With the summer sun on the horizon and gas prices approaching all-time highs, it may be the perfect time to hop on a new travel trend. Three-wheeled cargo bikes, also know as the SUVs of the bike world, are catching on in Los Angeles.
For nearly 30 years, Christiania Bikes - the original family, cargo bikes - have roamed the streets of Copenhagen and along the way have helped the Danish capital earn its reputation as a leading green city and hotbed for happiness. Only recently have the bikes become available in the US. Their journey across the Atlantic is being spearheaded by Billy Kearins, an American ex-pat who fell in love with the idea after he moved to Copenhagen to start a family with his Danish wife.
Since then, his company, the aptly named, Boxcycles, has focused on promoting the idea in the U.S. and the results, so far, have been fantastic.
"More than anything, I wanted to try to translate the culture and benefits that surround these bikes to places in the U.S. that I knew wanted - and needed - them," says Kearins. "Americans value the same things - things like sustainability, healthy lifestyle, quality time with the kids, and even saving money.”
The Flying Pigeon Bike Shop in L.A. is one of the first in the country to take a chance on cargo bikes and the bet is paying off. Owner Josef Bray-Ali says sales are on the rise and he often finds customers coming to his store, not just from L.A., but also driving long distances for test rides and ultimately purchases. He believes recent trends in "going green" and "getting back to basics" are making these bikes the new, hip and trendy way to get around town, especially for young, active families.
Sustainability, health, and family-fun are are easy to see just by looking at the bikes, but, according to Kearins, the money-savings benefit has been a little harder to translate - especially when someone sees the price tag for the first time. The bikes, when set up to accommodate a family (certain models can easily handle four children) start at around $2500 - a large investment in today’s economy.
But he insists, they start to save you money almost right out of the gate, especially if the bike ends up replacing that ‘extra car’ that sits out in front of your house.
“Most families don’t really need two cars, especially when both parents are living and working in the city. So, by getting rid of the extra car and the payments, parking, insurance, maintenance, and especially the gas, you can start saving money within the first six months. Factor in the health, sustainability, and family-fun factors and the choice gets easier," says Kearins.
He and his family have been completely car-free for three years now. "The thing we actually enjoy most about the bike is how we become part of the city around us. Kristian, our three-year-old, loves riding up front, often with his mom. From that vantage point he can see everything. He sings songs, gets fresh air and learns that biking is fun and rewarding."
The money they would have spent on a car now goes to vacations and other things they would rather do than drive.
- For the chance to win a free Christiania Bike, simply follow them on Twitter (@boxcycles) and play along in their ’10 Tweets, 10 Weeks’ contest.
- And become a fan on facebook at: www.facebook.com/boxcycles