Every Parent Needs an Electric Cargo Bike

It will change your life, as this mother has discovered.

loaded cargo e-bike
Electric cargo bike, loaded up with kids and skimboard for 5-mile trip to the beach.

K Martinko

Whenever I hear friends talking about how they need to get a new car to carry their growing children and accompanying heaps of stuff, I want to say, "Think about getting an electric cargo bike instead!" It's one of the greatest investments you could ever make for your family, and for so many reasons.

Every trip becomes an exciting event. Young children will love traveling on the e-bike because they do no work, and yet feel engaged in the process. They sit perched atop a padded seat, protected by a helmet, sidebars, five-point harness, or whatever accessories you've purchased based on your kid's age. Over time they'll learn to ride a bike by riding on the back of one, becoming familiar with the balance that's required and the rules of the road. 

They get to feel the sun, wind, and rain in their faces, hear the noise of the passing world, and smell the air. There is no screaming "Are we there yet?" in the backseat because they're loving the journey; they're engaged with it. In fact, you may reach your destination with an overall sense of joy and satisfaction that's the opposite of the usual stress and annoyance one often feels when navigating traffic, parking lots, and car seats. 

You, the parent, get exercise! If I had a dollar for every time a mom friend complained about not having time or motivation to work out, I'd have a gym membership paid for a year. It's a common refrain—and an understandable one—but then why not incorporate physical exercise into your daily routine? An e-bike makes it easy. 

It's not the cop-out some claim it to be. An e-bike still gets your heart rate up because you go further and longer than you would on a regular bike. Plus, you can adjust the level of pedal assistance you get, making it harder or easier depending on the conditions. I think Climate Action Center put it best, saying, "It won't make you sweat, unless you want to." That's an apt description; thanks to the pedal assist, you can determine how warm or cool you are when you arrive at your destination. 

You can load up a cargo bike. I no longer want to ride my regular bike anywhere because it has no cargo-carrying capacity aside from what fits in a backpack. With the e-bike's built-in seats and baskets, it's an easy go-to choice for transportation. You don't have to worry about how you're going to carry things home or who you have to pick up from a friend's house because you know you can do it.

electric cargo bike rides
Electric cargo bike rides around town and to the Lake Huron beach.

K Martinko / C Dobby

You'll be surprised at how many miles you put on that bike. The odometer adds up fast, even when you're only taking small trips around town or your city neighborhood. This translates to significant financial savings—no gas costs, no issues with parking, and the satisfaction that comes with knowing you're keeping a vehicle off the road and contributing to cleaner air quality. E-bikes are incredibly efficient, around twenty times more so than electric cars and getting between 30 and 100 times more miles per pound of battery (via Climate Action Center). 

It's such a great example to set for your kid, too, who will grow up thinking that traveling by electric cargo bike is the most normal thing in the world. They in turn will be more likely to embrace the habit down the road, questioning the societal expectation to buy a car, and knowing the satisfaction and pleasure that comes from two-wheeled alternatives.

They'll become more comfortable with being outdoors and dressing for different conditions since e-bikes can be ridden all year round. This riding time might help to offset the pandemic of screens that have taken over their lives and show them firsthand how good it feels to unplug occasionally.

If you're curious but reluctant to spend the money upfront, ask a friend or acquaintance who owns a cargo e-bike if you can take it for a spin—or stop e-bike-riding strangers on the street to ask about their experiences. Trust me, it's like a fun club where people are eager to recruit more members and spread the good news of the cargo e-bike revolution. People with these bikes are happy to encourage others to get them, too, because it benefits everyone.