You don’t have to spend too much time walking or cycling in Britain to realise the hierarchy on British roads is at the expense of vulnerable road users. Research due to be published later this year will show that cargo bike riders are afforded more room by drivers owing to the primary road position adopted by their riders.
The news will come as welcome news to a new breed of cargo trikes that fool drivers into thinking they are cars. With typical Italian design flair, Milan-based bicycle builders Agnelli style the front of their cargo trike to look like classic cars like the original Fiat 500 and Citroen 2CV.
The cargo box of the 2CV trike sits on old-fashioned leaf suspension and carries leather satchels and an umbrella on its side.
Ditch the diesel…invest in a cargo bike
The best cargo bikes might cost the same as a good secondhand car, but their widespread uptake in cities would have a transformative effect on our collective quality of life. Most importantly, they offer a opportunity for many to ditch the diesel.
Imagine school run congestion, and the associated road danger, replaced with a procession of sturdy bikes – their cargo boxes brimming with kids. And if you worry your thighs aren’t quite up to the job of carrying the combined weight of up between two and four kids, there are electric motors available as an optional extra.
Most people will be unable to spend thousands on a cargo bike, while at the same time running a car. But for those who can turn to public transport, rental vehicles or a car share club when needed, they can make financial as well as environmental sense.
Giving up a car in favour of a cargo bike
Giving up a car in favour of a cargo bike and in the process saying goodbye to insurance, VED, petrol, resident permits, parking charges and fines, servicing costs and devaluation – not to mention the gym membership you’ll no longer need – can save the average city driver over £3,500 every year. £3,500 happens to be the price of the latest electric assist cargo bike from Butchers and Bicycles.
Elsewhere in Europe, the bicycle is considered a practical alternative to the car and cargo designs are used to carry loads of up to 250 kg. In Britain, faced with a growing number of parcels, the Post Office has fazed out bicycle deliveries. By contrast, and in a perfect illustration of the European attitude towards cycling as a mode of transport, in Germany they developed a larger and stronger cargo bicycle to cope with the extra demand.
Such cargo bikes tend to be, by their nature, big and heavy and relatively slow. The Butchers and Bicycles MK1 aims to challenge the perception of how fun and easy riding a cargo bike can be without compromising usability.
The Mk1-E uses the same ‘built-to-tilt’ system that features on the rest of the range, but it also boasts a powerful Bosch eBike electric motor and an integrated parking stand that’s easily operated from the rider’s position. The cargo box seats two children aged up to around seven.
Carrying kids by cargo bike
Cargo trikes are being bought in increasing numbers in London, not only by businesses looking for an environmentally-friendly way of bypassing the congestion charge, but by parents looking for a practical and fun alternative to the car for the school run.
When it comes to transporting young children by bike, especially on the school run, there are various options to choose between. By far the simplest and most popular is the child seat fitted onto the rear rack, but on a standard bike it is not possible to carry more than one child in this way.
In Denmark many families with two or more kids, have turned to the Christiania. There is a choice between a standard-sized model, which can fit two to three kids, and a longer version, which can comfortably seat four to six. The box where the kids sit is in front, so everyone gets a good view, while the rider can keep an eye on the kids.
The Madsen Cargo Bike is like any other bicycle features an extended frame equipped with a tub large sturdy enough to carry 250 kg. The advantage it has over the trikes is that it’s easier to store and park if space is tight.
On the face of it, one cycle insurance policy is much like another, but the devil is the detail. How much excess you will be charged is just one of the things that varies wildly between providers. Another is so called ‘new-for-old’ replacement – many insurers use this term, but if your bicycle is more than a few years old, devalue it severely. This means you are left out of pocket when you come to replace it.
For over 30 years we have been providing straightforward, affordable bicycle insurance you can trust. After all, The Good Shopping Guide has rated us ethical in Britain.