How to Know if a Cargo Bike is Right for Your Family

For Erin DeLaney, the decision to purchase a cargo bike required a change of thinking and a focus on what truly mattered to her family.

Photo by Christopher Delaney

Photo by Christopher Delaney

Three years ago, my husband and I were pregnant with our first babe and living in Denver, CO. We owned one car that my husband used for his long commutes to work. With little access to a car, but an appetite for adventure, I fell in love with riding my bike in the city. I knew that once our daughter was born I would want to continue riding, so we started exploring our bike options for riding with a child. But, a few months after she was born, we unexpectedly moved to Casper, WY, for a new job. Our dream of urban living and riding bikes as a family quickly faded when we found ourselves in rural America, and on a very tight budget. Our plan of purchasing a cargo bike would have to be put on hold until we were back in a city and bringing in more income.

As the months went by, we thought about a cargo bike often. We thought about it weekly, sometimes daily, but our financial situation only seemed to get bleaker. What we realized was that we needed to change our thinking. Maybe we would start enjoying our town more if we could ride bikes as a family. Maybe we would have more room in our budget if we no longer used $700 a month for our car payments, gas, and insurance. In a week’s time, we sold our car, bought a cargo bike and have never looked back.

In a practical sense, our cargo bike has given us more financial freedom and access to the things we value, but could not previously afford. A $4,500 cargo bike might appear to be a sign of wealth and affluence, but for us this bike has been our way to make ends meet, our way to slow down and take back the simple things in life. Nutritious, organic food, good wine, a healthy body, and fresh flowers on our table are all things I desire and cherish, but for a family living on our income, those things are considered luxuries.

Our cargo bike has inspired us to spend our money fueling our bodies and minds, rather than machines, and the physical and emotional benefits are what I find myself savoring most these days. Our bike has inspired us to live more consciously and locally, simply by being limited to getting around by our own power. It has opened our eyes to people, places, and things we would have previously not noticed in our car. Getting the opportunity to share these seemingly mundane, everyday happenings with our young daughter has been an absolute joy. With a strong willed two-year-old riding our bikes is also our way to tame a tantrum and restore peace in all of us. Our cargo bike makes it possible to live a good, clean, and inexpensive life as a family.

Erin DeLaney is a wife, mother, choreographer, dreamer, and whole food enthusiast. She and her family live car-free in Portland, OR, where they strive to live a good life, simply. She documents her domestic adventures at

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