With a new year comes a new routine! Our youngest child has just started in the local crèche so that means a new drop off point in the morning times. Thankfully it is all local where we are living at the moment, so my daily school drop off which was the guts of 3km to/from the house now has another 2km added to the journey. The cargo bike is perfect for this, we avoid some of the traffic build up in the area en route & we get parking right at the door of the crèche as we do with the school. more “New cargo bike routine – another few kilometres of cycling!”
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!”
Yesterday we had a sick nipper & we had to take a quick trip to our local doctor for a check up. The cargo bike was our little “ambulance” to get us there quickly. Thankfully nothing too serious with our patient, she just needs a little rest & relaxation.
Yet again another local trip taken care of by the 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.
Today school started back for our eldest daughter so I kicked off the day by taking the cargo bike with 3 children to the school to drop our daughter off. I will deal with a school run in a separate post. Needless to say, there are lots of cars involved! I then headed with my two remaining helpers to do some grocery shopping in Dunnes Stores.
Just before Christmas, I needed to pick up some last minute items in the shops so it was a perfect test for the cargo bike to see what I could bring along & get used to in terms of handling the children & doing some shopping.
- Destination: Blackrock, Co. Dublin
- Trip Distance: 5km round trip
- Trip Time: 20 minutes
- Average Speed: 16 km/h
- Number of Passengers: 2 children + cyclist
Blackrock, is a village on the south side of Dublin city. There is quite a bit going on commercially in the village centre itself with a wide array of businesses including two sizeable shopping centres also.
Kudos needs to go to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown (DLR) County Council from a cyclist’s perspective when it comes to Blackrock. We are coming from the Deansgrange area & as you approach the Blackrock village area, the Frascati Road turns from a single carriageway to a very busy dual carriageway. In the past year or so, DLR County Council upgraded the Frascati Road dual carriageway with decent enough cycle lanes which were badly needed as this road is very busy at the best of times. The end result is that the lanes are of good surface quality & wide enough for a cargo bike.
Another bonus in relation to Blackrock village itself is that there are plenty of places to lock your bicycle throughout the village. There is a large enough bicycle parking area which has room for larger bicycles such as our cargo bike:
The Shopping Trip
With me on this shopping trip were two of the kids. The youngest is 1 & is not walking yet so I brought along his buggy which is quite compact. As you will see from the photographs below, with the Babboe Big we can easily fold away the front seat so that we can add bulky items in beside the passengers. Thankfully it was not too squashed for the little ones when they were sitting beside the the buggy & shopping.
This particular trip was great to test what it was like to take the children out on the bicycle as well as taking along the buggy. The journey was relatively short but it was a relief that the dual carriageway beside Blackrock village had decent enough cycle lanes. While not perfect in terms of infrastructure, it felt safe enough to navigate. It is a bit tricky if you want to turn right into Blackrock village so I used the aid of the pedestrian lights at the Frascati Shopping Centre to get over to the right turning lane across 2 lanes of traffic. The cargo bike is not really great for darting across two lanes of traffic so unless the traffic is light, then I air on the side of caution when it comes to the cargo bike with children on board.
Today we took our new cargo bike out for its first test run to Dun Laoghaire. We are based in Deansgrange so the journey is not too taxing nor too long.
- Destination: Dun Laoghaire
- Trip Distance: 14km round trip
- Trip Time: 55 minutes
- Average Speed: 15km/h
- Number of Passengers: 3 children + cyclist
Dun Laoghaire is a nice seaside town on the south side of Dublin city. There is typically a market there on Sundays with various stalls selling goods & food. There is also a nice playground which we take the kids to on a regular basis & plenty of green space for them to run around if they want. We went there today for a quick visit, more to test the bicycle out than anything else but we also enjoyed a little picnic. We cycled down to the park & simply wheeled the bicycles to a park bench for a sit down.
There is a short shared cycle/walk path running alongside the train line. We decided to have a look at where it goes. To be honest it is more useful for the locals to get around, there was not much to see, but at least we know now thanks to having the bicycles with us!
The impact of road quality or rather bad road quality is one learning of the day. I had the opportunity to test the Babboe bike out a few weeks ago as a ‘test drive’. During that time I gained a feeling for how the bike handles but today I could test it on a longer journey. Irish roads & where they exist cycle lanes, in my opinion verge from average to absolutely appalling in terms of design & maintenance. On that basis you need to be mindful of surface quality. While the bicycle is quite stable especially with the two wheels at the front, it can become unstable in terms of control if you hit a pothole or surface defect of that nature.
Another item to consider is planning your journey. Unfortunately there aren’t that many cycle lanes or space for bicycles to cycling alongside cars in/out or in the environs of Dun Laoghaire. With this bicycle as it is wider than my hybrid bicycle, it is not always possible to cycle alongside cars. With that in mind, I planned my journey in as much as I could where there are roads with some cycle lane coverage & as wide/straight as possible to allow motorists to pass by where possible.
Bicycle feature test: Electric Battery
I also got to test the electric battery on the bicycle. This is the first e-bike I have ever tried & I am impressed. It is not to move the bicycle for you, rather help you along your way up hills etc. It has a few different level settings which I tried. I am glad we went for this model, as the kids get bigger & heavier combined with me getting a bit older, the battery assistance will come in use, especially since Deansgrange is at the bottom of some steep hills!
The day went well & the kids had a great time being transported around!