“You have a BIG BIKE” is one of the comments I hear a lot from people. My Dutch Bike does indeed stick out from your run of the mill road/mountain or hybrid bike you normally see over here. In comparision, it is a bit on the big and heavy side. Obviously for a reason. It is a utility bike. Used for cycling around children and shopping.
I have had my bike now for a fair few months and unfortunately she is not BIG enough for the things I carry around. Most days I only have Henry to cycle about, but on weekends my daughter Elizabeth is also part of our family. Doing a big shop, in several stores, has also been a bit of a headache recently. How on earth would I find an affordable solution to that problem?
Cue: The Bike Trailer! I must admit, I am not a huge fan of the bike trailer. It hangs behind your bike, so you can’t actually see your child causing mischief. It is very low to the ground, so would car drivers actually see the thing you drag behind you? It is also made quite flimsily, with a bit of aluminium and fabric. All in all I still massively prefer an actual cargo bike with a box in the front, but as finances don’t allow it at the present, the bike trailer will have to do.
I found an affordable “one kid” trailer at Halford’s and decided to pay them a visit. The gentleman serving me had a “wtf” kind of moment when I asked about the trailers. “We have never actually sold one of those before to be honest, I don’t know whether it fits on a Dutch bike”. After a bit of to and fro and a break at pizza hut later (yes, they were installing it with two people), we were the proud owners of a Big Bike Addition. Before setting off home, I decided to first have a cycle around Tottenham Hale. To make sure I knew how to turn this thing around and how wide we were now going to be. If people sold me The Look before, they were now throwing looks to kill. Yes! A Bike! WITH A TRAILER. TO PUT ACTUAL STUFF IN. AND CHILDREN, TWO OF THEM, AS A MATTER OF FACT. We collected Elizabeth and went on our way home.
Cycling with a trailer is not much different from cycling a regular bike. You just have to be aware you are slightly wider (the one child trailer is actually not that wide at all) and obviously, slightly longer. Navigating the Tottenham cycle paths cycle gates are a bit trickier, but we fit. Which is the main thing. Admittedly, if I have one of my children in the trailer, we cycle on the pavement. I don’t trust drivers here to slow down, while overtaking us. And perhaps not seeing there is a trailer behind me. But, we have to start somewhere. The good people of Tottenham don’t know the endless bike possibilities. They complain endlessly about being stuck in traffic, when they could find a cheap solution. And I find you can only teach them, by providing the example.
To put this theory to test, we did a nice little outing today. I had a meeting at the Lordship Recreation Ground Hub and I didn’t feel walking was going to be feasible. A tiny bit too far from were we live, with two kids in tow. We fired up the bike and got there in no time. Something remarkable on our way happened too. Pedestrians were happy for us to share the pavement (mostly I encounter grumpy people even though I am extra careful) and even a driver stopped for us when we wanted to cross the road. I have seen this behaviour with the cargo bike before and now it happened again. Psychology of human nature: “be careful around the thing we don’t understand”? I don’t know, but it pleasantly surprised me. Some people stopped me to ask some questions, which was positive too. We arrived at the hub, where I took some pictures in the end.
The Bike Bike Addition…nothing is stopping this North London Mum from getting the cycling gospel out there. This is just another chapter to the story!