On the first day of Christmas my cargo bike gave to me…..
Here goes my 12 reasons why it’s an incredible investment to buy a cargo bike, provided you’re in a situation that will suit one. (Kids, proximity to Creche/schools, form of transport etc).
This was originally delivered as 12 separate posts over 12 days leading up to Christmas 2021. Here they are in one lumpy chunk!! Enjoy.
I’m going to start with FUN.
They are just a barrel of laughs! For both child and parent. I get such a kick out of decorating the cargo bike during the year. Even when it doesn’t look like a Christmas tree on wheels, the bike still turns heads and brings a smile to many onlookers. As you know, smiles are more contagious than Covid and they come with a barrage of FUN symptoms like saluting everyone you see, laughing to yourself whilst cruising around and pretending the smiles are your fuel to keep pedalling. Roisín (my daughter) likes that one! The bike is simply a vehicle of Fun and the cargo bike multiplies this ten fold.
On the second day of Christmas my cargo bike gave to me….
A phenomenal mood and mental health boost
This is a huge reason and one that drives us out in the wind and rain. Our main use for the cargo bike is bringing Roisín (and soon Zoey) to and collecting from preschool. It has been backed by strong science that one of the best things you can do for your mental health and mood is to get morning light into your eyes and unfortunately this boosting effect does not happen when looking through a windscreen. 80% of the cells in our body are connected to the circadian rhythm and so they rely on natural light in the morning and again in the late afternoon to help keep them operating as nature intended. You also get a nice dollop of endorphins when pushing the pedals, even if the motor kicks in to help me up the hills!
On the third day of Christmas my cargo bike gave to me…..
Excitement and imagination.
I’ve just come back down to the sitting room after reading my 3 year old Roisín her bedtime stories. I mentioned to Rósh after her story that we will be sailing the pirate ship (cargo bike) to pre-school tomorrow but that we have an elf on board and the elf wants us to change from a pirate ship to a reindeer sleigh. Rósh loved it and is totally up for the conversion! The excitement is shared equally between us but the imagination is mostly with Roisín. I do try! We have fashioned up so many imaginative stories since adopting the bike in May 2019. Our talented cargo bike has played the role of a rollercoaster, a smile machine, a front row seat for a shadow puppet show and an entertaining ghost ride for Roisín’s friends at Halloween.
On the fourth day of Christmas my cargo bike gave to me….
Optic flow and fresh air
You may not have heard of optic flow before but everyone on Mother Earth has heard of the preciousness of fresh air. Together, they are a mighty combo. Optic flow is defined as the motion of all surface elements from the visual world. It is how your eyes pick up these elements is where the flow comes into it. The elements come in all shapes and sizes from potholes to people, butterflies and sign posts, to car doors and tree tops. When cycling/walking in the outdoors, our eyes are flowing from side to side all of the time picking up these elements. Optic flow has been shown to be a mood enhancer and is actually used in the treatment of anxiety states such as in post traumatic stress disorders. Mixing it with fresh air and especially fresh air when exercising is a win win situation for many reasons. One of which is that you will be taking deeper breaths when cycling and this will bring in more oxygen into the cells of the body and brain. Serotonin, the happy hormone, is strongly related to the amount of oxygen in your blood, making sense of why you feel good after being outside.
On the fifth day of Christmas my cargo bike gave to me….
Money in the back pocket.
It is as clear as clingfilm that running a cargo bike costs significantly less than a car. It even costs less to run this bike per week than the price of a packet of clingfilm from Supervalue and way better for the environment. No plastic or petroleum necessary. We own a car and a cargo bike instead of two cars.
The average cost of running a car in 2019 was €10,691.12 according to the AA. The average cost of cycling our Bakfiets Milano Cargo bike is €190!!
I’m guessing for the 11.6Ah Lithium Ion battery, it can’t be more than €2 to fully charge it on our off-peak electricity rate. With the daily trips to the creche and occasional spins into Cork city, the battery needs to be charged once per week.
We have it serviced once per year for €90 and since buying it 2nd hand for €1400 in May 2019, we haven’t needed to repair or replace any parts except for the battery. The battery was sent to a company in Holland for overhaul/regeneration at a cost of €280. That’s it sorted for another 5+ years.
I needed to buy a tube (€5.50) for the front tyre a few months back after our one and only puncture. It was a lucky one if you can call it that, happened just outside our estate and also acted as a lesson for Roisín in the importance of trapped air for transport!!
On the sixth day of Christmas my cargo bike gave to me…
Reliability = less stress
Our main use of the cargo bike as mentioned earlier is bringing our daughter Roisín to pre-school which is 2.5km from the house. But this particular route, especially a certain Mathew hill and Forge hill are infamous for their level of traffic. Some mornings there can be a line of red lights as far up the hill that it can come right up to the estate! That’s feckin’ bad like. Other mornings it can be pretty tame. In an attempt to figure it out, it’s strongly linked to school traffic more so than work traffic. But not always! Anyways, it’s bleedin’ traffic and it can stress us, even the calm Dali Lama personalities amongst us, at times!
