September 9, 2012

"Biking with kids is all the rage in Portland these days, but biking with six kids between the ages of 2 and 11?"

"That's something I never would have thought possible before I met southeast Portland resident Emily Finch." "My kids have forgotten what it's like to even be in a car."
She's also the stay at home wife of a neurologist, so she can afford the time (and perhaps more importantly, neighborhood) to make this work.

Well, yeah. It does strike me as something, perhaps counter intuitively, that she can indulge as a result of privilege. In this day and age, just intentionally having six children may be a way of utilizing one's surplus prosperity. People without often go through great lengths to avoid such a burden.

51 comments:

Peter said...

A couple of the kids look as if they are racially mixed.

Jay Retread said...

There are many communities in Europe and other countries where people mostly rely on bikes and public transportation. You can save a ton of money by not having multiple cars. You are also probably a lot more healthy.

But I know, we hate Europe and their weird ways would never work here anyways.

TosaGuy said...

"Emily bikes for a simple and somewhat corny reason. It makes her happy."


Good enough for me!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

People without often go through great lengths to avoid such a burden.

Does killing them before they are born count as a great length?

madAsHell said...

Portlandia!!

Shouting Thomas said...

Steve Sailer calls Portland a "Whiteopia," or White Utopia.

I spent a lot of time in Portland, because my late wife was born in Salem and later lived in Portland.

Whitopia is a very apt description. Woodstock is also a Whitopia.

The defining characteristics of a Whitopia of (1) a very high percentage of the white demographic and (2) SWPL ("Stuff White People Like") amenities and tastes.

Oddly, it is imperative in a Whitopia to denounce whites who live outside the Whitopia as "racist, sexist and homophobic."

ricpic said...

This is all about winning the Mommy Wars.

Patrick said...

Two years ago, my wife and I rode on some trails near Menomoninee, WI. The trails were built on an old railway, straight through some old pioneering homestead. We put in about 35 miles before we called it a day. While driving past some Historical marker, I commented to my wife on how ridiculous our recreation would seem to pioneer farmers. What a luxury it is to be able to expend that much energy for recreation. The pioneers had to save almost all of their strength and energy for their work. A day off was almost unheard of, and for those days off, even if they'd had bikes and trails, would not entail such effort just for the fun of it.

kentuckyliz said...

Only the really wealthy and the really poor are open to having large families. It's toughest on the middle class who are neither wealthy nor subsidized.

edutcher said...

That's not Whitopia, that's your typical Limousine Liberal Gated Community.

As to Ms Finch, sorry, that's not even a little safe.

Shouting Thomas said...

Biking is great exercise for old farts.

I did 22 miles this morning.

Big Joe weight almost 280 when I met him. After he retired, he began to ride 30 to 40 miles a day, and he also counted calories.

He's lost 100 pounds.

elkh1 said...

"In this day and age, just intentionally having six children may be a way of utilizing one's surplus prosperity. People without often go through great lengths to avoid such a burden."

Doesn't sound fair to me.

The couple is taking advantage of their "surplus prosperity" to plant their perpetual carbon footprints. Their chances of having further generations to perpetuate their gene pool are much greater than those of us who have to "go through great lengths to avoid such a burden", especially those of us who care about Gaia to terminate such "burden" before said "burden" becomes a menace to Gaia.

We must be fair, we must give the selfish couple's "surplus prosperity" to more deserving couples. We must make the couple realize that they cannot foist their "burdens" on the rest of us. We must only allow one burden per woman.

Chip S. said...

I'm guessing that "surplus prosperity" in this commenter's mind is the amount that can be taxed in sufficient amounts to fund a comprehensive welfare state.

I wonder if the neurologist in question knew that when he decided not to major in victim studies and work his ass off instead.

Kevin said...

“In Portland, it’s almost like cars don’t exist! People ride bikes, or double-decker bikes, they ride unicycles, they ride the tram, they ride skateboards!”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVmq9dq6Nsg

"Ugh, cars, man, why?!" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbZn07rZJ88

"We're so lucky to live here!"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=B43nYBAGlIQ

Erika said...

