This is the fourth installment of interviews with car-lite families in Huntington, WV. We met the Clark family through our blog initially, then they attended our inaugural Kidical Mass and have been to just about every cycling event I have hosted. It’s a great pleasure of mine to feature their story here. To read the first three interviews in this series, please see: Klover/Kittingers, Hobson/Greens and Tim, Hannah, Peter, and Claire.
The Clarks: Huntington, WV
There are five in our family. Brian, myself (Tonya) and three children. Brit, who is 18 and two children ages 10 & 11. Brit has the only car in our household.
We began biking after vacation in July 2011. We always loved riding with our kids, love exercise, and our concern with the environmental impact of driving prompted us to try to bike, if possible, everywhere.
We live in Arlington Park which is an inconvenient location for biking anywhere, (hills and Rt. 60).
We work from home and the kid’s school has a bus stop close so it makes it easier. We bike for errands but large grocery store trips we use Brit’s car since we do not have a cargo bike and we shop at the Kroger on Rt. 60 or Healthy Life Market by mall. We work long hours at home so mostly people visit us and the kid’s friends are in the neighborhood. We also take classes online at Marshall University
The cold weather does effect me more than Brian and our son. They don’t mind it but I really avoid it if I can.
Our family thought we were silly and were skeptical of our choice but I think they are used to us being a bit crazy. Having one car saves us hundreds of dollars on insurance, gas and car payments each month. It keeps us in shape and I feel like we are doing our part to reduce waste.
I have felt scared a few times as a woman at night, biking alone. I feel more vulnerable on a bike than behind the locks and steel safety of a car.
We have to be more prepared than driving too. I got a flat this fall and didn’t bring anything to fix it and was stuck walking my bike back home. You just learn to give yourself time and bring supplies. Gear also is more costly than I realized. But it is worth it. I have no regrets.
Huntington does need bike lanes and racks. If more people felt safe biking they would. We wanted to bike long before we started but the streets can be intimidating. My advice to anyone wanting to start would be to plan. Begin checking out the route you would take and don’t underestimate hills, in a car they don’t seem too bad, but even a slight incline on a bike may be hard when you first begin. Also, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Do it for fun when it’s convenient. Don’t force your family to try. Just invite them and let them see how much you enjoy it.
We rode to the mall with our 11yr old son over the summer to get supplies from Healthy Life Market and eat lunch. We decided to eat at Olive Garden. We rode up to a crowd because there was a wait. We chained our bikes to a post. There were kids who were all excited to see us riding there. They asked their parents why they can’t ride too. Their parents said we probably live close. When we told them where we came from (about 8 miles away down a 5 lane 45-55mph state route) they kinda ran out of reasons. Kids seem to want to ride and are willing to try but adults often discourage them or give excuses why they can’t. I hope by people seeing more of us riding they will realize it’s possible.
Thank you Tonya for sharing your family’s experience with everyone. It has been great to hear about your challenges and perseverance to overcome them. Seeing Brian out on his spiffy new road bike is also inspiring! Thank you for being a part of this community.