Friday, February 25, 2011

the cargo effect

We recently purchased a cargo bike - a massive three-wheeled chariot for transporting things like children.  This was motivated by two things.   Firstly, my partner and I have a bit of an anti-car  agenda.  I feel bad about driving children relatively short distances in a car when I would normally walk or ride my bike, if I didn’t have two children in tow.  And secondly, I am desperate for some vigorous physical activity.  Walking at the pace of a 5 year old does nothing for my cardio vascular fitness.  Riding a fully laden cargo bike around, on the other hand, is a fairly strenuous workout.  At first I felt a bit self-conscious about my very visible presence and being quite possibly the first person with a cargo bike in our suburb.  We definitely attract attention.  But apart from saving money on petrol, reducing our ‘carbon footprint’ and increasing my physical fitness, there is another quite lovely and unexpected bi-product.  Total strangers come up to me on the street to talk about the bike, people wave and call out encouraging things, parents at school come over for a chat. Our kids LOVE it.  They sit side by side, have a chat, share a snack, enjoy the wind in their hair and, I think, feel a bit special.  When I get home after the school/crèche drop-off, I have had my ‘work-out’ and get that fantastic burst of energy and feeling of aliveness that you get from physical exertion.  And also I feel happy that I am in some small way connecting with the community in which we live and breaking down some of my natural reticence and latent misanthropic tendencies.  All this from a bicycle (or tricycle to be more accurate).  Amazing.

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