Thursday, December 17, 2020

Kidical Holiday Lights Ride - Tips for riding with your family!


Throughout the years, some of our favorite rides have been holiday lights rides - throwing on lights and reflective gear and joining our friends to enjoy the festive lights around Arlington, while sneaking in a bike ride.  Due to the pandemic, we can only be together in spirit, but we've included some tips and tricks for you to lead your own family's holiday lights ride.  And, as a gift to this wonderful community, we've scouted out lights throughout Arlington, and suggested some family-friendly routes to enjoy them.

What to Prep

  1. Plan your route: look for quiet neighborhood streets, cross major streets at lights, avoid steep hills! Some resources to help you find good routes:

    • Kidical Mass Arlington's holiday lights route suggestions, our gift to you (see below). 
    • NextDoor has a "Holiday Cheer" map, showing crowd-sourced light displays
    • Many of these maps identify the really big displays, but riding around neighborhoods with holiday lights twinkling is magical, even if you don't see "the big 'uns".  
    • Bike Arlington's comfort map shows which routes are the more comfortable (look for the green ones) and indicates the steepest hills (stay away from those arrows!)
    • Google maps has bike directions, and will show an estimate of the hills (make sure you choose "bike directions" and look on the left, under where the route option summaries are)

  2. Check the weather - though be flexible because sometimes, even Capital Weather Gang gets it wrong

  3. Prep your lights, for your bikes - make sure they are charged and ready to go! Depending on your route, think about both lights to see the road/trail ahead of you *and* lights to be seen by drivers. REI has tips on lights.

What to Bring

  • Lights & reflective gear 

  • Clothes for weather - layers are the best (see this guide from WABA)

  • Gloves - make sure you can brake and change gears while wearing them!

  • Keep your face & neck warm - neck gaiters & balaclavas are great.  Make sure you can turn your head and see to your side, whatever you wear

  • Smart phone & power - a smart phone can give your directions if you get lost, can "phone a friend" if you need help and can even be a light in a pinch, but only if it has power!

  • Helmet & mask - because you need that brain and it's still 2020

  • REI has a list of safety tips to review

Make it festive!

Bring music, hats and other holiday bling

Make some hot chocolate! Either bring it with you and plan a stop to enjoy it (2/3rds of the way through is best) or have it warm when you get home.

Pre-ride safety

         Give yourselves extra time before you need to leave to run through some pre-ride safety:

      ABC Quick Check your bikes - before you set out make sure:

  • Air in the tires
  • Brake are working
  • Chain (and the drivechain) are working 

Talk to your group about rules of the road:

  • Stay to the right, but don’t weave around parked cars (drivers will have a hard time seeing you)
  • Kids stay to the right of adults
  • Talk to each other as you ride 
    • Turning right/left
    • Stopping
    • Car up/back
  • Stop at stop signs and red lights
  • Pull over to gawk at lights, and look before pulling out again
  • Discuss the "what ifs" -- what to do if you get separated, if you need to stop, etc.

Your friends at Kidical Mass Arlington have plotted some of locations with the most holiday cheer in Arlington and created a map with some route suggestions.  The routes generally connect to each other.  Some notes:
  1. The locations with lots of lights/inflatables are marked with red markers, but there are plenty of other lights to enjoy along the way. 
  2. There are two neighborhoods where are the streets are good for family riding, and it would be nice just to wind around -- those are marked with green & grey rectangles.
  3. The blue lines are suggested routes, but ride at your own risk.
  4. If you don't feel comfortable on a street, take the sidewalk. Just remember to ride SLOWLY, especially at driveways and intersections -- drivers don't expect people at biking speed on sidewalks.
  5. The name of each "layer" give you a little information about the route.
  6. The route in North Arlington is very hilly and involves more challenging riding -- this is not recommended for beginners.
  7. You can use these suggestions in conjunction with Bike Arlington's comfort map to create a loop that works for your family.  
*** If you are using this map for a driving tour, PLEASE remember to be kind on the streets.  Eyes on the road whenever the car is moving forward.  Find a safe place to pull over when gawking at lights. Give bikes *at least* three feet when passing. Accept that a person on a bike is riding in the position safest for them, and that you might have to wait behind them. Enjoy the extra festive time! ***

Happy Holidays from Kidical Mass Arlington!!!