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Murrs Across America

Two bikes, two toddlers, one epic family adventure: This is the story of the Murrs' 4400 mile, four month bike trip from Florida to Oregon, from potty training to pow-wows, from home to home again.

Kate is a winner of Top 25 Biking Families

What do you like about the biking lifestyle?

Biking helps me feel more present with my family and the place where I am. Something about moving at the speed of biking, or about the physical activity, or about the attention I give to the world around me seems to keep me really engaged. Plus, we all think biking is fun way to travel!

I like the health benefits, the awareness, and the opportunities for adventure a biking lifestyle creates. As a fringe benefit, when we bike together, other people notice. Sometimes this inspires other families to dust off their bikes. Once when we were biking in Mississippi, a mom noticed our Burley trailer and for the first time saw a solution that might help her teenage son get fit. The boy had a heart condition and his doctor had recommended biking, but she wasn't able to let him go by himself and she had to find a sitter for her toddler if she wanted to go with him. Because she saw our family biking, she discovered a way to tote the tot and help her son get the exercise he needed.

How often does your family bike versus drive?

The great part about biking is that it doesn't have to be in opposition to driving. Some days I may choose to drive to get groceries AND go on a bike ride around the neighborhood with the family after dinner. That said, we usually bike or walk to Jane's school, because it's just a few blocks away, and Stuart bikes to work--about 6 miles from the house--about 50% of the time. I'm going to begin teaching and earning my master's degree in the fall and I intend to bike to school about half time too.

Gear makes it easier to bike more. For example, Burley trailers and tag-alongs help tote the kids and pannier bags and racks help tote the stuff. One thing I really like about biking as a means of transportation is that when you're constantly hauling around "essential items" for your day, you realize that you actually need much, much less than we typically haul around in our cars. The same observation holds when you're bike touring: we actually need way less stuff than we have in our homes.

What’s a good safety tip for biking with children?

When biking with children, everyone should wear a helmet. Also, visibility is key: Tall orange flags on the back of trailers, tag-alongs, or even short bikes increase visibility, as do reflectors and lights. On our cross country trip, Stuart and I both wore reflective orange vests every day. Once a man stopped his truck beside us on the road just to thank us for being so visible. He said he had been wondering what the heck we were for miles before he caught up to us.

Choosing trails or road routes that have high-visibility and low-traffic also factor into safety considerations. Our routes were mapped and vetted by Adventure Cycling Association, so we were on bike friendly routes where motorists were aware of the potential for bicyclists.

Great biking infrastructure--like extra lanes or signage--makes cities, trails, and roadways great, and make biking safer for everyone. I think we can do more as communities to promote biking and pedestrian solutions for increased safety.