KUOW: Family bikes and better bike routes key to getting more Seattleites to bike

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 11.30.57 AMKUOW has a wonderful radio story asking a question at the core of the recently-approved Bike Master Plan: How can Seattle get more people biking?

The first answer is pretty straightforward: More connected and complete bike routes that are comfortable for people of all ages and abilities. The more places people can get to without feeling stressed or in danger, the more trips people will choose to bike.

The second answer is just as important, but perhaps less talked about: People need bikes versatile enough to accomplish all life tasks. For families, that means Seattle needs access to cargo bikes.

Two Seattle Bike Blog advertisers sell family bikes (Ride Bicycles and G&O Family Cyclery). KUOW chats with Davey Oil of G&O, who explains the need his shop is trying to meet. From KUOW:

“Women are expected to pick up the children, pick up the groceries,” Oil said. “And it’s going to be a lot harder to do that kind of trip chaining on typical commuter bikes.”

G&O tries to solve that problem by building the kind of bikes you can really haul stuff with. Oil shows off his own bike, a customized extra-cycle edge runner nicknamed “Blue-y.” It has a cushioned bench on the back that kids can straddle. That bench is surrounded with a myriad of special doodads, like wraparound handlebars, running boards and cargo bags. And, of course, a bell.

All that customization means that Oil’s kids can ride hands free. They can eat a sandwich, blow bubbles or even take a nap. “It gives the whole thing,” he said, “more of the backseat experience. But like a really rad backseat.”

Blue-y also has four cargo bags on the back wheel and a basket in the front. And, if hauling kids and groceries up Seattle’s hills sounds like a slog, G&O can even install an electric assist motor.

Listen to the story here.

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4 Responses to KUOW: Family bikes and better bike routes key to getting more Seattleites to bike

  1. Van says:

    Its one thing to talk about access and quite another to talk about “availability” I hate to be the one to bring up class, but I’ve made a few observations about bike equipment and its costs relative to the people who need it the most. Its been a while since I’ve had to haul around kids, but I remember what an added expense they were! Most new families do not have 3 grand to spare, and if they do its probably going to a used car. Not because they don’t want a cargo bike, but customarily people don’t expect to pay more than a grand for a decent bike. Frankly the cyclist who need it the most wouldn’t even pay a grand for a decent bike, but make do with a cheap model from Krogers or Target. A parent is more likely to buy a bike trailer/seat-trailer for an already existing bike, and the cost leaves enough left over for a second bike.
    Like in this story: http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2014/06/26/the-bicycle-story-ed-ewing-on-why-expanding-diversity-is-vital-for-bike-advocacy/#more-346298 its partly infrastructure, but partly cost.

    Kids like myself KNEW they could use panners, baskets, whatever, to haul groceries. However, its more likely a kid like myself would simply spend the money on groceries and haul the goods home precariously balanced on the handle-bars. Just like moms and dads KNOW they can get a cargo bike. But they’re more likely to go with what they consider to be the most viable option. Don’t get me wrong I’m excited to see another option blossoming for Seattle!

    But… isn’t it time we cyclists did something about this crippling equipment shortage? I’d love to participate in a charity drive for helmets, panners, lights, or even a giveaway for a new (poor) family getting a cargo bike (especially such spiffy ones!) If there’s already such, forgive my ignorance and enlighten me :D

    • Andres Salomon says:

      Both stores in the story also sell child seats that attach to your existing bike. That is the cheapest option for kid carrying (roughly $50 – $250 new, vs $300 – $650 for a trailer). Basically the same price range as a car child seat!

    • Jay says:

      KUOW’s take on the subject and Tom’s headline are perhaps a bit odd. the KUOW broadcast/web post talks about Bob Edmiston’s paper (there is a link at KUOW to the 9 page PDF) which says nothing about “Wendy” having any desire for a cargo bike, the hypothetical “Wendy” already has a bike and a trailer, what she really, really wants is safe infrastructure, and if she doesn’t have it, she’s probably not going to do any riding that would be helped much by a cargo bike. Also, there is about zero chance she will be going “car free”, give her the choice between an Urban Arrow or $5500 for gas and car payments and she won’t even think twice.
      Now an “Eddie” who is a dad, or the rare female version of “Eddie”, might be happy to have a cargo bike, but they also may well be willing to consider it a replacement for a second car (or maybe any car) making the cost much less of an issue. However, the “Enthused and Confident” “Eddies” are a minority and they are already riding, so they are not so much part of “getting more Seattleites to bike” (other than being an inspiration, and a lobbying for improved biking infrastructure)
      TLDR: not so much equipment shortage as it is infrastructure, though your point about class is probably still relevant.

    • Al Dimond says:

      As with cars, the best deals on bikes are almost always on used ones. There may not be many used cargo bikes out there today, but… as the problem of needing to haul kids around on a bike only lasts until the kids can ride around themselves, maybe affordable used cargo and kid-hauling bikes will be easy to find in a few years. This is common with a lot of durable children’s items, including bikes of course.

      The points about hitching relatively cheap trailers and racks to relatively cheap bikes are, of course, extremely relevant. You absolutely can get lots of utility out of a bike for very little money, which is one of their best attributes. An either-or choice between an expensive bike and a cheap car applies for few people… even if biking allows you to eliminate a car, there’s no shortage of places to put the savings to use outside of basic transportation.

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