Sunday, August 5, 2018

Vancouver Spray Park Challenge

Our cargo bikes parked at Connaught Spray Park in Kits
Earlier this summer I was poking around the Vancouver Parks Board website & came up with the idea to make a list of all the spray parks in the city & try to visit every single one this summer. I made a checklist (of course--I love checklists!) which you can grab from the Vancouver Family Biking Facebook group in the Files section, if you want it.

We haven't made a huge amount of progress, despite the summer being half over. Here are the spray parks we've been to so far.

Connaught Park

Geese having a drink & pooping at the edge of the Connaught Spray Park
This one is a bit off the beaten path for us, but we trekked over to Kits to see it after going to the Let's Go Biking Book Launch event along the Arbutus Greenway. It is right along the 10th Avenue Bikeway, so it's quite nice to ride to.

It is a cute little spray park with painted concrete surface, several different sprayer things, no water guns & SO MANY GEESE. The geese mostly stayed away from the kids, moving back & forth from the field to the edge of the spray park while we were there. Until the water sprayers turned off after the kids took a break for a while. While the kids were playing in the adjacent playground, the geese invade the middle of the splash pad & POOPED all over it. Bleagh.

Linny runs through the water spouts in Harbour Green Spray Park

Harbour Green Park

This is a park we often bike through on our way to & from Stanley Park, but we rarely stop at. The spray park is very minimalist, no rainbow coloured pipes or giant ladybug things to climb on, but more like a fountain. Nonetheless, the kids looooved running around between the spouts of water. There are plenty of shaded benches on either side & the mist from the water blows over toward them intermittently, which is fantastic on a hot day. The park also has public washrooms on the south side of the spray park & it's easily accessible by bike as it's right along the seawall.

Relaxing in the shade as the kids play in the "stream" at Prince Edward Park
Prince Edward Park

This is our default spray park, only a few blocks from home. It features a small splash pad with a variety of sprayers & water guns, a bioswale artificial "stream", public washrooms, plus a large shady area right next to the spray park that has a couple of picnic tables. There is a good playground with lots of swings, as well as a small community garden & a playing field--definitely a place you could spend the day with kids.

I'll post again once we've visited a few more spray parks in the next couple of weeks. Have you been to any of Vancouver's spray parks? Which one is your favourite?

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Where to Buy a Cargo Bike in Vancouver

Cargo bike party outside Tandem Bike Cafe!
If you're looking to buy a cargo bike in Vancouver, the options are getting bettter & better. But, there's no one stop shop to test ride different brands. Quite a few brands of cargo bike, like our Bakfiets, aren't even sold here in brick & mortar stores--your only option is buying online.

Until we get a great family & cargo biking shop (like Seattle's G&O Cyclery) here in Vancouver, you'll have to pound the pavement a bit.

In the interests of making that easier for you, I've updated my list of bike shops that sell cargo bikes here in Vancouver. There are a few disappearances from my previous list--Grin Technologies has stopped carrying complete cargo bikes & is focussing on adding electric assist, or regular e-bikes. Dandy Lion Cargo has also stopped selling Bullitts, & Phil from Metrofiets has stopped building his gorgeous long johns.

Cit-E-Cycles 3466 West Broadway Vancouver 604-734-2717
Riese & Mueller Load; Tern GSD; Benno Boost
Their Surrey location has Pedego cargo bikes on the floor to test ride as well. Read about the daily school dropoff run on an electric Pedego Stretch by Lee-Anne Ekland on Mom Pardigm.

Dream Cycle 1010 Commercial Drive Vancouver 604-253-3737
Surly Big Dummy; Bilenky custom longjohn
Dream focuses on custom bikes, but they do sell Surly longtails--they usually don't have a floor model, so give them a call if you're hoping for a test ride.

Mac Talla Cycles 2626 East Hastings Vancouver 604-707-0822
Mac Talla has no floor models available for test rides, you can order Babboe through them.

Mighty Riders 10 East Broadway Vancouver 604-879-8705
Surly Big Dummy; Xtracycle Edgerunner
Ed generally has both bikes in stock for test rides, but call ahead to make sure they're ready for a test ride.

