This is a story, of a lovely family… (currently of 4 humans and 3 dogs) as we live the cargo bike life.
The person writing most of this is Arleigh, often known as Bike Shop Girl after spending almost 20 years in the bike industry. I have grown up around cycling and have spent about 1/2 of my adult life car-free. In 2008 I found the way of the cargo bike thanks to the Xtracycle Freeradical, this was before kids and many responsibilities so I would go bikecamping, to bike events as a mechanic, and ultimately replace my car with that Xtracycle Freeradical.
Fast forward to 2015 and our first child, Ellington, was born. I became a stay at home mom and went from riding my bike 10-15 hours a week to losing my athletic identity to taking care of a small baby. Enter the Larry vs Harry Bullitt cargo bike which I started riding with my daughter on bike paths when she was 6 months old and in a rear-facing infant seat. Though this was only 4 years ago there was only a handful of cargo bikes available and the Bullitt was the best option. We ordered it from a beautiful shop in Portland, Splendid Cycles, and my life was forever changed. Watch my review of the Bullitt here:
After using the Bullitt and my Xtracycle Freeradical for several years I fell in love with the cargo bike life. I was able to show my children the world, go about my daily life of carrying things, and even as a mobile bike mechanic. As many people rode my bikes and started becoming interested in the cargo bike life it became clear that there wasn’t a family-focused bike shop to send my friends to. My local neighborhood of Stapleton in Denver, Colorado has miles of bike lanes and dedicated paths but our only local shop is a dedicated high-end store and not one that would sell cargo bikes or dedicated kid’s bikes. After my mobile bike mechanic business grew, and we had a 2nd kid, our family decided it was time to open a family cyclery, a friendly and inclusive bike shop for cargo bikes, kids’ bikes, and wonderful bike service.
In the fall of 2018, we opened Bike Shop Girl Family Cyclery in NW Aurora right off a new bike path! WE carry some of the best cargo and kid’s bikes from Xtracycle, Urban Arrow, Tern, Riese & Muller, Argo Cargo, Woom, Cleary, and Surly.
Going Car Light
As we were building this bike shop, and I was biking the kids (and our dogs) everywhere it became apparent that we didn’t really need 2 cars. One was typically sitting and if it wasn’t sitting it probably could have been.
We had 2 core concerns about going down to one car:
- What happens if there is an emergency?
- Can we survive a winter?
Emergency: We have decided if there is an emergency we will go down our Rolodex of friends and if no one is available then call an Uber and strap 2 car seats in.
Winter: We haven’t gone through the full winter here in Denver, CO but my personal attitude is we can always ride the fat bike and trailer but if the weather is that terrible we can tag team with our one car or call an Uber for whoever doesn’t have the kids.
Worst Case Scenario
I make big decisions by weighing the worst case scenario to see how terrible it really is. The worst case is that we buy a new car and lose out on the tax credit from trading in vs selling our old car outright. That is roughly $600 and goes down by $75 a month from insurance savings. So, for example – if we last 4 months than we lost $300 in trying it. (Not including the expenses of bike gear but you get the point…)
One morning our 2nd car wouldn’t start after not being driven for a week. We committed to trying the 1 car life exclusively for another week and then had the car towed to the dealership to sell it. This was back in December of 2018 and so far we are thriving with our cargo bike life. I use a combination of Urban Arrow, and fat bike with Burley Trailer for daily mom life, and then also pull the Surly Bill Trailer to do pick up and delivery of bikes for the shop.
This website is my way of documenting our cargo bike life, and to show others how enjoyable it is to get out from behind the windshield to experience life and the freedom of the cargo bike life.
What’s Your Cargo Bike Story?
We would love to hear from you. Do you use cargo bikes in your life? Have you been thinking about it and have concerns? Think we are crazy? Add your comments below!