You’ve heard the term “Soccer Mom”? Well, Mike Morris is a “Bicycle Dad”. He’s a Seattle attorney who loves riding bikes with his daughter. “I got into family/cargo biking as a way of spending fun time with my daughter. She started out on a rear rack mounted child seat, then moved up to an Xtracycle and tandem trailer, and now we ride a tandem”.
He recently lamented that many people are shocked when they find out what a good bicycle costs, yet they don’t wince at the $20,000-$40,000 commonly spent on a new car. While many people still think of the bicycle as a toy, Mike uses it as an essential tool for transportation, kid hauling, grocery and cargo hauling, stress release, socializing, and fun. Over the years Mike and his daughter have spent a lot of quality time together. She loves going places and meeting people on the bike as much as Mike. While the expression has become trite, it’s still appropriate. That’s priceless!
What’s your favorite thing to do on your bike?
Riding along on the tandem while my daughter chatters away about school, her friends, boys, books, TV shows, and whatever crosses her mind. When we sit at home together, she hardly speaks, but there’s something about riding the bike that gets her talking.
When did the bicycle start becoming an important part of your lifestyle?
When I was 7 and I realized I could get a long way from home on my bike and have fun doing it. I’ve had periods in my life where I haven’t ridden much, but I’ve always had bikes.
How has the bicycle changed your life?
It’s given me an ongoing way of having fun and reducing stress without self-medicating! And, it slows me down and increases my appreciation for the world close to home.
Some people think there’s a bicycle renaissance going on? Do you agree?
I think its more like a middle-class family bike renaissance. I think bicycling is also getting more publicity and the public is more aware of the various bike “tribes” that have always been out there. Beyond that, I think there’ve been various fashions over the years: in the 70’s, college bike racks were full of 10-speed “English Racers”, in the ’80’s and ’90’s, Mountain Bikes, and more recently fixed gear and “townie” bikes.
Why do you think the time is now?
As far as the recent popularity of biking with kids, I think that’s happening in part as young, educated professional people become more concerned about environmental issues, and learn that they can feel good about riding bikes, and also have a great time getting in shape and spending meaningful time with their kids.
Do you tend to socialize with other bike people? If yes, are there values you think they share in common?
Yes. I think bikes are a point of connection between people with different values. People with very different world views and life experience can have mutual respect for one another based on the willingness and tenacity to get out there and ride regularly.
What misconceptions about riding a bike do you want to change amongst people who don’t get it?
I’d like to see less scapegoating of bicyclists. Its easy to blame the person on a bike when you’re angry about being slowed down in your car for a few moments, but there’s probably more going on there. I’d like to see more people examine that, think about what it is about frequent car travel that might cause frustration, road rage, and antisocial behavior, focus less energy on directing their anger and frustration at easy, vulnerable targets, and give biking a try.
Because of you, have other people become bike users?
I’ve steered a couple of people toward the local family bike group. I also have a group of co-workers. At various times we’ve all inspired each other to ride more.