Kidical Mass Arlington: Getting Families On Bikes

Local parents launch effort to show just how easy it is to get around by bike — even with small children.

Last week marked the first official ride of Kidical Mass Arlington, a new collective of parents dedicated to helping get families on bikes.

With a series of planned rides throughout the summer, Kidical Mass will demonstrate the many ways families of all shapes and sizes can get around on two wheels.

Kidical Mass Arlington takes its inspiration from an existing Kidical Mass group in Washington, which has been building up over the past few years. The name “Kidical Mass” is a play on “Critical Mass,” a long-established informal bike ride that takes place in cities across the country every month. Kidical Mass is decidedly more focused, with rides designed primarily for families and young children.

While Kidical Mass Arlington is very much a cooperative effort, Cherrydale resident Gillian Burgess has been the primary force behind the launch.

A mother of two young children, Burgess wants to show others not that it's just possible to bike with children — from babies to school kids — but that it can be fun and easy.

While Burgess has been interested in family biking for a while, she was particularly inspired when her family hosted an 11-year-old nephew from London for a week. "We biked all over Arlington and DC," she said, "with our toddler in a front bike seat, and our nephew on his own bike. He especially loved biking between the White House and Capitol on the Pennsylvania Avenue cycletrack."

Burgess hopes her efforts will help turn even mundane tasks — like grocery runs — into family fun on bikes.

The Kidical Mass rides are slow paced to ensure no one gets dropped or lost. They take place on calm neighborhood streets and along Arlington’s trails. The ride leaders will make sure no one gets left behind.

In addition to facilitating slow and easy rides around Arlington, Kidical Mass organizers try to highlight the full range of cycling equipment designed with families in mind.

Many of us are already familiar with the seats mounted over the rear wheel or the towed trailer. However, trail-a-bikes, long tails, and box bikes are less common in Arlington. Kidical Mass organizers hope that by giving others a chance to try out the full range of equipment available, it will inspire more families to get on the bike.

Right now, the next planned rides are:

  • June 16 — Father's Day Ride
  • July 21 — Cool Off Ride
  • Sept. 22 — Harvest ride 
  • October whatever-it-is-this-year — Kidical Mass Arlington joins the family ride at the Arlington Fun Ride

More rides will be added to the calendar, so make sure you visit their website at KidicalMassARL.blogspot.com.


Some attendees at the Rosslyn pit stop for Bike to Work Day were asked to provide feedback on a study of bike facilities in the Rosslyn neighborhood. (You can see their comments and leave your own here: http://maps.kittelson.com/BikeRosslyn) There are some interesting ideas in there, for sure. However, Arlington’s first, second, and third priority in Rosslyn needs to be addressing the situation at the Lee Highway-Lynn Street crossing of the Custis.

The biggest bike party in the Washington area takes place this Saturday, June 1, and is within easy riding distance of Arlington. Come check out Tour de Fat at Yards Park, starting at 10 a.m. and running until 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Mark Blacknell is a member of the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee, president of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and a League Cycling Instructor.

Eric Wagner June 11, 2013 at 01:06 PM
This is a great idea! Nice import of the DC idea to an active cycling community who can make it work as well. For many kids this is going to be their first foray onto actual streets or maybe a return after a little accident that scared them off for a while. In a big group with peers, this promises to be a great ride for the smalles riding in their trailers to the big kids on their 24" bikes!


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