Can I just start by saying cycling is a smart investment. It benefits the environment, the economy and all road users. Add to this the health benefits of exercise and the mental health benefits of being more engaged and aware of your surroundings. So how can you do a bit more each day? What things can you change to improve your current transport options? How could you use a bike as your primary form of transport?
Cargo, electric, good old regular town bike…whats the ideal? What will work for YOU? Are you going car ‘lite’ or want to dive into being car ‘free’. Will this be short term while the kids are young, just for town commuting or a long term lifestyle change? What kind of loads can you imagine wanting to carry? These are all BIG questions that may be easier to answer with a bit more understanding of what different kinds of bikes can achieve.
Why Cargo? Well as the name would suggest these bikes are all about carrying loads. So they are perfect for the person who needs space on their bike for groceries, kids, work gear etc. While cargo bikes are not speedy or great over long distances they are perfect for around town, urban style, preferably flat riding. There will be a cargo bike solution out there for you – read more at Using a Cargo Bike to Transport Your Family, each class of cargo bike is discussed in this story. Also be aware that most cargo bikes will have an electric version making them an e-cargo bike. Electric bikes are perfect as a car replacement, to use to travel over distances that you may not feel comfortable doing on a normal bike or when you have to deal with hills.
Cargo bike with front cargo basket
Why Electric? An electric assist battery can be added to an existing regular bike or built into an e-bike. This gives you the ability to make biking easier as the energy required to complete a pedal stroke is not solely coming from you. When you add weight to a bike, which will be a common occurrence if you are trying to reduce the use of your car, electric assist can be really helpful. Yes it will be more of an investment but your enjoyment of the ride and the range of uses for the bike will increase dramatically. You will be able to ride further and carry greater weight while still enjoying the experience of being on a bike.
Town bike with electric battery on rear carrier & front basket
Why a Regular Bike? Perhaps you need to or just want to use a normal regular kind of bike for your transport. This can be done quite easily but you will have to have good carrying ability if you are going to make this work. As much as possible add options to the frame of your bike to get loads off your back. Consider panniers over the rear or front wheel and a handlebar basket is ideal on the front. When your load is going to be bigger could or would you use a bike trailer? Also remember there are many regular style bikes that come with electric pedal assistance or you can have this fitted at a later date.
Adding panniers is an easy way to give yourself storage
Long tail cargo bikes are ideal for rear kids bike seats
A bike trailer gives you good storage options as well as being fun for your passenger
It is possible to ride with more than one child attached to a normal bike
When you have gained some understanding of which bike and what type of carrying set up is best, it will be time to either buy a bike or sort out your currant one. When you’re doing all this stuff please keep safety in mind
- where possible get good quality which will last the repetitive daily use that you want to get out of it
- visibility in traffic will be an important part of your everyday life – wear bright colours and get a great set of rechargeable lights
- keep your loads balanced and well secured, expect to have to adjust your riding and get used to riding with weight
- again good quality helmets that will last through the high usage, protect you in the environment you are riding in and if toddlers are involved, work in kids seats
- you must have checking systems in place…Am I Safe to Ride in Town or Ride with Kids
- make good safe route choices. The direct way may not always be best especially if high traffic volume applies when you are well loaded
get Inspired and goRide – Using a Bike as Your Primary Form of Transport
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Using a Cargo Bike to Transport Your Family
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