Our family had a wobbly bike-to-school start this week. (Our school began last week.) Organizing to have all three kids in school for the first time I struggled with getting organized and out the door every morning.
Much of getting out on our bike each day is getting ready with a system ahead of time that is comfortable and gets us all out the door. My shortfall this week was my timing packing three lunches and getting all the backpacks loaded into the panniers and bike to get off on our way on time. A sobbing toddler mixed it up a little too. Usually at the start of the year I get a system going of laying out the backpacks ready to go in the same place and breakfast in their hands so that they kind of eat breakfast as we roll - or stop at Lovely Bakery on the way and cheat on the breakfast thing. This year I rested on my laurels and didn't think that adding a kid that had to actually stay at school too might change anything. Oops.
Misplaced lunch bags, a third pack and and an extra pile of school supplies blew out my well worn two kid system. For me this is the weak point in my getting out of the house. Waking everyone early didn't help because I didn't have the backpack loading and flow organized. I couldn't even blame the kids. I needed to carry two panniers on the bike instead of one so that everyone didn't fight for space in the ocean of packs in the box on the way.
Organizing your own system isn't hard to do if this is your year to bike to school. Just practice a little on a nice day over the summer getting everything packed and out the door to see how it would best work for you. Packing lunches, everyone getting dressed, packed and out the door isn't hard but a little practice helps. Sometimes just choosing which door to go out of and them loading onto the bike can take more time than you would think at first. Testing it out a little when you are not under pressure really helps. Don't forget to test your route a little ahead too. (We have some quiet routes around town on our Good Routes page but it needs a little work!) If it's kind of awful the first few days don't worry. It will smooth out and the happiness of the feeling of riding together will blur out most of the days where there are, uh... hiccups.
Hopefully this weekend will give me time to get settled and ready on Monday for this week. Happily lots of other families at our school were smoothly on two wheels at the start and the playard is looking good with plenty of new and old riders.
As mentioned above getting out on a school bike train is a great way to slowly grow a bigger cycling community at your child's school. Reaching out to parents who don't ride yet but feel brave traveling in a group is a powerful fun way to share bikes as transportation with the unconverted! Fall is a terrific season to start as the weather is perfect to get shy riders out. Kids really understand that they are getting somewhere when they can ride their bikes to school. We found that our train gave the kids a new understanding that bikes are useful and they are powerful enough to get places under their own steam. (Plus our kids suddenly have a whole bunch of other friends who ride to school too.)
Just think. Once everyone on your train is (or just you are) hooked you can get everyone into dressing for the cooler weather in October!