Riding around town on a cargo bike

IMG_5490So my daughter has been riding around town for some time now on her Nihola and this has brought to light some of the infrastructure and attitudinal challenges she has to deal with here in Newcastle.

While it is possible to ride it in most parts of town, the ground has to be reasonably flat for it to be viable. As it is obviously not possible to gutter hop at all, there needs to be adequate kerb ranks going to and from the footpath and the road. These are much better if they are smooth at the entry point to the road, as in the case of all bike riders. If their gradient is too great, the front of the Nihola will strike the ground and also make it difficult to ride up, partly because she has to come to a complete stop, and then there is the gradient to deal with when starting the (heavily laden) bike again. She has learnt to avoid places where that is the case. The same problems would exist for wheelchair and mobility chair users.

Then there is the issue of pressing the button at the traffic lights. In many instances, the distance from the front of the bike to her seating position makes it impossible to reach the button without dismounting from the bike. This is a relatively minor inconvenience when on a three wheeled cargo bike as the bike does not require a stand, but when on a two-wheeled bike it creates much more inconvenience for the rider who has to put the bike onto the stand for stability when they dismount, all just to press the traffic light button.

Attitudes from some locals also need to change. Today at the pool she was allowed to take the bike into the pool but was told that next time she will not be allowed to do so. With a toddler and a baby, the bike acts as a pram as well as a form of transport …IMG_5479As all parents know, negotiating the removal of two or more young children from a car and into the destination takes some planning. It is harder when one is a toddler and can run off at any moment, especially in a car park where there is a myriad of dangers present, which is where the bike would have to be left in this case. This is the reason why at shopping centres now there is parking space for parents with prams close to the entry points. There is no lack of space inside the pool grounds for many such bikes …IMG_5494Having the bike available to place one child while dealing with the other child made it much easier for her today while in the pool grounds. Her Nihola is the only one of its kind in Newcastle, and there are very few two-wheeled cargo bikes, so it stands to reason that the authorities do not know how to deal with such a vehicle which they would classify as a bike but which in fact serves other functions and could be classed as being more similar to a mobility device such as elderly and disabled people use and deserves similar consideration.

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4 Responses to Riding around town on a cargo bike

  1. anniebikes says:

    Your daughter may pave the way for changes in Newcastle. It’s pure fun to see her get around on such an interesting machine. So useful!

  2. Jess says:

    Yeah! It’s pure fun to ride as well. However, to note, hills are not an issue, within a few rides with the kids and baggage my legs seemed to work with first gear to get up the most daunting of Newcastle hills… Though most destinations do allow for a flatter more scenic route if necessary. I think that for many people choosing a cargo bike in a hilly part of town an electric assist wheel would be the way to go. I personally don’t have one but some days….

  3. Andrew Graf says:

    You guys are bicycle pioneers, well done. You’re probably seeing a few more cargo bikes in Newcastle these days.

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