The Babboe Big electric bike is a 3 wheeled cargo box bicycle (known as a bakfiets in the Netherlands). We are based in Dublin, Ireland & have used our cargo bike since December 2016. After giving it a good testing on school runs, shopping & leisure trips etc. it is time to give an updated review of how we are doing. more “2018 Review of the Babboe Big E Cargo Bike”
It is that time of the year again & Christmas is coming! Myself and the little man had some spare time today so we decided to head up to Laura Lynn to buy our Christmas tree. This year is different as we are challenging ourselves to bring the tree home using the cargo bike. more “Bringing home a Christmas tree…by cargo bike!”
As a regular commuter cyclist in the Dublin region for almost 20 years with no incidents to report about, I would like to think that I have a good safe record in terms of cycling. However your perspectives & priorities do change when you are cycling a cargo bicycle with children. You’re top concern is not just your safety on the road but those who you are transporting around, in my case it is 3 young kiddies. more “Is it safe to cycle a cargo bike?”
After gaining three months experience using our Babboe Big cargo bike around our locality, one thing that I have found useful is planning our journeys, even short journeys. Unlike using my standard bicycle, cycling a three wheeled cargo bike is quite different in terms of handling. This is particularly important when dealing with the rather variable road Irish conditions which range from decent to fairly poor when you are a cyclist pushed over to the side of the road. Also in mind is the fact that with the cargo bike, I am cycling with two to three young children so I want to make sure that whatever route I take, it is the safest possible route & that they are not too spooked by the journey. For example, if my destination involves taking narrow roads, chances are if they are busy routes with buses & trucks along with lots of cars impatiently trying to overtake us, then I would try to avoid such a route. This might mean taking a longer indirect route but in the end the cycle is more pleasurable for the passengers & for the cyclist as well. Even though I consider myself an experienced commuter cyclist, with the cargo bike I want to make sure that I am not overly stressed about the traffic & that I can concentrate on cycling in as relaxed & observant form as possible.
One thing I have really enjoyed so far with using the cargo bike in the past few days is that I can now look at & talk to my kids while riding the bicycle. It is not that we do not talk while I am driving the car, but obviously when driving the kids are naturally behind the driver & front passenger. I am sure many parents will have been asked “I want to show you something, look at me!” & of course when you are driving, the best you can do is give a cursory glance in the mirror. A similar challenge exists when I have cycled with my daughter on the back of my own bicycle – I can barely hear what she says as there is so much traffic noise around us & I need to turn around quickly to see what she is saying & I feel bad sometimes because I cannot engage as much say when we are walking alongside each other.
I can now engage with the kids while cycling
With the Babboe Big cargo bike we bought, all the kids are in front of me. Apart from the aspect of being able to see them & potentially break up the odd argument or two with relative ease (if that is possible!), I am actually able to talk to the kids while cycling. So much so, they are engaging in conversations that we do not have in the car. We have no distractions such as a radio or CD playing music. It is just myself & the kids chatting or I get to listen in on their conversations. Right now they are enjoying the novelty of being transported around on a cargo bike so I hear them chatting, laughing & enjoying the view. Even with the rain tent cover used, Babboe have a little open window slot on the rear so I can hear them talk & vice versa.
Copenhagen is a world leading city when it comes to encouraging cycling as an everyday transportation mode. Copenhageners want to cycle & the city of Copenhagen wants it’s citizens to cycle more.
How are cargo bikes used in Copenhagen?
Whether its to transport kids, enjoy a day out with the family or run a business, cargo bikes are being used in Copenhagen for all sorts of reasons. Below is a short video showing some uses of cargo bikes:
There are over 40,000 cargo bikes in Copenhagen!
According to Copenhagenize, there are over 40,000 cargo bikes in Copenhagen. That accounts for approximately 6% of all bicycles in Copenhagen. The breakdown of what types of cargo bikes are being used & by whom is also very interesting:
How can cargo bikes help Ireland?
Just like in ambitious cycling friendly cities such as Copenhagen, the cargo bicycle can help Ireland in many ways including:
- Lower School related traffic congestion: Transporting children to/from places such as school. A cargo bike has the capacity to carry as many children as an average car, except take up a fraction of the space
- Lower overall congestion: As with any form of cycling, by having more families use a cargo bike as transport mode over choosing a car, then it means less traffic on our roads.
- Reduced road maintenance: A cargo bike is the fraction of the size & weight of a typical family car. By taking more cars off the road, it reduces the wear & tear on our road infrastructure which in turn reduces the amount of money required to maintain our infrastructure.
- Zero emissions: A cargo bike does not pollute our environment. It would help Ireland cut its increasing transport related emissions which we are legally bound to cut as part of an EU agreement but are failing to do.
- Healthier lifestyle: Cycling is proven by many national & international reports to help improve an individual’s health which in turn has a massive impact on our public health budgets. A cyclist pushing around heavier cargo, is doing even more exercise!
The catch 22 is as always in Ireland is trying to put in place long term thinking & investment in our infrastructure. Our existing road infrastructure is not well maintained for road users including cyclists. Many of our local authority or national government policy makers need to give proper consideration to cycling as a short & long term solution to Ireland’s growing traffic congestion & cargo bikes have a significant part to play. Some safe space would be a good start.
Today is when it all starts. We picked up our new Babboe Big cargo bicycle from the Dutch Bicycle Shop in Goatstown, Dublin.
About the Babboe Big cargo bicycle
You can find details on the Babboe Big bicycle at Babboe’s web site & the Dutch Bicycle Shop. The Babboe Big is a brand from the Netherlands which specialises in manifacturing cargo bikes. We opted for the larger 3 wheel electric version as we have 3 young kids so we wanted to make sure they had a bit of space. Just a quick overview of our model is as follows:
- Can carry 4 passengers + cyclist
- Cargo box contains two benches to seat two children each side facing each other
- Has 3 wheels, two at the front for stability
- Has an electric battery to assist with cycling e.g. up hills
- Load capacity is up to 100kg
- Cargo box area is made of birch wood
- Comes with two front LED lights & a rear light
We added some cushions to make it more comfortable for the kids to sit on the benches. We also purchased what Babboe calls a rain tent but we think it is great for shielding against the elements especially during winter. I installed the rain tent cover myself which just took a few minutes to do once the box was opened.
Now that we have the bike, it is time to put it too some use!