The main reason my husband suggested we DRIVE to London from Italy, was so that we can go and visit a specialty bicycle shop called London Green Cycles, as he had done some research for a while as to the best bike he can get for me, so that I can transport my 2 girls around…
When I lived in London a while back, my roommate Gina and I thought we would be clever and buy bicycles to cycle around London instead of always having to take the underground…. Firstly, with my sense of direction, and secondly, with all the buses in London, this was not a clever idea for us. I was terrified every time I went on my bike, thinking a big red bus was going to run straight over me…. and I swear they were trying to run over us every single time, they were so intimidating!
So when Richard suggested we drive to London with the 4 kids, and bring his and the boys bikes with, then buy me a bike that I can carry both my girls with, and cycle through London, I wasn’t sure I was excited about the idea… He assured me it will me WONDERFUL!
We arrived in London and the next day went straight to London Green Cycles to check out the bike Richard had researched. London Green Cycles specialises in cargo bikes and has a variety of different options available to transport kids. They have the famous Danish Christiania bikes, which we actually rented (they do rentals too) for the day to test out. But I fell in love with the bike that Richard had researched, the American brand, Xtracycle cargo bike. For me personally, the Christiania bike, although amazing as well (Richard and the boys loved driving it around!) was harder for me to steer… Whereas with the Xtracycle, it’s like riding a normal bike. You don’t even feel the weight of the 2 kids on the back of you. Also it’s much more enjoyable for the kids on the back to ride sitting behind you.
Richard, who wasn’t even planning to buy a bike, fell in love with another cargo bike called the Omnium cargo bike from Copenhagen. It has a long cargo area in the front of the bike, so we bought a huge bag for us to be able to carry everything in, and load onto his bike. We were now set. I had the bike to carry the kids and he had the bike to carry all our luggage. The boys had their own bikes. Off we went!
We cycled all around London. Everywhere. It was amazing, I didn’t once go on the bus or the underground. You don’t waste any time with public transport. I only went on Uber once, when I had to get from Camden to Chelsea with the girls and it was just too far for me to cycle. We got stuck at every traffic light and there was so much traffic I couldn’t wait to be back on my bike… Considering my sense of direction, this biking app BIKE CITIZENS made all the difference for us. BIKE CITIZENS is an app that uses the know-how of bike couriers and is designed for cyclists in cities, showing cycling paths and side streets. It really details for you the exact path to take, the distance, the timing, everything you need. That together with the fact that London is SO much more bicycle friendly now made cycling in London a pure joy. There are bicycle paths everywhere now, you don’t have to feel threatened by the big red buses anymore, it has become so cycle friendly it’s amazing! And what an extra bonus that you’re getting your exercise as you enjoy the day;)
London doesn’t feel the same to me anymore. It fees smaller. It’s so easy for us to get from Camden to South Bank, or to Covent Garden, or to Kings Cross, or to Regents Park, or any park for that matter. And it’s amazing how many smiles you get from strangers walking by, when you are cycling around with 2 kids on the back! Gaja and Soraya were so happy they sang their way all through London on the back of my bike!
If you’re ever in London, go to London Green Cycles to check out their varieties of cargo bikes! And if you’re just visiting London, make sure to visit them as well as they also do rentals, and what better way to spend the day with your family then cycling around the beautiful London parks!
Here is my Q&A with Roman, the man behind London Green Cycles:
1. When did you open London Green Cycles?
LGC was established back in August 2012, the shop was open in May 2013.
2. How do you see the future of biking/cargo biking, in a city like London?
I personally see cycling as a key part of modern urban mobility. The potential of cargo bikes is beyond benefits to riders themselves. For example, school runs are a major cause of traffic, if only 10% of parents convert from motorised vehicles to cargo bikes, the difference will immediately have a positive impact on traffic around schools and residential areas.
3. Who are your customers? Are you able to customise the bikes depending on what people would be using them for?
The range of our customers is incredibly diverse. Since businesses started to explore the advantages of cargo bikes there has been a noticeable change, within the past 2 years. Currently about half of those sold or hired is used for commercial and half for none commercial purposes. About 10% of bikes sold by us is customised to some extent.
4. What kind of feedback have you had from families, transporting their children on these cargo bikes?
Most would say they cannot do without the bike for one day and find it hard to understand how they coped before. I would say that these bikes bring back the freedom to parents. Both drivers and those using public transport have to consider many things in order to avoid delays, life of a cyclist is much simpler in that respect. Not mentioning the time, money, health and effect it has on their children.
5. Which are the most common types of cargo bikes you are selling?
Initially we were mostly selling Christiania as these were around in UK for many years, nowadays it is more balanced and evening up more and more. It is exciting to see new manufacturers doing well. Generally speaking people are becoming more open minded and enjoying the variety of designs available these days. That makes it more fun and even more interesting for us.
What other cities do you suggest are bicycle friendly? We now have our speciality bikes so are open to suggestion as to where you think we should visit next with our bikes!
London Green Cycles
4 Chester Court, Albany Street, NW1 4BU, UK
Omnium cargo bike