The beauty of the bike is the freedom to cut through this queue like melted butter flowing down the hill. If anyone is concerned for our safety here, I can understand why, but it’s worth noting that traffic coming up the hill is moving slowly due to the line of cars going in the opposite direction. We are also lighting up like a Christmas tree at all times during the year! To get to my point, I can leave with Roisín at 8:15am and know that we will arrive at her pre-school before 8:30, every time. That’s nice to know when mornings can get a bit hectic, especially now with another baby in the mixing pot! Same story on the way home from pre-school with peak traffic times coinciding with collection. Cargo = reliability = less stress.
On the seventh day of Christmas my cargo bike gave to us…..
I believe that Roisín, myself and Ash have a pretty strong connection going on, and the cargo bike adds to it. Take this morning as an example, we covered the following topics of conversation: Christmas party at pre-school excitement, will the elf on the shelf be able to get out of the castle made from magna-tiles tonight and fix your helmet, it’s falling off your head. You see, Roisín is right there in front of me. I fixed her helmet! The closeness certainly connects us when we are on the move. Over the years, I’ve been able to hold her head up when she dozes off to sleep, pop a phone with a video call to her Mom in front of her (or her actual Mom in front of her!!) and my cold fingers down the back of her neck for the laugh!! That’s probably a disconnector to be fair!
On the eight day of Christmas my cargo bike gave to me….
Our cargo bike runs on both human and electrical power, with the ratio between the two highly dependent on the cyclist’s mood and energy levels! It works like this, the motor will kick in once you pedal. You can pedal softly and the motor will back you up more or you can pedal with vigour and the motor will back off a little more. You also have three motor power options to work with. Funny that I previously just used the low power option for the first year and a half but now find myself using the middle power most of the time!! I’ll only use the high power motor if I’m hungover or severely lacking in sleep!! Not to lose touch with the topic here, even if we’re cruising to creche on the most support available from the electric motor, we’re still green. We’ll be a darker green in 8-9months when we lob Zoey and Roisín into the cargo bike and carry both their asses to the same creche before Roisín heads off to big school when we’ll have to make two drop offs on the one trip! To make it clear here, it’s not just me that steers our dear bike, Aisling is co-captain of the pirate ship too!!
On the ninth day of Christmas my cargo bike gave to me……
Physical activity and Improved Immunity
This is never so topical at the moment what with Omicron and other winter bugs knocking on the door. Physical activity is priceless for your health for so many reasons. Immunity is one such reason. We know that staying active improves our immunity but we still don’t know exactly how. The theories below have yet to be proved but are strong contenders.
On the tenth day of Christmas my cargo bike gave to me….
Freedom of the city
The thing about a cargo bike is that it is big enough to be a tiny car but without the hassle and the legal responsibilities of a tiny car! The thing is bloody marvellous in that it can sweep us away into town with minimal effort (see yesterday’s blog), takes about a max of 15mins and when we get there, we can pull it up outside any bar, cafe, shop, post office, cinema or playground without having to squabble around for a parking ticket or have to think twice about having a pint in the said bar listed above!! Ultimate freedom. Plus there is plenty of room for bits and bobs in the bowels of the bike, including Roisín!! I’ve had the shopping in there, my two nieces, my wife and Roisín’s own bike. All at separate times, mind you! Cork city is becoming more and more bike friendly with new bike paths springing up all the time. Big thanks to Cork Cycling Campaign for their constant work in shaping the council’s decisions around bike infrastructure in Cork city. Cycling in Cork city is so much more pleasurable and safe than it ever was and will improve even more so with time. So on your bike.
On the eleventh day of Christmas my cargo bike gave to Roisín
A role model for having fun whilst exercising.
They say the best way to steer your kids down a healthy path filled with exercise and good food is to take that same path yourself. We started cycling with Roisín in the cargo bike when she was 8 months old and now she’s 3 months over 3 years old. She has learned a lot about self-propelled movement into the great outdoors in that time through osmosis more than anything. It’s only recently (literally the last few mornings) that she is asking me to take her to pre-school in the cargo bike rather than the car. That’s interesting to me in that she is no longer passive in the car Vs bike decision and so she is now driving me on to stay active on our commute to her creche. So myself and Ash maybe acting as a healthy active role model for her, but in return Roisín is keeping us healthy and active!! Lastly, thought I’d give you lot a little whistle stop tour of the bike with its Xmas costume on and Roisín in there. Taken earlier today when we arrived back home.
On the twelfth day of Christmas my cargo bike gave to us…..
By rolling around in a cargo bike, you also place yourself and your cargo into the strong community of cyclists here in Cork. Not only that, we have found that you become part of a wider community. Cycling a cargo bike turns heads! Smiley heads, inquisitive heads, generally all round positive vibes from said heads. These people make a connection with the bike in that flash as you pass them by, it might be a tiny connection, but it’s a connection all the same. We find having this beast of a bike that sticks out like a sore thumb becomes a talking point that encourages people to approach us and sparks conversation. Kinda like a little cute puppy !! Jaysus, now a puppy in the cargo bike would be some serious magnetic combo! If any puppy owners are interested in this social experiment, please get in touch.
It’s been a blast writing these posts and I hope they have been both interesting and eye-opening to read. Please do your bit to let this blog go viral and spread like wildfire.
Thanks to those who shared my daily posts over the 12 days of Christmas and helped to put these snippets in front of those who are on the fence whether to invest or not. Go on, go on, go on!
Happy Christmas everyone from the Phelans. X