Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dad on Wheels: For Robbie Socks, San Francisco Is One of the Safer Cities to Ride Bikes with Kids

Image by Meli of Bikes And The City

Starting with an iBert: Robbie Socks and Son All Photos: Robbie Socks

On one of NOPA's busy bicycling blocks: Robbie Socks and sons

When did you start biking with your sons?
I started my oldest boy biking when he was about 2. Eli, my oldest, started on a Skuut. He can ride a bike without training wheels but often prefers to ride on a tandem bike with me. I've since started my younger boy biking with me in an iBert front-style bike seat at about 13 months. My boys are currently 4.5 and 16 months old. I bike with them because it's fun. Also, my oldest boy has a lot of energy, and biking is a great way to burn that energy in a positive way.

How often do you bike with your kids and where to?
I try and bike with them at least once a weekend, and i do take them on errands. I dropped off my youngest this morning to his nanny. It was about an 8 block ride; then i went to work.

What’s the best thing about biking with your kids?
The act of biking itself. Moving our legs, enjoying fresh air and exercising together.

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 that SF is one of the safer cities to ride bikes with kids. Motorists are more conscious of bicyclists here than in most places. Furthermore, the city and organizations like the Bicycle Coalition have recently made a lot of great improvement to the bike infrastructure.

What makes a route or street OK for your kids to bike?
I would say having a bike lane is very important. I try to only take my kids on streets with bike lanes. However, even streets with a bike lane can be scary, like Fell street. I don't think I would take my kids on it. There is just too much traffic on that road.

Is it even harder getting kids ready for trips if you’re traveling by bike?
No, not really. In fact it might be easier. My kids are never very excited about sitting in their seats in a car. They love to go on bike rides.

How often do you get to bike on your own?
I ride to work everyday, rain or shine, 5 days a week. It's one of the things that has keep us in the city. I couldn't imagine driving to work everyday in a car. It would be like death to me.

Any advice for other dads thinking about biking on their own or with their kids?
It's funny. A dad friend of mine who recently moved out of the city to Marin was complaining to me how his kids did not ride bikes yet. I couldn't understand his point. I mean we live two blocks from the Panhandle, a place I consider very kid and bike friendly. Fell street still scares me a little because it's like a highway in our city, but until gas reaches 10 bucks a gallon I don't think that's going to change much.


For previous
BIKE NOPA posts in the Dads on Wheels series, check here. And don't forget more dads biking at Bikes And The City.

Remembering Sunday Streets. A real San Francisco experience: walking, biking, skating in the streets, sometimes up hills and even if it was drizzling. Great to see so many dads, moms, and kids on wheels on our neighborhood streets.


  1. very cool story and pretty simple, just do it. More parents should just give it a try.
    +yea, sounds so good to say 'we live 2 blocks from the panhandle :D
    thanks for sharing rob! ride on ---- m.

  2. I notice that while the kids are wearing helmets, the Dad is not. If something were to happen to this Dad, who's gonna take care of the kids?

    Is he giving his children the message that adults don't have to be safe?

    That Dad should be wearing a helmet!

  3. unemployed: you probably know that in CA kids are required to wear helmets, adults are not. Many advise adults to do so, others are not convinced it's necessary or advisable. There are lots of discussions about this among cyclists and non-cyclists...and often not much consensus.

  4. congrats! keep up the good work/this is a great presentation.
    Dvinci Wheels