The 8-80 Cities project promotes healthy communities where people ages eight through eighty can feel safe and comfortable navigating by whatever mode they choose. My interviews thus far have explored how adults in their twenties through forties get around by bike, but I’m looking to expand the conversation. Reed Nicholls is nine years old and just finished 3rd grade at Northrop School. I sat down with him and his mom, Amy Brugh, to hear his perspective on riding a bike in Minneapolis.
Biking in Mpls: Tell me a little about how you ride your bike, do you ride with friends or with family?
Reed: Mostly with my family.
Biking in Mpls: When you’re going places or just for fun?
Reed: Sometimes we just go on bike rides because we don’t have anything to do. Sometimes because we are going to a place.
Biking in Mpls: I heard you have two bikes, a tandem and your own bike, which one do you like best?
Reed: I definitely like my own bike because the tandem, whenever we have to go up a hill and down a hill, on the last gear it always gets me off on biking. It moves the pedals. It’s just weird.
Biking in Mpls: Do you ever do any tricks on your bike?
Reed: I remember my brother and I we used to want to know how to do a wheelie. Sometimes when I’m riding I’ll try and pop up into a wheelie.
Biking in Mpls: Has that ever worked?
Biking in Mpls: What are your favorite places to ride?
Reed: I like riding down at [Minnehaha] parkway and other times I ride around on the square that the streets have made with 46th, Bloomington and Cedar, and 42nd.
Amy: Could you tell Lindsey about what your school does on bike day?
Reed: We have a bike-a-thon. A whole bunch of kids bring their bikes to school. For the smaller kids you only bike two miles, I think. But for third grade and up, that means me, we bike over eight miles.
Biking in Mpls: Where do you go on the bike ride?
Reed: We go way down by the Mississippi by Fort Snelling State Park.
Biking in Mpls: Do they do that throughout the year or just once?
Reed: Once a year.
Amy: What would you think if they did that more often?
Reed: It would be fun.
Amy: Could you tell Lindsey about what you’re doing this summer?
Reed: I have the STEM program, which is a summer school but it’s not a summer school. I’m pretty sure there’s some biking involved in that.
Amy: It’s at Pillsbury which has the bike fleet. I think they ride their bikes every day. It’s a MPS school program. You get to ride a bike with your class and you get to learn about how to maintain your bike and fix bikes.
Reed: That sounds good. That’s happened where the chain comes off. I was trying to fix it and when I finally got it back there was stuff all over my hands.
Biking in Mpls: Do you ride to school?
Amy: Why don’t you bike to school more often?
Reed: Because of Cedar. I have to wait there a whole long time because some cars just don’t mind to stop. Sometimes when I’m biking, like at stop signs or red lights, I can see people looking down at their phones.
Biking in Mpls: That drives me crazy. How do you feel about that?
Reed: I feel mad. When the light turns green for me, I still don’t go because they’re texting. Sometimes the car is on the crosswalk, because I go on the crosswalk with my bike to get across instead of in the middle of the street. When I go on the crosswalk, all the time the cars inch forwards until they’re blocking the crosswalk so I have to go around them. That means I still have to go in the middle of the street.
Biking in Mpls: What would make you feel better about biking to school?
Reed: A bike lane!
Biking in Mpls: Do you feel like biking is important?
Reed: It’s definitely better for the environment. For driving, it gives off the exhaust. For biking, there’s no exhaust except your air coming out of you.
Biking in Mpls: Are there any other reasons you think biking is important?
Reed: Well it’s important that you get your exercise.
Biking in Mpls: What’s your favorite thing about riding a bike?
Reed: It’s fun. It’s just fun to ride your bike.
Reed Nicholls is a cyclist and future 4th grader living in Minneapolis.