Park the Vehicle, Use a Cargo Bike Instead

Meet some families who say their lives have been changed

Avoiding the gas pumps. Being able to take the family from place to place, while seeing the city at the same time.

On Monday, Ward Papastew Coun. Michael Janz and a group of cargo bike enthusiasts met at the Garneau Lamp, just to the south of the High Level Bridge, to show off their two-wheeled treasures.

And, over and over, these riders told me that saving money in the time of high fuel prices, plus the ability to make their journeys part of their family adventures, were the reasons that they’d integrated cargo bikes into their lifestyles.

These bikes offer the ability to haul major items — some up to 440 pounds. Most of them have battery-assisted power. They can handle large loads of groceries or multiple kids. One person told me she hauled a Christmas tree home on her bike.

This coming Saturday, Bike Edmonton will be hosting a “show and tell” about cargo bikes at the Garneau Lamp, and the nearby Metro Cinema will be showing the documentary, Motherload. The bike event starts at 2 p.m., and the movie, which is about the rising popularity of cargo bikes, starts at 3 p.m. (Admission by donation, register here.)

“People are looking for transportation alternatives,” said Janz. “It’s driven by the price of gas, driven by climate change, driven by curiosity.

“Delivery companies are using them as a more nimble, faster, more responsive alternative to delivery trucks. This (bike) can provide a 12-month-a-year alternative. During the winter, I just put studs on my tires and I can ride through the ice and snow, no problem.”

Below are some testimonials from cargo bike owners.

Sara Spence and Dan Spence, South Common
“We’re pretty bike heavy now that we have the electric assist… We can really adventure through all of Edmonton. The other day, I did 76 kilometres with just (my daughter), from the south side, to Ezio Faraone and we went downtown to see the Spark display. It doesn’t feel like work, it feels like an adventure every single day with her.
“Since we got it on May 1, we’ve put on 420k. We ride every day. We just use the car for bigger distances — the airport, Red Deer, Spruce Grove. We do our groceries and all our errands by bike.”

Lisa Brown, Oliver
“When our daughter was born, we ordered our cargo bike pretty soon after. We bike year round. It enables us to move around quickly and efficiently, and the coolest thing has been that the journeys to our destinations are part of the fun.
“We do have one car, and we have our e-bikes. If we can’t use our bikes, then we’ll drive. But, most of the time, I’d say 90 per cent of the time within city limits, we use the bikes.
“We do our Christmas tree pick-up with it. It’s way easier than the car, because we don’t have to do any clean-up.”

Danielle Soneff, Garneau
“We have two young kids, so if we have to go to IKEA we use our vehicle. But I’d say 80 per cent of our trips are by bike, even to the west end, where our child care and grandparents are.
“I think there’s a big fiscal component to it. I had a 2010 Subaru Impreza before, and it was costing me more in one year than what this bike is worth. We don’t have to pay a lot in repairs and maintenance for this bike. We change our own tires every year. The costs are minimal.
“We don’t have to pay for gas, we just eat croissants. That’s our fuel.”

Darcy Reynard, Westmount
“It allows us to maintain being a one-car family and it allows me to have some mobility now that I can’t drive anymore.” (Reynard has a visual impairment.)
“I use it mostly for transporting kids around. And grocery shopping, anything I can fit in there (the cargo bin). I even brought a rowing machine home.”

Sarah Bisbee and Scott Bisbee, Twin Brooks
“We got rid of our car last June 3rd, and it’s been really good. It’s been an interesting year. We went down to one car five years ago when we bought the first bike. And, last year, we decided we were going to go car-free, full-time. We weren’t really using the van, and our insurance kept going up. Then, fuel went high last year and we said ‘why are we paying for this?’
“We go everywhere. My son is at a school in Laurier Heights so I biked over there to pick him up, take him to his appointment and then go home. That was about a 30k round trip.
“Absolutely it’s changed our lives. I am just doing the totals for the year, but we are about $20,000 to the good since doing the switch.”