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Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Jenni Woods of Orem pedals her children Ian, front, and Abbi home from the dentist's office. Jenni and her husband, Brad Woods, ride their bicycles most places.

OREM — Anyone who's lugged an exuberant child on a road trip knows the lyrics all too well: "The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round, 'round and 'round, 'round and 'round."

Four-year-old Abbi Woods, however, sings the song a little differently.

"Riding the bikes to Grandmother's house, Grandmother's house," sings Abbi. "We're riding the bikes to Grandmother's house, all through the town."

As far as Abbi knows, the only thing a person needs to get around town is a bicycle. The Woods pedal their way through all their errands including trips to the grocery store, the post office and the library. Most of the time, Abbi and her 2-year-old brother, Ian, have front-row seats on a European cargo bike their parents purchased online. The big bike, which is called a bakfiets, is outfitted with a bench seat big enough to seat three children and rear cargo pockets that can hold up to four gallons of milk.

"I call it my minivan," said Jenni Woods, Abbi's mother.

The bakfiets is the family's primary vehicle. Since they bought the cargo bike in September, their 2001 Volkswagen Jetta has only seen road time when the Woods headed out of town.

The Woods get a lot of attention when they coast through Orem on the 8-foot-long bicycle.

"People definitely stare," Jenni Woods said. "I'm always getting stopped by people who are curious about the bike."

Being a biking family has its advantages, though.

Jenni Woods enjoys the slower-paced lifestyle because she can spend time with her children, get her errands done and fight that pesky "mother spread" all at the same time. Plus, she said, not being shut up in a car makes it easier to be neighborly.

"It's better for our health," she said. "It's better for the environment. I say, why not kill a bunch of birds with the same stone?"

The fluctuating economy, however, was the biggest reason the family chose to trade their car keys for a pair of pedals. Now, the Woods don't worry as fuel prices climb. They only use an average of one-half gallon of gas each month.

"We don't bike because we are tree huggers," said Brad Woods, Jenni's husband, who has been cycling to work for six years. "It has more to do with enabling my family to prepare for the future. The economy is changing and we want to be as self-reliant as we can."

Cycling takes a little extra effort: The Woods have to plan their routes in advance and, if the weather is bad, they have to wear raincoats. But, for the most part, Brad Woods said making the switch from cars to bikes was fairly easy.

"It takes me about two minutes longer to get to work when I ride my bike," he said. "Really, if you think about it, it would probably take me more time to park my car, lock it and walk to the door than it would to just get on my bike and ride."

The things that make life difficult for the biking family have more to do with Orem's transportation infrastructure than cycling. Brad Woods, who is a member of Orem's Transportation Advisory Commission, said he would like to see the city build more bike trails, narrow roads and decrease speed limits.

"Everything is so rush, rush, rush," he said. "I believe quality of life is eroding because of the increased speed of life and traffic. People are packing too much into their days."


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