Echuca family gets around town on cargo bike for World Cycling Day

By Anna McGuinness

COVID-19 has seen people get back onto their bikes – and they’re loving it.

World Cycling Day is riding the bicycle high and is planning to keep all those wheels turning.

Sales figures at Echuca bike shops have been going off the charts since the lock-down began, and with today being World Cycling Day everyone is being urged to get out their bikes – old and new – and join the celebration.

And if you want to know how you can make cycling a full-blown family affair, check out the cargo bike that has been seen all around the twin towns recently.

The what?

The cargo bike.

But in the case of Simone Smith, her cargo is her three kids – five-year-old Malachi, three-year-old Leilani and one-year-old Phoebe.

They all fit in the ‘cargo hold’ of this quantum leap in family cycling (and, no surprise, it is a phenomenon coming out of the Netherlands, where they know a thing or two about bikes).

The Dutch design has a big tub in between the rider and the front wheel, with many variations (and the option for an electric powered version – but that’s really motorcycling, isn’t it?).

Simone and her husband Nathanial had always enjoyed getting around on bikes in their pre-children days; but while their older children are now riders in their own right, long-distance and going through town is way beyond their capabilities.

Leilani and Malachi enjoying puddles next to their cargo bike. Photo: Cath Grey

So they began looking for ways to take their family along wherever they went.

“It’s been fantastic, it took a bit to get used to but with the COVID-19 lock-down my husband was home more so we had a family bike ride every day,” Simone said.

“Malachi and Leilani can ride without training wheels, but they can’t quite keep up on long rides so we were excited when we found something we can all do together and make really good memories.”

Simone said she noticed how the lock-down had also changed how people interacted with each other.

“It’s amazing how many people smile when we ride past and people comment on what a great idea it is.

“Everyone’s been happy to talk and connect, whereas before the pandemic everyone was busy and we didn’t have the time,” she said.

Simone and her children Malachi, Leilani and Phoebe with their cargo bike. Photo: Cath Grey

“It was so valuable because we were able to get out into the fresh air and it's been great for my mental wellbeing.”

For Simone the cargo bike has become almost like a second car, and while much cheaper than a vehicle, you can expect to pay much more than your average bike – Simone’s model didn’t leave much change out of $4000.

“But I can go anywhere in town with the three kids and during lock-down when we weren’t allowed to go for a drive having the bike was great.

“It’s one of the best buys for us, definitely money well spent.”

Living in the east of town, Simone said bike paths were limited and she did not feel as safe riding with the kids there.

“I feel more comfortable riding on the other side of town, there's a great shared path on Warren St which was a fantastic find for us because we can be safe off the road.”

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