“Biking the Bike” on Our E-cargo Bikes

henry dunbar active transportation arlington county
Henry Dunbar Tweet Us @BikeArlington@BikeArlington June 22, 2022

Henry Dunbar is the Director of Operations for Active Transportation. He is a year-round bike commuter and wants to make it easy for everyone to get around by whatever mode they choose, except driving alone which should be harder.

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E-cargo bikes can go a long way toward replacing our need for cars.

In promoting the use of bikes as everyday transportation, one of the most common concerns we hear is that bikes simply will not work for daily tasks – particularly when we have to bring anything more than just ourselves. While there are myriad solutions for basic trips such as backpacks, baskets, racks, and panniers, what about the bigger jobs? Like school pick up and drop off, or major grocery runs, or overnight trips? As a program that regularly travels to many events with a lot of “stuff” in tow, we have learned to manage under many scenarios. The BikeArlington team e recently learned we can do a lot more than we thought.

Six Events in Six Days…Zero Cars

Our team committed to either hosting or appearing at six events in a six-day span: three outreach events, a youth bike rodeo, an adult learn-to-ride class, and a trail cleanup. For most, we would need our full outreach setup of a 10’x10’ shade canopy, table, marketing materials, displays, garbage pickers, and traffic cones. We also needed the flexibility to do many handoffs of materials we’d use at multiple events.

Rising to the Challenge

We worked out that we could manage it all with our two Larry v Harry Bullit cargo bikes, each with electric assist, plus some side trips with an e-bike and trailer. Our e-cargo bikes have a large front end with a wooden box approximately 2’x4’x2’ which fits a large plastic bin, a person, and so much more. Using our two bikes for these big hauls would involve lots of bungee cords and strategic packing, but we knew it could be done!

We did get one curveball thrown at us: Two days before the trail cleanup event, we received word that material we needed for our Saturday event would have to be picked up in Vienna an hour before the event start, 11 miles from our Rosslyn office. For a moment we worried that someone would need to drive out to get the pickers. But then we remembered that the “E” part of our bikes would make the 10-mile trip on the W&OD Trail possible in just 45-minutes each way (observing the trail speed limit of 15 mph). And with that, we dispensed with the thought of using a car.

See What You Can Carry

Most local bike shops now carry many e-bike styles, with a wide variety of racks, baskets, and buckets. Some are front-loaded like ours; others have the long-tail frame; and still others are normal size but with heavy-duty racks in front AND back. Many shops have loaners that you can keep overnight and try in many settings. The key to any big challenge is to experiment and practice.

E-cargo bikes are becoming increasingly popular. Try one and see what car trips these bikes can help you eliminate.

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