I'd far prefer to use my surplus prosperity on kids than on things. My husband's not quite there with me. So we compromised on the 4 that we have, when he originally envisioned taking 2 kids on ski trips and I envisioned eating rice and beans with 6.

Now as to Mrs. Finch: this story made the rounds on Facebook and I got my ass handed to me by the biking enthusiasts when I questioned how safe that could possibly be. I don't care how "bike-friendly" Portland is; I would never put all those little heads on the road with cars whose bumpers are at exactly the same height as they are. If she's just taking them on bike-only areas (if I recall, the story was vague on that point), then whatever, but mixing cars and bikes seems ill-advised to me. Especially kids. Given that her husband is presumably familiar with catastrophic brain injuries I'm surprised he's OK with it.

Michael said...

ShoutingThomas. Just looked at my mileage: 21.91 miles. 2,000 ft elevation gain. 1987 ft elevation loss. Never canmake the equal! 13 mph avg. I am improving. Ever so slowly.

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SherryTex said...

Okay...I'm annoyed. The decision to be open to having children is not a question of economics but of will. The economics follow from that decision. I have ten children. If we did not have ten children, we would be probably considered accurately, wealthy. Because we have ten children,I say we are rich. But economics are not easy nor are they constant. The children however, are.

Carnifex said...

Those kids hit 13 she's gonna have a problem. I thought I was gonna' have to strangle my stepdaughter to get her to do anything. Obviously I exaggerate but teenagers are just useless. They should be put in pens like the zoo has and just hosed off occasionally until they reach 20.

sydney said...

That bike looks like it would take a lot of muscle power to operate. Wonder how maneuverable it is.

rhhardin said...

She doesn't do it often.

The weight of the kids makes every little upgrade twice as steep.

Since you go slower on upgrades, you start spending almost all of your trip going slowly uphill.

BarryD said...

"Where young people go to retire!"

BarryD said...

I do admire people who bike all year in Portland, though. The weather is pretty awful much of the year -- this goes double because wonderful stuff like Gore Tex is eschewed by the tragically hip (i.e. the sort of people who ride bikes everywhere).

Marshal said...

"surplus prosperity"

There's a gaffe in the Kinsley sense, accidentially saying what you really mean. Just think about the mindset necessary believe there is such a thing.

Kit said...

Not only gortex, but SmartWool, too. Even wet, ot still insulates.

Wow. I'm impressed and a little sheepish in my own whining when things get a little inclement, here.

Saint Croix said...

People without often go through great lengths to avoid such a burden.

When did liberals become so hostile to The Brady Bunch?

Saint Croix said...

And might I add that children are far more of a joy than a burden. Really I think liberal ideology is at war with human experience. And human reproduction!

MathMom said...

I'm fine with the number of kids she has, and the way she takes them around. She looks happy. I'd bet she'd beat Lance Armstrong if she ever had the luxury of biking with only herself.

But her guilt because of "peak oil" and driving a "9-person Suburban"??? Dude. I drive a 'Burb, and yo, it seats 7. And takes all their crap, even car seats, strollers, and everything needed to make the most anal-retentive mother (my daughter-in-law) feel she's got everything her 2-year-old needs. AND it gets 17-MPG, no matter how much it's loaded. That's damned efficient. AND everyone is comfortable, even on a 3000-mile road trip.

It would take three of my Honda FITs to get everything down the road with that crew, if we decided to drive a gas-sipper to save energy - two for the people, and one for the crap. And, you'd need three drivers, who would all be insane from the road noise at the end of the trip.

Methadras said...

Am I the only one here who is seeing an inherent danger that this woman is posing to her children in exposing them to possible vehicular injury or worse?

Tim said...

"People without often go through great lengths to avoid such a burden."

Some go as far as murder.

Others just ask for politicians to give them "free" birth control at someone else's expense.

