ridemoredriveless

Want to Change Your Commuting Habits? What about a Cargo Bike?

Trying to figure out how to leave your car in the garage more often and spend less time behind the wheel? The answer might just be a cargo bike.

 Cargo bikes have been around since the early 20th century and were originally used by tradesmen to deliver goods before the invention of the automobile. Nowadays, they are extremely popular in Europe and Asia and are used for both recreational and business purposes:  taking kids to school, transporting groceries, family bike rides, and for delivering mail and packages.

 Using cargo bikes can cut down on noise and air pollution. They can be quicker than using cars or delivery vans. Finding parking is also not as difficult in the city. Of course, there is also the health benefit to riding a bike. It is a great way to get in shape!

Despite their practicality, cargo bikes are less frequently used in North America, although they are slowly starting to catch on in the United States.

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 UPS, which started in Seattle in 1907 as a bicycle messenger company, announced last year that it would start using electric cargo bicycles to deliver packages in Pike Place Market and downtown Seattle in order to reduce congestion.

Denverite Melissa Colonno is a huge fan of cargo bikes and bought hers in October 2017. While living in Seattle from 2008-2012, Melissa and her husband biked a lot and remember seeing several longtail cargo bikes. Around the time their first child arrived in 2012, Melissa started seeing Madsen (a US brand) “bucket bikes” on social media and immediately wanted one.

As her family grew, Melissa tried out various ways to transport her children.

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“When our first child was around one year old, we bought a Yepp bike seat to bike with her around Denver. This worked well. Then, when we were about to have our second child, we bought a Chariot stroller that could also be a bike trailer. We used this frequently to bike with our two kids.”  Melissa has always been intrigued by cargo bikes and once she was pregnant with her third child, she became even more resolved to get one!

When it came time to buy a cargo bike, Melissa and her husband did more research and decided they wanted a tricycle with the cargo box in the front.


She wanted to feel very stable while riding and stopping and wanted to be able to see her kids without having to turn around.
Melissa ordered a Nihola 4.0 with a BionX e-assist from a bike shop in Sacramento, California called from Practical Cycles. They import Niholas from Copenhagen, Denmark.

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The Nihola is unique among trikes in that the steering is independent of the cargo, meaning that you do not have to move the weight of the cargo to steer; Melissa adds that is not difficult to ride or steer. It maneuvers very much like a “regular” bike. However, it might not have quite the same speed and maneuverability as an inline (two wheeled) cargo bike. People who are used to high-speed road bikes may prefer an inline cargo bike to a trike. Since her cargo bike has an electric assist, she can go plenty fast if necessary, but usually she goes slower to stay safe and enjoy the ride.

The Nihola 4.0 has two bench seats which easily fit four children. The maximum load of the cargo box is 265 pounds. There are two Y-harnesses and a lap belt. Both benches are removable, so they currently have one bench removed so that their youngest can sit in a car seat for extra support.

Why choose a cargo bike over a trailer? Melissa says that a trailer worked well enough for transporting her kids. However, a cargo bike is far superior in her opinion. The bike is always ready to go since you do not have to deal with hooking the trailer to the bike. In a cargo bike, the kids are closer to the rider, and usually have a better view of the things around them, which makes the riding experience more enjoyable. Also, trailers get very heavy to pull as the weight of your children increases.

Owning a cargo bike has dramatically affected her car use. She is driving significantly less since purchasing her cargo bike. Her goal is to bike anywhere within a three-mile radius unless the roads are too icy, or there is another safety concern. Since Melissa and her family live near downtown Denver, they can get to many things by bike!

Melissa uses her cargo bike regularly to transport her two oldest kids to and from school, but they use it for many other purposes, too! She frequently uses the cargo bike to run errands; it fits all her family’s groceries! She uses the bike anytime they go somewhere that is just a bit too far to walk. If Melissa and her husband are going to the park for a picnic, they will take the cargo bike, so they can transport their food and lawn chairs. Basically, they use it for carrying all kinds of cargo!

She’s often amazed that biking to places does not take that much longer than driving, and you rarely have to worry about parking! Most importantly, biking makes for a much more enjoyable journey.

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Generally, people are really excited when they see the cargo bike according to Melissa. They get a lot of stares and some comments; almost always positive. People often say things like “nice set-up!” or “can I get a ride?” Occasionally, people will ask more specifics about where they got it or what the brand is. Melissa tries to “sell” one to everyone who is interested!

In her opinion, so many people would benefit from replacing some of their driving with biking. “Getting outside and being physical has such a positive impact on your quality of life. We live in such a car-centric society, but it hasn’t always been that way and it isn’t in many parts of the world. People sometimes question the safety of my bike set up, but I’m quick to point out that driving is not without risks.”


If you are interested in buying a cargo bike, you should definitely do your research. There are many websites, Facebook groups, and bike shops that can provide advice. Depending on how you plan to use your bike and what type of cargo you want to carry, there are many options from utility bikes to cargo tricycles to electric cargo bikes. New bikes are coming out all the time, so there is definitely a good option for everyone. A cargo bike is a financial investment; but much cheaper than a car!

