Craig Persiko with daughter, Serafina, biking in the Castro
Craig, his husband, and their two kids stop at Sunday Streets in the Mission
Photo: Craig Persiko
Toby ready to cross the bridge on Sausalito ride Photo: Craig Persiko
BIKE NOPA and Bikes And The City: every Tuesday, more Dads on Wheels.
I met Craig Persiko in the Castro during an SF Bicycle Coalition streetside outreach event in June. For some reason, on that afternoon most of the bicyclists that passed by were parents with their kids. It was great to see him and his daughter having such a good time riding together. Say hello to Craig and his family.
How long has your family been biking?
My husband and I have two kids: Serafina, age 7, and Toby, age 5. They rode on my bike as passengers from age 18 months, and both have been biking on their own two wheels since October.
How does biking fit in with your family routine?
We don’t have a car, so we bike to Golden Gate Park and such for fun, and we also bike together to go to school many days, to BART, events around town, etc. Our son, Toby, just finished pre-school at a place just 6 blocks away, a pretty flat ride from our home. He loves biking, so he and I biked to school almost every day since he learned how to bike in October. Serafina’s school is close too, but the route is much more hilly, so she only bikes on the weekend usually – probably once a week or two on average.
How did you get your kids started riding?
Our kids learned to ride tricycles at their pre-school – that’s how they learned to pedal. Then we bought them scooters (2 wheel Razor-style) when they were 5 and 3 years old – that’s how they learned to balance and ride carefully in the city. After lots of practice with their scooters, they had almost no time with training wheels -- on hand-me-down bikes from our neighbors -- before they were ready to ride bicycles without training wheels. We taught them both over the course of a weekend when they were 6 and 4 years old.
What’s the best thing about biking with your kids?
I love getting around by bike, so I really enjoy sharing this experience with my kids and seeing them enjoy it too. Toby picked up biking really quickly, and loves it, so he and I have especially enjoyed this together. Just a week after he first learned to ride without training wheels, he and I went for a ride from our home in the Castro to Golden Gate Park, and he wanted to keep going, so we went all the way to Ocean Beach and back! Then a few weeks later, we went for another open-ended ride, and made it all the way to Sausalito, and took a ferry home! Mind you, I wasn’t pushing him much on these rides. I just told him we could ride that far if he was up to it, and he kept on going!
What do you say to relatives or friends who think the streets of San Francisco are too risky for kids to bike?
I tell them about how, when we’re riding, I ride close behind my kids, constantly talking them through what we’re doing, saying things like, “keep right, watch out for that car with its reverse lights on,” etc. When the streets are quiet or safe enough, we ride on them, but we more often ride on the sidewalk. When we’re on the street, I ride behind and to the left of them, to keep a close eye and try to keep the cars a safe distance from them. We also take the lane more often with the kids than we would without them.
What makes a route or street OK for taking your kids biking on it?
A really well-divided bike lane, like the new ones on Market St. with the yellow pylons separating it from the car lanes. Or a really quiet street where the cars are not going too fast, and don’t come too often. Otherwise, I prefer to ride on the sidewalk. However, my husband and daughter prefer to ride on the street more than I do, because they find it more stressful to navigate a crowded sidewalk, and prefer to just take the lane in many cases.
For previous posts in the Dads on Wheels series, check here.
Dads and kids: spin through the North Panhandle and the Western Addition during the next Sunday Streets on September 19th, 10am to 3pm.