Joyfully riding a cargobike in London

Christiania - Sylvia's daughter w pumpkins

Adapted from an article that Sylvia Gauthereau wrote for London Cyclist

When I had my second child and time for school was looming, I had to think of logistics, especially since like many other families we were not offered a place in our local school. I did consider a car but it would not have fully met my commuting needs which combined going from home to nursery, school then work in central London and back in time. Public transport would have meant spending four hours daily in buses and tube. I researched alternative ways after meeting one family who had a short two-wheeler Bakfiets. They introduced me to the amazing world of a bike with a purpose. A cargo bike was the only solution which appeared suitable to me and my family’s needs.

We tried various models and settled for a Christiania tricycle. My children by that time were 4 and 1 so the Light model was perfect. They instantly liked it. The fact that there was a dedicated space just for them, a hood that would shelter them from the elements or alternatively becoming their little ‘house’. The fact I was so close to them and that we could keep chatting as we rode along was very appealing to us all. I felt reassured by the presence of belts, similar to those found on pushchairs. The Christiania has been around for over 30 years and is widely used for the specific purpose of carrying children in Denmark. As soon as we started riding it, it felt very natural and fitted perfectly to our life.

The school run was as rushed as usual but as soon as you hit the road, the feeling of freedom of movement and the self-reliance was unbelievable. Beyond the school run, we could go to the park as normal, without the hassle of a packed bus; go for a picnic, without having to carry a large basket, rug and all the other stuff that parents are plagued with when they go anywhere with kids. Do the weekly grocery shopping run was a breeze without heavy bags cutting through my arms, or the stress of it all when you have little ones in tow. Going anywhere within reasonable distance, was possible. Nor more waiting for a bus, no more wasting time in a traffic jams on a packed bus. Even getting lost wasn’t as daunting, it became an adventure. I so wished I had one before when my children were even younger.

Christiania - Sylvia in the snow

I just love riding with my kids so close in the box, whilst they are chatting, singing or playing. We sometimes catch a laugh from people around us, get an earful of the music they are listening in their car or a smell of what they are having for dinner; we stop whenever we see something interesting to investigate. Riding a bicycle is a very organic and sensorial experience but at the same time it is very simple really. It brings back these feeling of riding like a kid, make me and my children happy. This bike has changed my life and my family’s life. It is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life and I would encourage anyone to try.

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