I Went Walking, by Sue Williams, illustrated by Julie Vivas

I Went Walking is a rhythmic read that shows children the fun of discovery on a farmyard walk.

I Went Walking Cover

I suspect that nearly everyone who reads this book will compare it to Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? but a children’s librarian friend points out that I Went Walking offers the thrill of a guessing game by giving hints of what’s to come.

I Went Walking Cat

Good for you if you guessed that the next animal we’ll find on our walk is a black cat! On the walk we also meet a brown horse, red cow, pink pig and other animals you might find on a farm. The line “I went walking. What did you see?” repeats throughout the story. Eventually, all the farm animals follow our little red-headed friend and there is some mischief that occurs on the last page.

Reading this book will help little ones learn about animals, colours and sequence. You can also insert animal sounds when you read it aloud. After reading this book often, you might even find yourself (as I do) saying, “We are walking. What do you see?” when you go on walks with your child.

We really like the size of the board book version of this title as N can handle it well and turn the pages easily.

Baby- and Child-friendly Vancouver

I highly recommend two posts that recently appeared on Spacing: Jillian Glover’s 13 ways to create baby-friendly cities and Chris Bruntlett’s 12 ways to make cities more child-friendly.

The baby-friendly cities post reflects my own experience of navigating and living in Vancouver with a young baby.

Shannon and N

The only point I would add to Jillian’s list is the need for more washroom facilities, particularly at public transit stations, and more changing facilities in men’s washrooms. Kevin gets out of quite a few diaper changes because his washrooms often aren’t equipped with change tables or large countertops (or, that’s what he tells me). The lack of washroom facilities at major public transit stations and stops is a growing concern for me as I look ahead to toilet training. How do families with young children out of diapers go on longer journeys on public transit?

Jillian’s post suggests a map of services for new parents, and a commenter on the post points out that there is one for Vancouver: the Kid-Friendly Map. I just signed up to contribute to this map, and I hope other parents of young children will consider doing the same. Even though we have very little spare time in our lives, we’re the ones who know our neighbourhoods well and all the useful amenities (like clean and free changing facilities) and fun places they include.

Kid-Friendly Map

I wonder if a toddler-friendly cities article is up next in the Spacing series as there are some unique concerns between the baby and older child stages. Now that I’m a parent of a one-year-old, I’m always searching for wide open outdoor areas where N can safely crawl and practice walking.

N Crawling on Grass

The community centre play gyms (like Mount Pleasant’s) are terrific indoor spaces for this, but some of our outdoor spaces are lacking for older babies and young toddlers. I suspect that there is a growing need for appropriate outdoor toddling spaces given Frances Bula’s recent article about Vancouver families who are choosing to live in small spaces with children. I hope to discover some of the best outdoor spaces in Vancouver, as recommended by other parents, on the Kid-Friendly Map.

Happy Car Free Day!

Sunday, June 15 is Car Free Day in Vancouver. Celebrate the festival’s 10th anniversary with your family, friends and neighbours.Car Free Day Vancouver 2014 posterVisit carfreevancouver.org for information about the Commercial Drive, Main Street and West End festivals and the Kitsilano block parties.

A Plea for Secure Bicycle Parking

We recently said goodbye to Kevin’s bicycle. It was stolen from our building’s “secure” parking garage. We really miss the red bicycle. With it, we travelled all around the city and also visited places like Point Roberts, Galiano Island and Salt Spring Island.


Photo credit: Matt Reimer

I’m fortunate to still have my bicycle because it was being repaired at a local bike shop at the time of the theft. Someone tried to steal my rear wheel a few days earlier while my bicycle was parked at work. I’ve never been so grateful for an act of vandalism.

Everyone knows bicycle theft is a big problem in Vancouver. Now that we’ve been hit by it, we’re puzzled by the messages around bike theft. HUB has this educational video about correct bicycle parking to prevent theft, but it focuses on parking your bike at a destination:

We haven’t found many resources on bicycle theft that examine the problem of theft while your bicycle is parked at home. We couldn’t even file a stolen bicycle police report because theft from a secure parking garage is considered a break and enter and not just a stolen bicycle. The number of stolen bicycles in this city must be much higher than the official statistics report.

Here is our situation, which I suspect will sound familiar to many of you:

We rent a condo unit where the bicycle storage room is small and full. When we moved into the building, we were informed that the only option for bicycle parking outside of our unit would be to rig up something in our unit’s two (!) motor vehicle parking spots in the parking garage. Off we went to Home Depot to buy the heaviest chain we could find. We tied this to the concrete pillar between our two parking spots and locked our bicycles with U-Locks to the chain. This worked well for a couple of years, but then someone came along with tools to cut the chain and removed Kevin’s bicycle. My bicycle now lives in our front hallway where it competes for space with a stroller; we have no room for a second bicycle. The strata that manages our complex doesn’t allow bicycles in elevators so I have to be sneaky when I transport my bicycle between our unit and the ground level. Proper bicycle racks and storage systems are not allowed in most parking stalls in the building’s underground parking. There are no immediate plans to expand the bicycle storage room and we learned from the strata that bicycles have even been stolen from that space.

So where can Vancouverites, particularly renters, safely lock their bicycles at or near their homes overnight?

TransLink provides some bike lockers and secure bike parking, but all of these facilities are intended for daytime use. TransLink lockers can be used overnight, but they are very limited and the cost of $10 a month adds up to quite a bit for a long-term rental. In addition to a bike share, perhaps Vancouver needs to look at developing hubs for secure around-the-clock bicycle parking throughout the city.

The Cycling in Cities project found the risk of bike theft to be a deterrent of cycling, so this need for secure all-hours bicycle parking seems pressing if the City wants to increase the cycling mode share.

Do you have any ideas to share? We’re listening.

Along a Long Road, by Frank Viva

Frank Viva’s Along a Long Road is a stylish children’s book about a long and (mostly) fast bicycle ride.

Along a Long Road cover

The cyclist travels along a sleek embossed yellow road that goes up and down, around a small town and through a city. He travels on a bridge, through a tunnel, around many corners, past shops and the library, and receives friendly waves as he goes along the long road. There’s one small road bump, but nothing deters the cyclist from his free and bold ride.

Along a Long Road

Frank Viva, an illustrator, designer, Toronto bicycle commuter and cover artist for The New Yorker, created Along a Long Road as a single, continuous 35-foot-long artwork, which has been shown in galleries. The use of only five colours for the illustrations is striking, and ensures that the cyclist and yellow road pop out on every page.

Along a Long Road was selected as one of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2011, a School Library Journal Best Book of 2011, and a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Illustration.