The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Lifestyles

December 9, 2013

Cargo bikes the new minivan for cycling families

(Continued)

Some cost between $1,000 and $5,000.

“If you want to park your car, this is the way to go,” said Joel Grover, co-owner of Splendid Cycles in Portland, Ore. The shop opened four years ago mostly to sell to businesses, but quickly began catering to families who wanted wheels to handle more than one kid.

“We’re reaching a point where all these cities are encouraging people to go places by bike,” co-owner Barb Grover said.

Seattle dad Davies has logged about 2,000 miles on his cargo bike. A rain cover and electric assist helps him power through Seattle’s rain and hilly terrain. His two young kids sit in a large front box built between the handlebars and front wheel.

It’s more convenient to take the bike for errands because it’s easier to park, he said. But he enjoys the social aspect of being able to chat with his kids as he rides.

Madi Carlson, 41, regularly schlepps her two young kids along with their bikes on her pink long-tail bike, which has kids seats mounted over the rear of the bike.

The three usually cover about 10 miles a day, riding between school, home, playdates and errands.

The Seattle mom considers it a challenge to carry absurd loads. She once tried to haul a box spring mattress, and made it six blocks before she had to call her husband for a lift.

“That damn box spring,” she laughed. “That’s one of the problems with cargo bikes. You just want to carry bigger and more exciting loads. You just want to see what you can do.”

As for safety, Carlson said she bikes slowly and defensively and sticks to dedicated bike paths where possible. “I worry a lot more about accidents in the car,” she said.

Randy Swart, director of the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, said he hasn’t seen studies on cargo bike safety, but “most of them seem very stable.” He added: “From what I’ve seen, not from scientific evidence, they seem like a pretty reasonable solution for carrying kids.”

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