Like many young families moving out of Vancouver, our family of four had our sights set on brighter — and hillier — pastures when we moved to Gibsons in August 2022. Being car-free in the city was easy with the abundance of transit and car sharing. Once we had kids, I bought my first electric bike and a trailer to tow them around East Van. Immediately, my mental health improved, as I replaced transit and crowded streets with tree-lined greenways and bike paths.
Our move to the coast coincided with my kids growing up on the largest double bike trailer I could find. I’m a huge cycling fan, and unable to drive for medical reasons, so continuing as a car-free family was important to me. We already had a RadWagon cargo bike as a backup bike for our trailer rig, but we needed a new solution that fit our new lifestyle—something more stable than the two-wheeled design, with greater carrying capacity, that could still climb all but the steepest hills. The lack of cycling infrastructure on the coast makes long-distance cycling difficult, but our daily triangle of school and home groceries remains roughly the same.
After researching several two- and three-wheel model options, we settled on Bunch Bikes from Denton, TX. The Bunch Bike is a three-wheeled or bakfeet design. The large passenger area between the two front wheels has removable seats for four children, shoulder straps and a rain tent canopy. Like a sleigh ride in the winter, my kids travel in their own weatherproof stroller and share a cuddle blanket between them. Electric assistance helps get us all up the hills. At first glance, the design appears bulky, but it has the same unexpected grace of the hippos from Fantasia. The ride is smoother than it looks.
The Cherry3000, our family’s new flagship, arrived on Halloween last fall. It also qualifies us for the grand prize in Bunch Bikes’ annual Free Car Challenge. We won with the idea of “reduce mileage” – because we didn’t have any mileage to reduce! Our new bike helped us get through our first winter on the coast. We’ve used them for school deliveries, grocery trips, horseback riding lessons, swimming, hauling home treasures from local farms, libraries and free beaches.
It’s large enough to command its own lane on roads and justify a parking spot, but still stylish enough to take paths that cars can’t reach. It stays put even in the worst weather, and the balloon tires shed short of snow and slush. In December, we went to a Hanukkah party in the middle of a snowstorm! You don’t need a strong sense of balance to ride it, and it doesn’t really feel like you’re driving a car or riding a bike. More like a Formula 1 racing shopping cart.
These past few months have renewed my love affair with cycling with my kids, being a car-free family, and supporting cycling. We have fostered a close connection to the environment through which we travel, our community and each other. Our previous bike trailer was so low to the ground, the kids couldn’t see anything behind the bike. Now they have elevated 360 degree views. We stopped to observe bears, coyotes, deer and ducks. Although wildlife sightings are common here, they are often overlooked. My kids are now in front of me too where I can quickly ask questions and have rambling conversations about a variety of topics. We can chat with the neighbors, or drop a friend or two off.
Now that the weather is warmer, we look forward to attending community events, farmers markets, and exploring this beautiful coast. Our furthest trip to date was the Gibsons to Roberts Creek, a round trip that can easily be done on a single battery charge.
So how do you start your journey to becoming car-free? Start small, slow and simple. Borrow a friend’s bike to try it out first, or come check out mine. Park your car at a friend’s for a week or two and see how you cope without it. Replace a few car trips with bike trips each week. Develop your community connections for trail information, tips for biking with kids, and building bike pools. Our family has found a second bike that adds flexibility when we attend events as a family, or when we don’t need the extra capacity of our Bunch Bike.
There are many electric cargo bikes on the market, serving a variety of family needs. We are happy to show you the bike we found to be a good fit. If you see us outside, come by and say “hello.” We’re also members of the Bunch Squad Referral Program and love answering questions, giving test rides, and showing off our new family minivan.