Pedalling around her local area on her cargo bike, one would think Louise had been doing this her whole life. Yet, it was not until her children were born that her venture into cargo bikes began.
“I rode before I had kids, I did some big tours with a friend in Tassie and by myself in New Zealand – I just loved it. I had my first child, and I found it really hard not riding. I added a typical toddler seat onto my bike but it was so hard to manage, and hard to even get him into the seat,” Louise explained.
This was enough to turn Louise off riding but after her second child she got to the point of “‘If I don’t start riding again, I’ll completely lose my identity’. I was stuck with two babies at home not doing anything. I got frustrated one day and walked into my local bike shop and discussed options.”
“Shortly after, I ordered all the parts and the local shop set up the bike for me. My normal hybrid bike was converted into a cargo bike.”
“I rode that bike around for years with the boys. It was really hard at first to build up that extra muscle to carry the additional weight of the two boys, then 2 & 4, plus the seats and pannier bags.”
Riding around Inner Sydney with two children on a bike was unusual ten years ago. Louise used to turn many heads as she rode by but the boys were all smiles.
It took some time to learn where to ride with a cargo bike. Many routes that would seem ok for a “normal” bike would be a struggle for a cargo bike – the Sydney Harbour Bridge steps for example. Learning through experience or from others, Louise found most routes are cargo friendly.
“Usually you can manoeuvre your way through things but it can be frustrating and you may have to ask for help.”
Ten years later and coming up to her 40th birthday, Louise had her eye on upgrading to an electric cargo bike.
“I remember someone mentioning electric bikes to me years ago and I just thought it was cheating.”
Yet now, Louise’s mind is completely changed.
“I just started riding so much more because of the electric, it opens it up so many options. On days where you are feeling a little flat, you just rely on the electric more, you just use it. There are days where I hardly use it at all it, it depends on how I’m feeling and how much cargo I have.”
Having raised her four children with bike riding as part of their route, they all love it. Her two eldest (13 and 11) ride to school while Lou rides her third (6) on her cargo bike and the fourth (15 months) enjoys riding around with her.
“I’m doing a lot of rides at the moment with the baby. I’ve been exploring and remembering routes I’ve done in the past. It’s been interesting to see the bits they have connected, I tend to bicycle on shared paths when they are available.”
Her advice for anyone thinking about a cargo bike?
“Go give it a try! Visit your local bike shop or ask a friend, just give it a go! It’s not as cumbersome and difficult as it looks, it steers and balances just like a normal bike.”