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'Kidical Mass' bike movement gains momentum

Sunday - 7/20/2014, 8:53pm  ET

Kidical Mass (Courtesy Twitter)
About 70 people, some of them barely out of diapers, took part in Sunday's family bike ride in Virginia. (Courtesy Twitter/Brandon Jones @btj)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The "Kidical Mass" bicycle movement is spreading.

The groups of moms and dads who put their kids in bike trailers, baby bike seats and on their own scaled-down versions of adult bicycles has expanded to include parents from Rockville, Maryland to Alexandria, Virginia.

The most recent group ride was a ‘meet up' of Kidical Mass Arlington and Kidical Mass Alexandria. About 70 people, some of them barely out of diapers, took part in Sunday's family bike ride.

The name "Kidical Mass" is a play on the Critical Mass bike rides, but as organizers are quick to point out, the parent-organized bike rides are recreational, not political.

They're designed to get people out for some family fun, while showing people that bikes can be transportation tools as well as recreational vehicles.

A recent column by Washington Post writer Courtland Milloy fueled a furious backlash by cyclists concerned about safety.

Riders were angered by Milloy's statement that some drivers might find it worth a $500 dollar fine to take out their frustration on cyclists by hitting them.

Milloy also labeled cyclists "bullies" and "terrorists."

So how do parents, working to encourage their kids to ride bikes, deal with safety issues?

Parent Peter Watkins, part of Sunday's "Kidical Mass Arlandria" ride, said safety isn't really a problem. He doesn't see the kind of ‘war on cars' attitudes described in Milloy's column.

"Because what I've seen in Alexandria is a lot more respect" on everyone's part, Watkins says.

At a post-ride lunch with kids Sunday, Watkins said "the cars here seem to be a lot more respectful" than what Milloy described in his column.

"Certainly, the cyclists aren't doing any of the crazy things he [Milloy] was describing," like spitting on drivers, banging on hoods or laughing at motorists while impeding traffic.

Natasha Andersen agrees with Watkins; the riding climate in Alexandria and Arlington is pretty positive.

"We've never had any problems riding bikes," Andersen says. "My daughter used to ride her bike to school every day" without any hitches.

Andersen says drivers seem to be "extra cautious" when driving near kids or families. And she suspects drivers like the fact that kids are out getting some exercise.

"You know, you hear so much about kids sitting around, attached to screens all day," Andersen continues. "Seeing kids out and moving around is good for everyone."

WTOP's Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

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