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How quickly attitudes can change

posted 16 Apr 2012, 13:29 by Jocke Selin
I started a manic build of the Carrygo cargo bike in June 2011. This build quickly had to take the backseat due to having to fund my existence, and the build of course. It took a while before I managed to get the bike, in its various stages as a prototype, into a riding state. I guess the bike has been rideable in a practical way since late September or so. I put the bike through quite a lot of test rides before the winter arrived and at that point the bike was more or less surpassed to the shed. The weather was not the only factor, but also a new job that demanded 100% attention.
We started pulling the bike out of the shed a bit more as the early spring arrived. However, as funds became available and the evenings got lighter I proceeded to finish the bike off. Only a few weeks ago I decided to pull the bike apart and prepare it for paint.
I guess we got a good, active, two to three months, of use out of the cargo bike before I dismantled it.

The before-life

My partner's knowledge about cargo bikes before the build was minimal. She knew they existed and that was about it. She knew they were used to carry loads, and that was about it. She knew they came in various guises and sizes.
However, the notion of taking a bicycle to the super market to do the weekly shop was pretty much totally alien. To her a bicycle is simply a fast road bike or an awesome dirty mountain bike (we're both partial to the latter).
I, on the other hand, grew up riding bikes; from being a small kid till the days when motors came into play, I rode everywhere in town. The bicycle was simply my lifeline and my way of getting around. Without it, I would have had to walk, and compared to walking the bicycle is a personal jet plane.
Unfortunately this didn't happen in the UK.
The bicycle was forgotten as a mode of transport. Cars simply had taken over. Both people's minds and the urban landscape. Not to mention the bank-balance.  In some senses, my partner is UK's missing cycling generation.

But things change

It's fair to say that the notion of cargo bikes have been in our lives for about 10 months. We have semi-actively used a cargo bike for 2 - 3 months, and as of typing, the cargo bike is not in a riding condition .
The other day it was time for a trip to the bottle-bank to return the empty bottles that had been gathering for a few weeks or so. In the back of my mind, I was annoyed that we couldn't just throw the bags into the cargo bike box and ride off to the bottle bank. We had to take the car, it felt like a terrible tedious chore. You know. Carry the bags all the way to the car, load the car up, squeeze into it, strap yourself into the seat. Then drive all the way, the indirect car-route, to the bottle bank in the car that costs money. However, I thought that these ideas were only my ideas. To my surprise my partner felt the same, maybe not as strongly, but she did say that she missed the cargo bike and that she would much rather have had a refreshing cycle ride to the bottle bank than taking the car.
I'm still very surprised and I'm also very proud of her.

More change, please

It's amazing how little time was needed to bring this total shift in thinking in the both of us. Imagine if we had been using the cargo bike to its full potential. Every day, commuting, shopping, etc.  Imagine what impact that would have done to our lives. I, for sure, could do with the extra outdoors and fitness.
But we are just two persons. Imagine if more and more and more people would discover this. Imagine if cargo biking and utility biking grew. We'd get rid of more cars off the road. We'd get more space for cycling. We could scrap the huge tarmac fields called parking lots, we could use them for other things, nicer things; Bigger family houses that are closer to town, parks, cycle routes, small local shops, and so forth.
All that "Save the planet"-stuff is a big bonus, but think how nice and quiet it would be in town if the majority of the cars disappeared. Being able to sit outside a café with a friend having a cup of coffee and being able to hear each other talk, without choking on fumes and dust. Imagine being able to say hi to the friend that cycles past instead of causing a traffic accident if you wave at them.
One can dream, can't one..?!