Monday, November 9, 2009

We're off!

We're trialling a Christiania delivery bike this week, thanks to the lovely Peter at psbikes. Yesterday, day 1, we toddled around the back streets getting used to the feel of it. We dropped in on my sister and shocked her neighbours by riding circles around her street - one neighbour stared at the bike with his mouth hanging open. Then we went to the supermarket, dumped a big bag of groceries on the floor of the delivery cart, and cruised home.

Today was day 2, our first morning school run. My kids usually need me to hassle them to get ready in the morning. Our routine is as follows: I ask and then ask more firmly and then really ask very firmly indeed and then shout and then on bad days screech and yell to get them to dress, brush their teeth, do their hair, apply sunscreen, get their hats, put on shoes and go out the door. After this ordeal, we burst out the door at 8.25am, and hustle and bustle down the busy road to get to school on time - only on a good day do we get out early and go the longer, quieter back way.

This morning, my big girls, aged 3 and 5, were standing at the front door, dressed, shod, teeth brushed, hair in ponytails, begging to leave at 7.14am. That's one hour and 19 minutes earlier than usual. The three year old cried when I said it would be more than an hour before we could go in the bicycle.

At 8.10, I took pity on my forlorn daughters again hovering near the front door. So we left to have a play at a local park on the way to school. When we got to the park, they ran around for two minutes then asked to go back in the bike. So off we went to school, nice and early.

It was hot, over 30 by the time we left the house, so I had the bike's sunshade set up. It looked like something out of the British Raj; the sunshade reminded me of a howdah. I said something to that effect out loud, and then had to explain the culture of the British Raj - nothing about oppression or exploitation, I'm afraid - to my five year old. A bit intense for 8.30am.

I was concerned that we'd have less opportunity to chat with each other or exchange greetings with other pedestrians because we were on a bike and not on foot. But because we rode the quiet way, we chatted all the way to school - we could hear each other perfectly well. And on this, our very first school ride, two cyclists - strangers - slowed and rode along with us, at different times, to ask about the bike. Both were very excited to see it - one of them had even been to Christiania, the town where the bike was made. When we arrived at school, a bunch of kids came over to check it out. And when I went to leave again, a group of parents wanted to ask about the seatbelts and the pivot system - the cart bit pivots, which makes cornering a breeze. So we had more conversation than ever.

We have two more days to trial it. But I'm sold already. It's cruisy, it's shady, it fits three kids and groceries, and we look cheerfully eccentric. What else could we want from a mode of transport?!

PS - Thanks for your comments. Brenda: Living locally sure costs more in the short term - like trying to buy local, or even Victorian, produce. It kills me that Victorian olive oil costs more than stuff from Italy! Mandy: I saw a photo of a family from Georgia with a Christiania bike, but I don't know where they got it. Here's a link to a conversation about the availability of cargo bikes in the US. Heather: Thanks for the Yuba tip - but I'm in love with this bike and will definitely go with it! And I loved the photo of your custom wheelchair bike. I saw too that Christiania also do a wheelchair bike; the floor of the cart inclines, you roll on, and as you roll the weight of the chair pushes the floor back up flat again!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Alison, thanks for letting me know about Christiania's wheelchair bike. I'm writing a piece about my bike for the NZ CFS support magazine including info about commercially available options, and that's one I wasn't aware of.


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