bike. But I want to go even further this summer, because now I have gears!

Biking Hero: Martin