I'd love to see more parents with their kids using bikes as a means to get around town. I have friends who really resent the fact that they 'need' a second car in order to successfully manage family life. I have a colleague who would love to commute to work by bike but doesn't know how to integrate this with dropping his kid off at school in the morning.
Of course in established bicycle cultures like Denmark and Holland cargo bikes are used not just to deliver large goods but act as an integral part of everyday family life. With a cargo bike you can bike the kids to school, do the weekly shop, even move house, and still ride to work.
Away from these bike-centric countries there are early adopters of cargo bikes like Matt from North America who bikes his gorgeous twins around in his bakfiets (follow his exploits over at his blog Bikes Can Work) or the good customers of London cargo bike specialists Velorution. But, encouraging people to be early adopters of anything is a real uphill struggle - who wants to be the first Mum to rock up on the school run with their kids on a bike when everyone else is rolling around in 4x4s?
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore launches the City of Sydney / Marickville cargo bike library. Photo courtesy of Sydney Cycle Chic.
As a consequence I think we should be doing all we can to encourage families to get riding on cargo bikes. The benefits are of course just like the benefits of riding any bike, plus the added bonus of getting to spend more time with the kids whilst going from A to B; something we found that was important to parents here before. But it's a big step to give up a family car and move over to a bike, and some people are initially put off by the cost of cargo bikes (though of course they are not nearly as expensive as running a car or two). We should continue to maintain our campaigning focus on reducing road danger, providing good cycling infrastructure and all the rest of it, but the City of Sydney has already provided a great template for London to follow. Launched a few months ago by Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, the Watershed cargo bike Library provides a stock of bike trailers, heavy load riders and cargo bikes for families to test and get used to before they consider buying one for themselves. The same idea has also been proposed by Kim Harding over at her blog - good ideas spread quickly! Projects like this can be great enablers in terms of getting people to make that first 'leap of faith' and of course borrowing a bike and finding you love it is a much less daunting prospect compared to giving up the family car outright and hoping for the best.
Copenhagen Cargo Bikes from Streetfilms on Vimeo.
Streetfilms explores Copenhagen's cargo bike culture at it's cargo bike race.
Do you have kids? Would you consider doing the school run on a cargo bike? Would you borrow one from a Library? How about it, Boris Johnson?!