Any bike can be a cargo bike…

My daughter got a new bike for Christmas. She was saving up for it for the Spring (I was matching whatever she saved from her little job at the bakery) but she really needed it now. She rides about 3 miles a day, back and forth to school. Her old bike was too small, and after all that commuting had the baldest tires I have ever seen on any wheeled vehicle, and the single handbrake didn’t really work. Rather than fix this up for just a few months, I decided it was better to get it now. Amateur astronomers joke about a “new telescope curse” which guarantees cloudy skies when a new telescope arrives. I didn’t realize it applied to bicycles…as soon as I got it home from the store it started snowing, and it hasn’t really stopped since. Anyway.

During a pause in one of the many courses of our traditional Slovak Christmas eve meal, I quietly brought the bike up to the front porch. I was going to send her out there during gift time. When the meal ended, Zora collected all the cloth napkins and said “I’m going to shake these outside.”

“Oh, you don’t have to do that…clear the dishes off the table instead.” Phew.

After we opened all the presents (so it seemed), my wife said “Zora, can you shake these napkins outside?” I’m not sure Gabi knew about the earlier close call, or she independently thought of that ruse.

Zora was talking a mile a minute (which is the norm) as she stepped onto the stoop. Then sudden silence in the middle of her sentence. Then: “Why is there a bicycle out here?” She’s a trained ninja, so I could tell she wasn’t sure if she should embrace the bike or flip it over and off the stoop into the snow bank.

She luckily chose to retrain her destructive instincts, and instead rolled it inside. Here she is, now quite excited about the bike. The next day she was walking past it, when she paused and said “I can’t really believe that’s mine.” I remember that feeling when I was a kid.

Here she is considering it.

This Trek is really nice. I never had a bike this nice. It’s aluminum and really light. Actually, I never had an aluminum bike at all. It’s no step-through, mostly because Geneva Bicycle Center had this in stock and on sale, but also because my daughter doesn’t wear petticoats to school much. And, she’s a ninja. The GBC folks managed to fit 24″ PlanetBike plastic fenders on it. All general use bikes should come standard with fenders…do you hear that, bike manufacturers? Your buyers will ride them more, which means they will wear out quicker (and you’ll be developing more keen riders) who will then need/want to buy more of your bikes. (Or they’ll just keep fixing up their old bikes, in which case your rolling advertisements stay on the pavement longer.) Got it?

Anyway, the point of this post was really how to make any bike into a cargo carrying machine. It’s quite simple. Take a regular bike, add a few things, and its…abracadabra….a cargo bike. In this case, we took the rear pannier rack and two folding baskets from her old bike, and with a little bending here and tweaking there, a few leather washers and a few hours of hex wrench wrangling, we made this Trek into a complete transportation solution for a nine-year-old school commuter. Zora can carry her backpack, lunch bag, and pbone (a plastic trombone that Zora uses for band), or,  two full reusable grocery bags–those things hold a lot. Here’s the complete cargo bike.

bike-1

You can make your bike a cargo bike too. Your LBS (Local Bike Shop) can get you started. The investment is minimal. The return is considerable. It’s green. It’s healthy. It’s rewarding. And as this article shows, it’s actually good for your brain.

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