Eric and Anni Klein use their Bakfiets front-loading cargo bike to get around town.
Courtesy Photo

When Eric Klein awoke to find a cargo bike under the tree on Christmas morning, he felt the same giddy excitement he’d felt as a kid, but this time he got to share it. His young daughter, Anni, was just as happy to hop on the bike and go for a ride.

Built to haul heavy loads, cargo bikes were once the exclusive tool of messengers and city delivery services, but now they are being embraced by families with young children looking for a way to turn daily chores into an adventure. “I like just about any kind of bike,” said Klein, “but I really just fell in love with this one.”

Four years later, Klein and 8-year-old Anni are still stoked to be pedaling around their Goleta neighborhood. They use the bike for errands, school runs, trips to the movies and library — anything within about a four-mile radius. The best part, Klein said, is the sense of connection with his daughter. “It feels like we really are right there with each other.”

The Price family also enjoys a car-free commute. For the last two years, they have made the rounds to day care and school with 3-year-old Nick and 5-year-old Ian on the back of their long-tail bike. “Those are all short trips,” said Robert Price, but they add up over time. “We have saved over 600 car miles in the city of Santa Barbara.”

Brittany Heaton and her husband, Jim, regularly haul their two daughters through downtown Santa Barbara on the back of the family’s two bikes, a long-tail Big Dummy and a Madsen, the pick-up truck of the cargo bike world.

Heaton wants to share the sense of freedom she felt biking as a child and to promote a healthy, active lifestyle in 7-year-old Stella and 5-year-old Meadow. “As long as we live in a place that is conducive to riding comfortably year-round, it makes sense to prepare them to do that.” Heaton hopes that the growing number of local biking families will inspire others. “The more you see it, the more you think, ‘Hey, we could do that.’”


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