We first met Melissa on her blog Velo Family Diaries. We loved what we read and just had to get in touch. Melissa has such great insight of cycling in the city and we think you are going love what she has to say.
1. What is Velo Family Diaries?
Velo Family Diaries is a blog where I write about my family’s adventures living life without a car and on two wheels. It began midway through 2012, just as the summer vacation was starting, and originally it was meant to be a journal sharing my summer adventures with my two children, showing how easy it can be to travel throughout our city on bikes. Since then, it has grown into so much more, and now contains advice about how to shift personal and public opinions about bike infrastructure, policies, as well as discussing the most important message about riding a bike. That it’s a human activity that almost everyone can do, and it’s important to foster positive growth in cycling numbers. I’ve also had the privilege of writing a few guest posts for other blogs focused on sustainable transport, as well as writing for the family section of Momentum Magazine about our bike lifestyle.
2. What inspired you to live a life in Vancouver without car ownership and begin a lifestyle by bike?
In 2010, my husband took a job in Gastown after spending three years commuting by car out to the valley for work. Within weeks of starting his job, we found that our family car was spending more and more time sitting unused in our parking garage, as we had both taken to commuting to work by bike, and live just a block away from one of the biggest transit hubs in Vancouver. After calculating the cost of continual maintenance, fuel and insurance on a car we were barely using, and researching the cost of joining a car-share program, selling our car seemed like the best financial decision for our young family. Using some of the money from the sale of our car, we purchased a trail-a-bike for our three year old daughter and got an extra hitch for our bike trailer used by our one year old son, and so began our car-free adventures.
Getting around on bicycles with children is not difficult, especially in a city like Vancouver, with bikeways and separated lanes becoming ever more prevalent, but it does require a bit of forethought. Whenever we head out on our bikes as a family, we certainly try to stick to the routes that involve the least amount of interaction with motor vehicles. We’ve taught our children the rules of the road, all the hand signals and general responsibility when sharing the road with cars, but in the end, the best trips are always those when we don’t have to think about any vehicles we’ll cross paths with along the way. Our children also continually surprise us with their endurance, many times easily traveling more than twenty kilometres in one trip. That being said, we do tend to keep in mind what activities they will be doing at our destination, determining if they will be too tired to make the trip home by bike and if transit would be a better option.
4.Tell us about your involvement with Vancouver Cycle Chic?
Along with the Velo Family Diaries blog, I have volunteered with various local cycling groups. As a ride leader for Velopalooza, I’ve organized kids rides, taking families on kid-friendly rides through Vancouver, and also teaching the little ones a bit about maintaining their bicycles with proper tire pressure and keeping a clean bike chain. For the last two years, I have also run “Bike Buddies”, a mini bike maintenance workshop, for the Earth Day programming at my childrens’ school. I am also a big supporter of Vancouver Cycle Chic, for which my husband is a Director. I share their message through Velo Family Diaries and on social media, the main message being, cycling can be done by anyone at any age, and requires no special equipment to do it.
A great video by Vancouver Cycle Chic: Cecily // "Heart and Soul" // Vancouver Cycle Chic Films from VANCOUVER CYCLE CHIC on Vimeo.
5. How would you describe your cycle style?
My cycle style is quite simply whatever I have in my closet. Because I don’t think riding a bike requires cycle specific clothing, I will ride in the same clothes I would walk or take transit in. I do work in fashion sales, which means if I’m on a sales call or working at our showroom at the FX Building in Vancouver, I need to dress both fashionably and professionally. I also love wearing dresses, so more often than not, I can be seen riding at a casual pace on my upright bike in dresses of varying lengths blowing in the wind.
6. Where is your favourite place to ride your bicycle?
My absolute favourite place to ride is along the seawall. I grew up in a landlocked city in Southern Ontario, and since moving to Vancouver in 2007, I have come to love being near the ocean, especially on a warm summer day. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere where I wouldn’t be able to enjoy long rides along the water, as there is no better feeling that riding with the sun shining on your face and breathing in the ocean breeze as it blows through your hair.
7. What’s your secret for cycling in rainy weather and keeping your personal cycle style?
My dirty little secret for riding in the rain is that I tend not to. I love riding my bike, but I also like being dry, so if it’s a choice between a soggy ride in heavy rain or a relaxing trip on transit, I will opt for transit. That being said, if it’s looking like the rain won’t last all day and it’s light enough, I’ll throw on my gum boots and my hooded anorak and set off for a slow, patient trip on two wheels.
8. Do you have any cycling tips for women who want to start cycling but haven't made it on to two wheels yet?
My advice for other women considering riding a bike is to just do it! Don’t be intimidated by heavily equipped cyclists out there, who seem like they’re training for the Tour de France instead of commuting to work. Just like when we were kids, riding a bike is as simple an activity as you make it. Take is slow if you like, be confident, and know that all you need to have is a bike you love riding, although a chain guard and fenders are very handy to keep your clothing dirt and grease free. I love hearing stories from other women I know, especially moms, who were inspired by my stories to start riding again, and realized how easy it really is. Women are the true indicator of how successful a product, idea or movement will be. As we start seeing an increase of ladies on bikes, we will also start seeing increased infrastructure and acceptance of this very civilized mode of transport.
9. Can you tell our readers about your sweet ride? And does she have a story?
Just recently I acquired a brand new bicycle through my friends at Momentum Magazine; a shiny red Papillionaire Sommer. The style of my bike is nothing new to me, as I’ve been riding an upright bike for two years now. I love sitting upright while I ride, because I get to see everything around me while I’m pedalling along. Whether it’s a bird flying by, children playing at a playground, or the beauty of the ocean, sitting up let’s me freely look around and take in my environment. I have yet to create any stories with my bike, but am excited for the adventure I will have with it and my family!
Thanks for the great chat Melissa! It was a pleasure getting to know you a bit better. We love your cycling tips for beginner riders and we think they are spot on.
Melissa Bruntlett lives in Vancouver, BC. When not riding around with her family and enjoying life by the ocean, she writes for her blog velofamilydiaries.blogspot.ca | @VeloFamilyYVR | https://www.facebook.com/VeloFamilyDiaries?ref=hl
We would love to hear what your tips and tricks are to get other women out on their bikes.
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