Cargo bike saves Matthew money and the planet in the long run
When Matthew, 34, found himself in need of a second family vehicle for local journeys, he decided to take the cheaper option and bought a cargo bike to do the school run and go to the supermarket, leaving the car for his wife to commute to work. Going green has never been so much fun!
What prompted you to get a cargo bike instead of a car?
Before lockdown, I was based in Darlington from where I did home visits across the Tees Valley. At that time, the journey to school and nursery was done by a variety of people – me, my wife, grandparents, all using a variety of ways. It was complicated!
When I started working from home, I found that all my daily errands are short ones and I didn't want to drive a mile for bread, adding traffic and pollution to the very area I wanted to be less polluted and congested. Working 9-to-5, both a car and a bike spend the majority of their time 'parked'.
We did look at getting a second car, but even an old banger would have cost a few hundred pounds and there would be additional costs for tax, MOT, fuel, servicing and maintenance which would all add up.
I’d read about cargo bikes online, which is essentially a large bucket on the front of a bike, and when I started doing the maths, it just all made sense. It’s more expensive to buy than a normal bike but once you start thinking of it as another car, it’s a no-brainer really.
I’ve always enjoyed cycling as a hobby but this was a way to bring it into our everyday lives as a family.
How much do you think you’ve saved, since March this year?
I've probably saved £50-60 in fuel, plus £200 on insurance, although over the lifetime of the bike I will spend considerably less than on a car.
It's less about what I've saved more about what I've gained. I'm able to bypass the congestion around the school so I'm able to do the school run faster even than in my car.
My daughter and I have a great time on the bike, we spent the summer popping out to the green spaces around Stockton and along the riverbank and rather than struggle to find a parking space, we just rode there and parked up. If we saw somebody we knew on the way we could just stop and have a chat; when you're travelling at a slower pace you can interact with people, play games or even spot the wildlife, it's a much more interactive way of getting around.
When do you use the cargo bike?
I mainly use it for doing the school run. We live about two-thirds of a mile from school, which takes about 20 minutes to walk with a five-year-old and 18-month old in tow. In the cargo bike, the journey is reduced to just 5 or 6 minutes, which is a real time-saver. I also use it to go to the supermarket to do the family shopping.
My youngest is taken to nursery by my wife on the way to work, but I pick him up using a pram or by placing the baby carrier portion into the cargo bike bucket.
I admit it can get pretty heavy when it’s loaded up but if you’re only going a mile or two, it’s no problem.
How does it feel to ride it?
It’s like a minibus! You have to think about turning the corner way before you get there, but like anything new, once you’re used to it, it’s fine, just like learning to control any new vehicle. I feel safe and most importantly the children are safe because they’re strapped in and protected from traffic on the road.
What would you say to anyone thinking about their driving habits?
Just think about how much you could save if you swapped the car for a bike. It just makes complete sense to me. And the environmental and health benefits are huge, which is what we all need at the moment.