Here's my new partner. Yes. My bike.
(The one next to mine is my daughter's.)
Thousands, no, tens or hundreds of thousands of mothers who have small children in Japan does her daily running-around on bikes like this, on busy streets like.... (I tried to find a good pic on the net to show how our neighborhood street looks like, but failed. I think this movie comes close enough. First 20 second or so is inside the Kyoto Univ. campus, but after that the camera comes out on the streets.)
When we came back to Japan, my daughter was already 4 years old, weighed about 15 kg (33 lb). Before Japanese kids grow up to that size, they are usually well adapted to be carried around on mom's bikes. My daughter was not. And I was not fully confident about the safety, me myself have not ever be carried on my mother's bicycle, neither. And my neighborhood has everything within 15 minutes' walk. Grocery stores, post office, banks, doctor's office, kindergarten, play parks, subway & railway station, bus stops, you name it.
So, I happily postponed purchasing my bicycle "until the time comes."
My daughter appealed to me again and again how faster and happier she can go to the kindergarten if only I buy a bike with big carrier on the back and carry her. Like her friends' mothers do.
I just kept saying no. I wasn't sure I can safely give a big girl like her a ride. All these walking to and back from the kindergarten makes our legs stronger, and we can have a lot of fun along the way, like poking the ice on a very cold winter day, like doing word games (almost always shiritori).
Now, the time has come.
My daughter wished for a bicycle last Christmas, and the wish came true. Her bike had those small supportive wheels, and her riding speed didn't go too far faster than my walking/light jogging. This summer, she suddenly decided to get rid of the support (I am very sure it's related to witnessing her friend's riding technique.) and had achieved it. Now she rides faster, farther and oftener. I needed some technological support to keep on safely chasing her around.
I went to a good bicycle shop (on foot, of course) and talked with the bike-loving guy there for almost half an hour. We agreed that;
1) I don't need a child-carrier. (I waited for two full years just to avoid that.)
2) I don't need an electric bike. (It's just too heavy to put up on the upper rack at the apartment bike space.)
3) I ride inside Kyoto city area, which has busy streets and lots of narrow streets crossing each other, that I need a bike that stops and starts easily, hence, smaller wheels.
4) I like it "sporty". (More than a quarter on my "follow" list on twitter are pro bike racers.)
5) I have a good supportive bike store (which I was in at the moment) very close by.
His recommendation, and my choice, is Pulmino made by Gios. (HP doesn't have it listed on their "bikes" page. Maybe it's only for exports to Asia.) My first Italian vehicle in my life.
I needed a front carrier basket, but they didn't have a matching blue one. I would have plain metal one but then, my artist daughter said firmly, "NO, mom, this green one is much, much cuter."
We tried it on my light blue bike, and surprisingly, the color went along so pretty.
Thank goodness, for her artistic sense.
And, she named my bike, too. It's a boy, and his name is Gino.
I'm so happy she has good linguistic sense, too.