Precious cargo: Workhorse bikes carry kids, groceries on human-powered outings, errands
Cargo bikes make it possible to carry large loads and even for several people to ride together. As bike lanes and bike-friendly pathways multiply in Memphis, these workhorse bikes are increasingly getting a workout.
Kyle Wagenschutz, the bikeway/pedestrian coordinator for the city of Memphis, and his wife share one car, and they have an 8-month-old son.
Typically, Wagenschutz travels by bike, and his wife uses the car to commute to work. Now that they have a baby, Wagenschutz needs a way to move him around when his wife is at work. “But not only do I need to move him, but also all his stuff (diaper bag, etc.) and anything I need to get while running errands (groceries, etc.). Carrying capacity is becoming a real issue, and a trailer really isn’t sufficient to move everything I need to,” he explains.
A friend in Washington was selling a Bakfeits, a Dutch cargo bike used to move children and goods, and Wagenschutz jumped at the chance to buy it. “My friend used it until his son started riding on his own and had nothing but rave reviews about it,” he says.
The bike is at Wagenschutz’s parent’s house in Virginia, and they plan to deliver it on their next visit to Memphis. “I’m looking forward to getting it out, running errands or going to the park without the need to hassle with trailers or bags,” he says.
Wagenschutz says anyone can ride a cargo bike. He has seen two- and three-wheel models. “They are longer than a standard bike, so turns are wider, more like a car. It takes some getting used to, but it’s pretty easy to pick up,” he says. “I’ve noticed a lot of new cargo bikes hauling kids around
lately in Memphis. It’s definitely something I see growing locally and nationally.”
Christopher Shatley, 43, a registered nurse who works in the ICU at Baptist Memorial Hospital, may be one of those people Wagenschutz has noticed around town. Shatley works three 12-hour shifts, so he has four days off a week to spend with his 4-year-old twins — a boy and a girl. Shatley lives in the Evergreen Historic District and likes to ride his bike on the days when he is not working.
Last October, he saw a cargo bike, which he had never seen before, at Midtown Bike Co.
“It was kind of pricey, but I was looking for a way to take the twins around,” Shatley says. “They hated the bike trailer I had been using.”
He purchased a Yuba with two child seats and an added cargo bag for $1,700. He looked at the cost as an investment, since Memphis is gradually becoming more bike-friendly.