Guess it depends upon the meaning of "great lengths."

heyboom said...

I've thought many things about my children over time, but being a burden was never one of them. I prefer the word "challenge".

Albeit a rewarding one.

Jane said...

Six kids? Not a big deal -- rare but not unheard-of in my traditional middle-class heavily-Catholic neighborhood. But here's what doesn't make sense? The 11, 9, and 7 year old -- and probably the 5 year old too -- should be biking, not riding. The 11 year old could probably be pulling one of the smaller ones in a trailer, leaving mom with one or two small ones and any cargo.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I admire all you bike riders, since I was one until May when I cracked up going downhill at 30mph. Broken pelvis, torn bladder, and eventual osteomyelitis of the L5 S1 vertebrae. In fact, I used to wonder as I rode whether bike riding made sense from an actuarial standpoint. An awful lot of riders get creamed by oblivious drivers and their own mistakes. Does it really extend one's life to ride a bike? Inquiring minds want to know.

kcom said...

"An awful lot of riders get creamed by oblivious drivers and their own mistakes."

Which was it in your case?

I'm writing this as I sit here eating lunch halfway through an 80 or 90 mile ride (I'll know when I get home). So far so good, although I've been on some roads today that I normally wouldn't spend time on. A little too busy and narrow for comfort. I do study accident stories on Google News to try to avoid making the same mistakes that get some people in trouble.

Simon Kenton said...

She needed the car, what with 3 kids and being at home. That meant I commuted on a bike: 6.5 miles each way, into downtown Denver. The course record was -10F. At that temperature there are parts of you that cannot be gotten warm, ie, you can't wear clothes thick enough to maintain the warmth, and still peddle. It permanently wimped me; now, below about 60F, I lose all the suption of biking and go to the gym.

Simon Kenton said...

She needed the car, what with 3 kids and being at home. That meant I commuted on a bike: 6.5 miles each way, into downtown Denver. The course record was -10F. At that temperature there are parts of you that cannot be gotten warm, ie, you can't wear clothes thick enough to maintain the warmth, and still peddle. It permanently wimped me; now, below about 60F, I lose all the suption of biking and go to the gym.

Peter said...

But here's what doesn't make sense? The 11, 9, and 7 year old -- and probably the 5 year old too -- should be biking, not riding. The 11 year old could probably be pulling one of the smaller ones in a trailer, leaving mom with one or two small ones and any cargo.

The 11 year old rides his own bike, though he doesn't pull a trailer, while the 9 year old rides a separate bike that's permanently attached to Mom's bike and helps with the pedaling.

Michael said...

Tyrone. Sorry to hear about your accident. Accidents are not much mentioned by the Portland types. Not bad ones anyway. I have a neighbor who was hit on a very lonesome road, in a place that should have been completely safe, by a drunk going seventy. At noon on a clear day. Hit. And. Run. The found his shoes in a tree. He survived but has brain injury that he might never get over. A terrible thing. I hope you mend.

MadisonMan said...

A couple of the kids look as if they are racially mixed.

This is noteworthy in your world?

I was biking to get ginger yesterday at the store, and passed an accident -- bike under a car fender -- the car had apparently turned in front of the bike. Always a sobering sight for this biker.

Clatskanie said...

I live in Portland. Have done so on and off since 1955.

Bicyclists are bullies who can do anything that they choose with impunity. Now I'm a car, now I'm a bike, now I'm a pedestrian walking a bike - as a bicyclist I am generally whatever fits my whimsey of the moment.

Any dispute between a driver a cyclist will result in angry and sometimes violent bike mobs surrounding the driver in anger.

Get in a traffic dispute with one and he'll have more pro bono legal help than a Rosenberg.

Mostly, bikers don't care about car drivers because they don't have to.

The entire infrastructure of the city is geared around bikes and light rail. Buses, cheaper, more efficient, and accessible are considered an evil. Except by those who have to trudge long distances to the light rail stop because the bus no longer comes anywhere near their home.

