When we moved to Reading in 2018 one of the first things we bought was a cargo bike.
Being a second–generation non-driver and life-long cyclist, I had been thinking of getting one ever since we had a child to put into it, but living on the 5th floor of a block of flats with no lift made it impractical. Now we had a house with a small front garden to keep the bike, we were raring to go.
Getting hold of one was much simpler than you would think. A company called Kids and Family Cycles, based on the South Coast, will come to your house in a big van, bringing three different bikes of your choice to try out.
After testing a Christiana Bike (Scandi cool) and a two-wheeled Bakfiets (surprisingly stable), we settled on a three-wheeled beast of a machine from a Dutch company called Babboe.
This is not a vehicle built for speed, even in the low-geared world of cargo bikes. Compared to a normal bike, or even other cargo bikes, it feels like driving a tank.
But with its swept-back handlebars it felt like a nicer ride and the slightly larger box seemed like a good idea for a family without a car.
Cargo bikes are eye-wateringly expensive, costing about as much as a second-hand car, so two years in, was it worth it? Absolutely.
Although the weight of the bike and the lack of any suspension means that you feel every bump in the road – and oh my, do we have plenty of them in Reading – getting to the shops is a breeze.
We can easily fit a whole week’s worth of shopping and a toddler in the front. For a number of things, such as the supermarket run, and trips into town, the ease of parking makes the cargo bike genuinely more convenient than a car.
Travelling around in the bike makes our three-year-old daughter the envy of the neighbourhood and there is hardly ever an argument about getting into it.
She can climb in and secure the straps herself, making leaving the house easy. From Wantage Road in West Reading we can leave the house and be on Broad Street in less than 15 minutes. Try that with the bus!
Despite the slow speed, the size of the bike means that cars give us a wide birth, and the novelty of seeing us bump along the road even calms the road rage of a deranged parent stuck behind me on the school run.
Now with a second child, and trips over the hill to Southcote for ballet classes, our only regret is that we didn’t get the electric version!