The Seattle Cargo Bike Landscape and Spotted in the Wild: A Nihola Trike
Throughout this Summer, the number and variety of family bikes parked at the Cal Anderson playground racks has increased in a very encouraging way. It seems like cargo biking is catching on all around the biking city.
A Look at the Seattle Cargo Bike Scene, from where I sit.
I know that I am in a bubble. I am surrounded by cargo bikes at work, I blog about them in the evening and I twitter about them in my sleep. Still, I try to limit these Spotted in the Wild posts to bikes that I encounter in real-world settings and I do find myself spotting more and more Pedal Families and their sweet rides out there in the wild!
Child-free bike enthusiasts seem keen on cycle trucks, particularly the local conversion jobbies from Cyclefab (does anybody ride the Soma Tradesman or Civia Halsted? I’d love to get a review.) Most new Pedal Parents and Kids I meet are going for the iBert (a stem-mounted kid seat available at big box stores? That’s the 21st century for ya!) or similar front seats for single infants to tots. The next stage for most of the parents that I meet are Surly Big Dummies (from Ride Bicycles) or Yuba Mundoes (from Alki Bike and Board) when their kids get bigger or more numerous. Also, some families like Madsens. I have no idea what comes next for Pedal Families.
I suspect that bike styles diverge sharply based on each family’s transportation needs. This is born out by the fact that each of my personal roll-model Seattle Pedal Families with kids older than my own, Totcycle, Car-Free Days, and Morgan, seem to have taken very different approaches as their kids got older, more independent and heavier. The question that I keep asking myself is this, will there develop a common practice among the current crop of Pedal Parents of Pedal Tots as our families grow up? How will the increasing shift toward bikes among the mainstream and increasing number of non-driving adults affect this? How will the bike market take advantage of, shape and be shaped by these trends? Will Little Oil and I ever be able to afford to ride all the bikes we want to ride?
What do you see happening in (fun) utility, (sweet) transportation, (hardcore) cargo and (awesome) family biking in Seattle? In your town? Comment below!
Oh Yeah! Spotted in the Wild: A Nihola Trike
Marjory and Beatrice
Little was on the swings when they pulled up. She started squeeling,
Papa, box bike.
Take a picture for the blog!
So off we leapt, mid-swing and booked it to the bike rack to do just that and to meet the riders.
This lovely box trike comes to Seattle from Denmark, via Palo Alto. Its Nice Family was kind enough to let Little Oil and I poke around and take some pictures. Mom, Marjory told us that they’d moved to Seattle from Palo Alto, where they used their Nihola Family more than they do here. The thing weighs in at 70 lbs (light for such a bike) and Palo Alto is pretty flat. Riding wasn’t always easy, the culture among drivers and the state of the roads was such that not every trip was fun. Nonetheless, this family was tough and brave and cool and happy to be car-free in that town. It helped to have such a sweet and comfortable ride! The flexibility of a box bike is such that the family was able to start riding together when their oldest was just three months old (color me jealous and impressed)!
They still ride the trike regularly, but limit most trips to within the Central District/ Capitol Hill neighborhoods. Marjory and Beatrice both seem to love the ride. Theo and Dad were unavailable for comment.
There is easily room for two big kids in the box, plus luggage.
Little was super impressed by the box’s sturdy construction, the hinged door panel in front for easy passenger load and unload…
and the very well made rain canopy!
I dig the lowish step-over but sturdy-looking frame design and the elegant look to the chain guard and triple rear stays. This bike looks very well made!
Charming trike, Nice People! Keep it classy!
Your take on family bikes changing as kids get older is spot on. My children have loved our WIKE trailer up until last week. Literally. Now my 5yo daughter has decided she wants out. So our “what’s next” quest has taken on new imparative. Realizing there won’t be a long-term solution but a solution of stages is helping me not feel oberwhelmed with making such an intimate (?) choice. Our bikes are such an extension of our daily life it feels like the decision is very personal indeed.
Love the pics! Happy biking
That is the first time I’ve seen one of those trikes close up. I love it! It kind of reminds me of a classy old-tyme carriage ride for some reason. I love the little hinged door and the rain cover. I get a pang when I see bikes like this because I know that they’re made for another terrain and will never be in my stable. :/
As far as the future of bikes, Totcycle postulates that after the Big Dummy comes the tandem phase of family biking. And after that is when kids reliably ride on their own (more at http://totcycle.com/blog/family-biking-ages-stages.html).
What annoys me about living here is the total lack of bikes designed and built from the ground up to accomodate family riders. There are so few choices in that way–even the Dummy is a mod! It’s a cargo bike that can be adapted to carry kids, but it’s not meant to do it, not really (and that becomes obvious when I’m walking the bike with kids on and it wants to tip because the weight is carried high up with the kid seat and flight deck whereas the Dummy wants to carry its weight lower, down by the wheel).
There are mamacharis in Japan, and they’re disposable! Biking is such a Thing there (you know, NBD) that bikes are designed cheaply to carry multiple kids. And there’s a built-in motor! That’s the kind of bike that needs to be available and affordable here. I hate that family biking is inaccessible for so many and the tools to make it happen are so expensive (not everyone can afford a BD or similar) or elusive (unless you roll with a certain crowd, you might think the only options are trailers and seats, for example).
OK, I feel a blog post coming on.
Thanks for sharing this post! I like seeing what bikes live in other neighborhoods.
I would love to red that post!
The issues of accessibility, costwise and culturewise, you bring up are real. and more! What are the barriers to family cycling? How can we advocates and enthusiasts help to bring them down?
As the pedaling parent of both a pedaling post-tot and a pedaling tot, we’ve made the move to a trail-a-bike pulling a trailer. The REAL sticky wicket (as Car-Free Families noted) is making the transition from attached bike to unattached bike. Even here in Portland, it is very nerve-racking to take your school-ager out anywhere on the road without direct control over their movements. Separated infrastructure is the only way to easily make that jump, but rebuilding the city will take time).