Rad Power Bikes 3296 E 29th Avenue Vancouver 1-800-939-0310
Rad Power ebikes
Note that you can test ride bikes at this location, but they are currently not offering ebike purchases from the Vancouver retail store. All ebike purchases must be made online.

Reckless Bike Stores 110 Davie Street Vancouver 604-648-2600
Babboe City; Urban Arrow
Reckless has two locations, but the Davie Street location has Babboe & Urban Arrow on the floor.

Sidesaddle Bikes 2496 Victoria Drive Vancouver 604-428-2453
Bike Friday Haul A Day 
Andrea opened Sidesaddle specifically as a women-friendly shop. They have at least one Haul A Day available for test rides. I posted about the shop not long after they opened.

Tandem 3195 Heather Street Vancouver 604-376-8223
CETMA; Douze Cargo; Yuba various models; Bullitt; Triobike; Bike Friday; custom longtails
Tandem carries the widest variety of brands of cargobike... but the small shop doesn't have room for floor models. Clint's personal CETMA is  available for test rides most days--call ahead to be sure it's at the shop. Here's a short review I wrote after borrowing Clint's CETMA for an afternoon.

Pro tip: this is where we go for service on all our bikes--the mechanics here really know & love cargo bikes.

The Bike Doctor  137 West Broadway Vancouver  604-873-2453
Babboe; Yubas of all sorts electric assist & regular; Felt Totem & Bruhaul
Bike Doctor has a floor model of most of their cargo bikes available to test ride, except Babboe, which need to be ordered in. We bought our Yuba Mundo there in 2014--you can read much more on that on my cargo bike FAQ page.

That about wraps up my updates to the list. Please let me know if you know of other cargo bike selling shops in the city that I've missed!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way to list these bike shops & have no affiliation with them, other than being friends with Clint from Tandem. The above information is correct as of the writing of this post & opinions above are my own, as always.

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Monday, July 9, 2018

Learn to Drive with Modo

I've written many times about how we've made carsharing work with babies & young children. Modo makes it possible for us to save thousands a year by not owning a car. But what about when they want to learn to drive, eventually? Will we need to buy a car then? Or pay thousands to get every minute of practice in a driving school vehicle?

I've got good news for carless families with teenagers who want to get their drivers license: Modo is launching a new category of membership, Modo Green, allowing new drivers to use their carshare fleet!

Teens 16+ with a Learner (“L”) licence haven’t been able to take advantage of the benefits of carsharing, because previously, drivers needed to be 19+ with an “N” licence; as old as 21 with some other carshare providers. In fact, Modo is actually the first carsharing organization in North America to offer this to members.

Why? Modo believes the benefits of having younger people develop their driving habits & behaviour early is good for everyone. Modo's wide range of vehicle types mean new drivers can get practice manoeuvring different sized vehicles. It can also save parents a lot of money, which is important, since we live in one of the most expensive regions in Canada. Now you don't need to own a car or spend hundreds or thousands on driving school to teach your kids to drive. It also saves on insurance costs, as you don't need to pay higher rates to add a new driver.

Modo Green has some conditions, of course. Learner drivers can only be added to a Primary Member’s account & they don't get their own fob, since they have to drive another member anyway. For all the details, visit the Modo Green page here.

Happy carsharing!

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Get Ready for Summer Biking Season!

If you like biking with your family & you'd like to do even more of it this year, consider joining a HUB Cycling Family Streetwise course this summer! 

This fun, interactive course is for families with children ages 8 & up. You'll learn road safety skills & build confidence to ride on the road together as a family. This course is taught by HUB Cycling's certified cycling instructors (like me!), & includes theory, on-bike skills practice plus a neighbourhood road ride. Courses are aimed at children & family members that already know how to ride a bike (balance, pedal, steer), & are looking to take their skills to the next level & ride confidently on the road.

The Fine Print: All children must be accompanied by a participating adult, with a maximum of 3 children per adult. All participating family members must be registered in the course. All participants must bring their own working bike & helmet.

If that isn't enough to convince you, I should also mention that Translink is subsidizing these courses, so the cost is only $10 per participant! 

Vancouver Family Streetwise courses: 
If you live in another municipality, we also have upcoming programs in New Westminster, North Vancouver, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, & Surrey. Check the HUB Cycling Family Streetwise page for more information & to register.

