Fun by the bike load

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 12-Jun-2015

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ALL SMILES: Edwin and Rob out for some weekend fun on their Dutch cargo bike. Photo: R Kretschmer
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BY HELEN CRONIN

Rob learned there is a wrong way to try and persuade your partner to buy a Dutch style cargo bike. He suggested it might replace the family car.

It was when their three-year-old son sat grinning with delight in the box seat of a Bakfiets during a test ride that she was won over.

Their bike arrived soon after and has been working hard since. In its first three months, Rob has pedalled more than 600 kilometres, enjoying every minute. In recent months he has made nearly $2600 worth of purchases by bike, four times more than by car (and filled only once since).

Rob remembers the surprised look across the counter when first asking for 20 kilograms of chicken feed, helmet in hand. The same shopping trip brought home cat litter, groceries and Edwin, which didn’t near the bike’s 100kg carrying capacity.

With a big load he can engage the electric motor to help, but says he doesn’t rely on it very often.

It is a different riding experience from his old steel road bike.

“It’s a bit like going from a small car to a bigger car, but you adjust fairly quickly,” he said.

“It wasn’t long before I was swinging confidently around corners.”

The trip to and from childcare is now a chance for father and son to catch up.

“He really loves it,” Rob said. “We can talk while riding, sing a song, point things out. He can eat a snack with teddy sitting beside him.”

On the weekends they put Edwin’s trike in the box with him and ride down to the farmers market or out along the creek trail.

“We can stop at two or three playgrounds and he’ll have a ride around each one. You don’t do that in a car. You don’t stop and smell the roses.”

And the fun is contagious. “I love seeing the slight puzzlement on people’s faces at first, followed by a smile when Edwin waves as we roll by.”

The Kiss and Stay program (facebook.com/KissAndStay), started by Dutch Cargo Bikes, encourages parents to turn the smile into a new way to take kids to school or childcare.

As a member, Rob stops by the Free Wheeling tent at the farmers market so people can take a look or even a test ride.

He said once you’ve got it you won’t want to get off.

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