‘In at the deep end’: ditching the car for a cargo bike on the school run

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The price tags can be eye-watering for the electric model I need around my hilly London neighbourhood

It’s been 20 years since I last used a bike every day. But I’m returning to cycling because I want to take my children to school and nursery without the horrible sense of guilt from dropping them off in the car, complaints about walking or the juggle of pushchair and public transport at rush-hour.

To replace my car on the daily school run, I need an electrically powered workhorse that will carry two smallish children and the bags of stuff that we lug around wherever we go.

The options, I’m told, are an elongated cargo bike that fits two children on the back, a detachable trailer, or a trike/bike with a giant child bucket on the front.

In an ideal world, it will be powerful enough that I don’t feel dragged down by 30kg of offspring while chugging the household around my hilly London neighbourhood. The longtail electric cargo seems like the best fit for this brief.

There are various “car replacement” bikes on the market with eye-watering price tags. The Tern GSD retails at £5k-plus at the top end. The model I choose to try out is a RadWagon, at the cheapest end of the market, though not actually cheap at more like £2,000 with all the necessary attachments.

My main concern is whether I can keep my wriggling cargo safe. I spend a long time poring over Google maps to figure out a route that avoids buses and sticks to cycle paths and parks as much as possible.

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