Thursday, August 7, 2008

Christiania bike



Trying to get around town with three little children in tow has sometimes been a bit of a challenge. I have been avoiding taking the car - quite apart from the environmental and financial cost of driving, getting three young kids into the car, strapping them all into their seats, then doing the same in reverse in front of the shop or the library is more time consuming than it is worth. So we ended up staying at home much more than I really wanted to.

We now have the solution - a Christiania bike! Technically speaking, this is not a bike but a trike, and it is fantastic. The box in the front can take up to 100kg of cargo. I have a little fold-up bench in it for the two younger boys. The seat comes with a seat belt and a three point harness for my youngest. My older boy sits on a cosy blanket in the front. The three shiny metal frames on the side can be plugged in to make a frame for a roof. I have made a rain cover from various materials I already had at home and we have been travelling around the village every day this week. It is so much fun!

We get to places quickly, the kids love it, there is enough space in the box to add some shopping or library books (today we got bare rooted grape vines which we later planted on the pergola!), and I got used to riding the bike quite quickly. It felt a bit different to a normal bike at the beginning, and I also realised I wasn't quite as fit as I thought I was :-) - but just a few days of riding the bike around is already having an impact both on my fitness level and my confidence.

This really is a wonderful way of getting around - and I hope that at least some of the people who stare at us when we zoom past might think this is a good idea and something to copy!

Funnily enough, just when we got back from our first outing, I heard on the radio that Australia Post is considering changing their delivery fleet from motorbikes to cargo bikes and trikes, so maybe we will soon be just one of many rather than a slightly odd curiosity.

The Christiania bike comes from Denmark. The other great cycling nation, Holland, also has a range of cargo bikes and trikes, known as "baksfiet". The sole Australian importer of Christiania bikes is psbikes.

I am particularly impressed with the quality of the bike - every bit is beautifully made to last. No cheap plastic bits that will fall off in a couple of months. Proper pedals made from metal. The steering works incredibly well, and it is not difficult to ride at all - despite the weight in the front!

Apparently, there are more than 20,000 such bikes in use in Copenhagen. I have read about trikes with longer boxes for child care centres and pre-schools which fit six or more kids. Christiania also offers bikes with a little ramp to put a wheelchair into the box. Then there are some with straight boxes with lids, useful for delivery businesses such as catering etc.

The psbikes website also has some great photos, worth having a look.

8 comments:

  1. I love this post, what a great idea. I can see myself with one of these, perhaps not with chidlren in, they are getting a bit big now, although I think they would actually love it. I am glad that it has given you some more freedom and excercise - can't see a down side at all...:-)
    Love Jxx

    ReplyDelete
  2. Cheeky Transport in Newtown Sydney also get these in and will set them up for you if you need one. This bike store is set up for people who use bikes for transport. http://cheekytransport.com.au/

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a great idea Chervil. I hope it is not too hilly where you live.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Fantastic. It is a bit hilly here. My kids would love it all the same. Just need some kind of solar hybrid to take the pain of the hills.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a brill "contraption" but have you thought about simply tying the kids to the bike and letting them run behind. You may get a few skint knees though. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. what a fantastic bike and so good for all of you

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'd really enjoy knowing how your bike is going now. We were lucky enough to borrow one for a weekend and with some saving (and some more) we might get to own one yet.

    It's a great bike - hope you're still enjoying it!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Kirsty

    thanks for the comment! We still use the bike as I try to leave the car at home when we go somewhere local. Boy no 1 no longer rides in it - he uses his own bike. Boy no2 sometimes still rides in it. Boy no3 always uses it. It is great for transporting stuff, too - you can even stash a bale of straw in the box, or cart the kids' gear around it. The other day I had Boy no 3 plus skateboard, scooter and a small bicycle in it, no problem! As long as you have access to safe cycling paths, I can definitely recommend it.

    ReplyDelete