Disclaimer: I work for HUB Cycling as an instructor of some of these programs, but I was not compensated for writing this post & don't receive any commission if you register. I just want to see more families on bikes!

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Friday, June 8, 2018

Review: CozyPhones Kids Character Headband Headphones

Recently we had the chance to try out one of the cutest sets of headphones out there: CozyPhones.

These kid-specific headphones are a soft, fleece headband that has a pocket inside which holds flat speakers over the ears. CozyPhones Kids Character Headband Headphones come in all sorts of different animal styles, including unicorn, bunny, fox, panda, frog, monster, & cat. There's also a set of Paw Patrol characters if you have any small fans of that show in your home.

I actually came across CozyPhones about a year ago when I was looking for something I could wear to bed to help me sleep without having anything inserted in my ears. This is basically the origin story of the CozyPhones company: Paul, a veteran, had trouble sleeping & getting back to sleep at night, so he was looking for something to wear in bed to listen to podcasts or music. After finding a lot of expensive & fragile options out there, he decided to design his own & CozyPhones was born. Along the way, he added a children's line, with characters designed by his daughter. CozyPhones have also become a useful alternative to earbuds & headphones for children with cochlear implants, or for kids with sensory sensitivities.

The Kids Character Headband Headphones work the same way as the adult ones, with speakers inside a band that lays flat around the ears, so they're comfortable to sleep in, even for side sleepers.

I like the fact that they're mostly soft for durability. B is very hard on electronics & has broken other styles of kids headphones in various places. The flexible fabric band of CozyPhones is something she can't break, thankfully!

The headband comes in one size, which fits my biggish-noggined kids (age 4.5 & 7.5). The braided cord is about 90cm long, coming out the back of the band & the stereo plug is the usual 3.5mm.

If your child sleeps with headphones, or you travel a lot, these headphones are pretty fantastic. The main downside is that they could potentially be too warm for kids who 'run hot' or warmer climates. The headphone part inside the headband is also not fixed--you can easily adjust the position of them, but you can also pull them right out of the band at the opening in the back.

CozyPhones Kids Character Headband Headphones currently retail for $18-22 (US) online.

For more information on the kids headphones, or the adult version, visit the CozyPhones website, & check them out on Instagram.

Disclaimer: I received a set of unicorn CozyPhones Kids Character Headband Headphones to facilitate this review, but was not otherwise compensated for this post. Opinions are my own!

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Sunday, May 27, 2018

5 Ways to Participate in Bike to Work & School Week!!

It's that time again, when everyone has dusted off their trusty steeds--or just got them tuned up since they've been riding them all year anyway--& gets on the bike path. The seawall is elbow-to-elbow riders & all the bikeways are boppin!

Bike to Work & School Week starts tomorrow, May 28th & runs til Sunday, June 3rd.

Here are five ways you can participate:

  1. Ride your bike to work & school! Talk to your coworkers, classmates, neighbours, friends & plan to ride together one or more of the days. 
  2. Register with HUB's Bike to Work Week website & track your commutes (anywhere you bike--running errands or social calls count too!) on their site. The data they gather on biking in this city is useful for those of us who advocate to make biking better. Entering commutes each day also adds your name to draws for a free bike every day of BTWW! 
  3. Stop by a few of the BTWW Celebration Stations on your morning or afternoon commute. There are more than 80 of them around Metro Vancouver this year! Every station is a bit different, but most offer coffee, snacks, free minor bike repair, as well as contests to win prizes. Find them on the BTWW map by day here.
  4. Become a member of HUB Cycling! Your membership dollars support HUB's efforts to make biking better for people of all ages & abilities around Metro Vancouver; help HUB run education programs for children & adults in schools & the community; & keep HUB organizing awesome special events like BTWW, Bike to Shop Days, Bike the Night, & more. Also: members get discounts at all kinds of places! You can join on the website here, or in person & get a thank you gift (while supplies last) during BTWW!
  5. Join all your fellow bike commuters for a free hot dog barbeque at Creekside Park on Friday, June 1st. There will also be snacks, drinks, & prizes from many local (& some not so local) businesses.
Hope to see you on the bikeways! Or at least on social media--don't forget to post a few bike selfies during the week & hashtag 'em #Bike2Work!

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