The children in charge of this city just dropped over 45 million dollars for a new bridge plan that will connect I-5 across the Columbia to Vancouver. The planning kids ignored Coast Guard requirements and marine business needs.

The bridge plan is too low to use.

Portland supports its green infrastructure by diverting water and sewer revenue, creating new taxes, and reclassifying what were once tax paid for city services as new "fees."

Plus, we have a huge appetite for borrowing money off green projects. Then we borrow more money to pay on the interest of the earlier loans because we'll never afford to pay on the principle.We do not have the money to maintain the bike/rail infrastructure. No major road paving projects in the last 5 years.

The city is in cohoots w/ugly developers allowing them to build high density condo blocks that do not require parking structures. then, they sell parking spots to home owners for an annual fee.

Read Jack Bogs blog for two weeks. He's a left but he'
s also a tax lawyer/college professor. Guy follows the money.

I'm desperate to get out.

Peter said...

A couple of the kids look as if they are racially mixed.

This is noteworthy in your world?

It's noteworthy because they don't all look to be of the same racial background.

ken in sc said...

My dad said that he would not take a million dollars for one of his kids—he had three—but he would not give a nickle for another one.

chrisnavin.com said...

All residents of greater Cascadia (Seattle and Portland metros with high-enough density Prius ratios) are obligated to adopt at least (1) non-white baby from a third-world country if said residents have managed to have (3) white children of their own in a period of (10) years. This has been determined by the general counsel.

***Otherwise, said residents must adopt at least (2) shelter dogs and take them to the communal dog park thrice weekly.

***Otherwise, at least (3) vacations over the course of a (10) year period must involve working with aid organizations in foreign countries, or working for not-for-profits organizations in Cascadia to help the communal welfare, to cure homelessness, to save the environment.

All hail Cascadia!

Hail!

The general will has spoken.

*******All Starbucks within said metro areas must play at least (4) hours of Bob Marley, or any steady-rock equivalent thereof, or any socially acceptable putumayo/world music variant thereof, daily.

Hail!

wyo sis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wyo sis said...

I have five kids and I never thought of it as a way to soak up surplus prosperity. In fact, there has never been any surplus prosperity.
But, there has been a lot of learning and growing and fun and enjoyment and it's occupied 40 years of our lives with at least one child still at home under 18.
Never had a bicycle built for 7 nor an SUV.
I never felt burdened or thought about my carbon footprint. I never felt I was over populating the world or using up more than my share of available resources.
Instead, I thought the world would be a better place because there are five more hard working, educated, people not on welfare producing more than they consume and giving back more that they take out. Plus we're all good looking.

MadisonMan said...

Peter, just keep on digging.

MadisonMan said...

And please do explain how it's relevant to the story.

Jessica said...

This goes to the point you've made previously, Ann, that single-earner households are greener than two-earner households!

furious_a said...

Between the tightening CAFE standards and the stringent child-restraint rules, it almost seems like a backdoor means on depressing family sizes. Three children or more requires an SUV or a shudder minivan...or two mid-sized sedans.

Try getting five people (two of them children in full car seats) into a typical midsize sedan. That's assuming the back seats have anchor points so that one doesn't have to use a lap belt just to anchor the child seat.

Unknown said...

Love how the lady bikes her brood around, but anyone over the age of 2 can ride on their own set of wheels.

My boys both started riding Skuuts at about 18 months and now I have to dash to keep up with them. They love it, I love the energy burn.

That was some serious snark on metafilter. Portlandia residents do *not* like children.

Jennifer said...

There are many communities in Europe and other countries where people mostly rely on bikes and public transportation. You can save a ton of money by not having multiple cars. You are also probably a lot more healthy.

I don't know why I find it so fascinating and funny, but watching the stream of bicyclists coming from the train station to work at the Mercedes (car, obviously) manufacturing plant makes my day every morning. Completely normal sight, here.

Six kids, on the other hand, would be a radically uncommon sight here in Europe.