by Sean Carter
Many individuals and families have begun to question the convention of driving their car for every single trip in the city due to tightening budgets, growing ecological awareness, worsening traffic, and a desire to lead a more healthy lifestyle. Getting rid of the family car or reducing the number of cars your family owns can seem daunting in our winter city. Kids need to get to school, groceries need to be picked up, and life needs to continue. Luckily for you, there is another way to get these things done – it’s called a “cargo bike” and your family needs one. Seriously.
Here are some of the great things about cargo bikes – no need for insurance, no parking tickets, door-to-door parking when you go shopping or run errands, no visits to the gas station ever again, better fitness, your children will love it, you can model behaviour for them on how to get around a city without a car – (studies show lazy parents = lazy kids), you’ll never get stuck in traffic, and on and on and on and on…
Cargo bikes come in 2 main styles – “Long tails” and “Box bikes”. Long tail designs are basically what they sound like: a longer wheelbase bike that carries the majority of the weight behind the rider in a custom cargo area. Box bikes are also longer then standard bikes but carry the weight in front of the rider in a big box or on a deck. As a general rule, long tails tend to be more affordable then box bikes but box bikes tend to carry heavier loads better then long tails. Of course, both styles are heavier then regular bikes but tend to ride nicely even without a load.
Long tails are designed to carry a rider – and another 200+lbs! That’s you and your lover! Or you and your kids with 2 weeks worth or groceries. Or you, and all your tools if you are a trades-person. These bike are well suited to daily use as well with wide gear ranges for climbing hills and great braking systems for bombing down the other side.
The obvious difference with box bikes is that the load is carried in front of the rider instead of behind, and usually the load is situated quite low on the bike giving the bike a unique and fun riding characteristic. The steering is handled by a linkage running from the rider underneath the box to a small front wheel. This steering arrangement is one of the things that make these bikes so fun to ride – the ride is hard to describe but I would try by saying they are fun and comfortable. One thing I really like about these style of bikes for carrying kids is that they sit directly in front of you making conversations very easy and keeping an eye on them is a snap too. These bikes also have wide range gearing and great brakes.
Bike Bike carries many varieties of cargo bike. If you’re interested, pop into their Bankview shop and they’ll set you up with a test ride to figure out if a cargo bike is right for you.
Sean Carter runs Bike Bike, our neighbourhood bike shop, and is a proud Bankview resident.