Cargo takes the load
You might have seen a new breed of bike around town lately: it’s the bike you ride when you have something – or someone – to carry, and it’s called a cargo bike.
Clare Dullard wanted to find a way to transport her children, aged five, six and eight, without the car.
“We walked the one kilometre to school, but everywhere else we took the car. We were doing such short trips – two to five k’s – but the kilometres would add up. I’d sit in a line of cars looking at empty bike lanes. I just didn’t know how I could transport three kids on a bike, so I started researching.”
She eventually came across Dutch Cargo Bikes and had a trial ride.
“I was nervous because my kids fight a lot,” Clare said.
“But they had such huge smiles. They fight less in the cargo bike than in the car – instead they look at the birds and trees and tell each other jokes.”
Clare is one of a growing number of mums who uses a bike to transport her family around town instead of a car.
Beverley Scott and her husband Joel bought a cargo bike before their daughter Darby (now four) was born.
“We had friends with cargo bikes so we knew it was an option, and decided that’s what we wanted to do. Joel is an avid cyclist and I’m a bit of a pootler. I’ve struggled with maintaining my weight all my life and for me riding to work is an easy way of getting exercise,” Beverly said.
Darby has been in the cargo bike since birth, in a baby seat bolted to the bike.
“With a rear-facing baby seat we could watch her,” Beverly said.
“I think she got a lot of security as an infant because she could see us.
“We get lots of looks. Most are ‘Oh my God, look at that bike’ followed by ‘Oh my God there’s a child in that bike’.”
Most of it is really positive with people waving and smiling at Darby.
Clare said she felt she wasn’t accepted on the road.
“It’s the opposite on the cargo bike. People smile and wave and give us a lot of room. The kids are happy and that’s infectious, She said.”
Cargo bikes aren’t cheap, but both Clare and Beverley emphasise the significant savings from using their cargo bikes instead of a second car.
With electric assist, it’s not overly difficult.
“You don’t have to be a really confident rider to ride one of these,” Clare said.
“I find it easier than my normal bike. I’m much happier on the bike than in the car – and I’m getting me-time when I’m with the kids.”
Beverley is 49. “I’m not particularly fit at this point in time; I’m carrying a bit of weight,” she said.
“But I’m living a really active healthy lifestyle and I’m having a great time. If I can do this, anyone can: you don’t have to be young, fit and skinny.”
We are screening Motherload the movie to launch Bike Palooza Bendigo on October 4. Tickets available online here >
– Nicola Dunnicliff-Wells
Article first published in the Bendigo Weekly on 20 September 2019.