Melissa Colonno is the author of DELIBERATE.LESS. She provides day-to-day tips on reducing household waste and creating a life that strives to be less hectic. Melissa is passionate about decreasing her family’s waste and environmental footprint by making informed and intentional choices. Melissa holds educational sessions about reducing household waste to individuals, school groups, and professionals.

#10000milesin2018: Month 8 update

#10000milesin2018: Month Eight Update!

Total Miles to Date: Target: 6664 miles…My mileage: 6498

Total Number of Strava Group Members: 382

Here’s an update from team member MeisterBruno in St. Augustine, FL who looks to be right on track to ride 10,000 miles in 2018:

Halfway done. Less than 4K to go.

I finished 6K+ miles early on August 3rd and now going towards what could be a 10K year. We’ll see about that. As of today August 27th, 2018 I am at 6,892. The last four months I managed to get an average of 1K miles per month. My strategy is to ride 12 hours a week. It can be an hour or so a day with some long rides on the weekends or about 30 miles a day. I also do a twofer every Tuesday that helps boost miles towards the goal. 

Races I participated in:

Gravel Worlds (150 miles of Gravel on the SingleSpeed in Lincoln, NE), FoCo Fondo, And Golden Gran Fondo. 

Challenges:  The same 200 miles I've been behind on my goal almost all summer still need to be made up and getting those in is proving hard to    do! 

Highlights: I had a great time at Gravel Worlds and also enjoyed a "Tour de     Lincoln" bike ride on the bike paths there the day before my race. 

I also figured out how to sync the Cycleops Phantom 3 spin bike that sits next to my desk at the office, to Zwift, so that I can be pedaling and accumulating miles while I am on the phone and on video calls, etc...  BONUS!

THIS MONTH’S QUESTION: With summer coming to an end and the weather changing, how are you planning on hitting your goal of 10,000 miles if you aren’t able to ride outdoors?

The Fall is my FAVORITE time to ride in Colorado - I love weekend rides this time of year ... changing leaves, most tourist traffic has left the state, and there is a great correlation between weekend football games on TV and an absence of traffic during those times!     No question though, as temps drop, I will be returning to the indoors and ZWIFT very soon.... but for now, I remain focused on using my bike for every possible commute and errand, while working hard to minimize car time- not just for this goal, but also because my back and body overall feel wrecked when I spend too much time in the car.

Riding is hands-down best for me - both mentally AND physically! 

#10000milesin2018: Month 7 Update

Total Number of Strava Group Members: Our group has grown from 251 members in January to now 388 members in July.

Here’s how some of our group members are doing as of the end of June:

John O’Neill in Allentown, Pennsylvania - 7,743 miles

Bart De Lepeleer in Guía de Isora, Canarias, Spain - 5,884 miles / 675,335 ft

Daniel Sattel in Golden, Colorado – 5,050 miles / 605,702 ft

Meister Bruno in St. Augustine, Florida – 5,300 miles

Challenges: None, really. This is the best time of the year for riding! 

Highlights:  I only drove my car 5 days this month.  This was a new record for me and it was amazing to live life by bike during July! This month also included a really big week over the 4th of July holiday, with monster rides from my front door to places all over the front range (Like Lyons, Ward, Georgetown, to name a few!).  

THIS MONTH’S QUESTION: What advice do you have for someone considering riding 10,000 miles next year? What kind of preparation is needed? What kind of training can be done in advance?

I don't know that training is necessary so much as scheduling preparation (and prioritization).  Trips, errands, meetings, board meetings, extra-curricular events, shopping, socializing, and so on- all must be planned with riding there and back in mind.  The more a person can work the bike into their day-to-day schedule and life, the less pressure there is to fit in really big weekend rides.  I personally prefer to sprinkle the miles out during the week than to have to cram them in on the weekends.  This challenge has expanded my already-commute-focused lifestyle even more! 

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Total Miles to Date: Target:

5831 miles…

My mileage: 5630

#10000milesin2018: Month 6 Update

Total Miles to Date: Target: 5000 miles (halfway point!). . . My mileage: 4,899 (slightly behind).

Total Number of Strava Group Members: 356

Rides/Races I participated in:

Dirty Kanza

Denver Century Ride

Haute Route Rockies (Stages 1 (Boulder) and 7 (Pikes Peak))

#LookoutWeek

Challenges: honestly, none this month!  Riding is going really well right now! 

Highlights:  Now that it is fully summer here, I was able to restrict my driving substantially.  I only drove my car 9 days this month (and ironically, half of those days were for bike events like the DCR, HR stages 1 and 7, and BTWD!).  

THIS MONTH’S QUESTION:  What changes have you noticed both physically and mentally six months in to riding 10,000 miles?

I am becoming car-resistant, almost to a fault...  Getting in the car to drive somewhere is such a negative for me right now that I am really picky about what commitments I make and whether I can get there by bike or not.  I guess you'd say after 6 focused months of using the bike as much as possible to get the mileage in, I'm even more bike-obsessed than I was before this challenge began !  

PS - Here's a fun piece of footage from my Cycliq Camera with Strava data overlaid, for my ride through Garden of the Gods after we came down from Pikes Peak.