Like many young families priced out of Vancouver, our family of four set our sights on sunnier—and hillier— pastures when we moved to Gibsons in August 2022. Being car-free in the city was easy with abundant transit and vehicle carshares. Once we had kids, I bought my first ebike and trailer rig to tow them around East Van. Instantly, my mental health improved, trading in transit and congested streets for tree-lined greenways and bike paths.
Our move to the Coast coincided with my kids outgrowing the largest double bike trailer I could find. I’m a cycling advocate, 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 our back-up bike to the trailer rig, but we needed a new solution to match our new lifestyle—something more stable than a two-wheel design, with a larger carrying capacity, that could still climb all but the steepest hills. The lack of cycling infrastructure on the Coast makes cycling long distances challenging, but our daily triangle of school-home-groceries remains roughly the same.
After researching various two- and three-wheel model options, we settled on Bunch Bikes from Denton, TX. The Bunch Bike is a reverse trike or bakfiet design. A large passenger area between the two front wheels has removable benches for four kids, shoulder harnesses and a rain tent canopy. Like a winter sleigh ride, my kids travel in their own weatherproof carriage and share a lap blanket between them. The electric assist helps me get us all up the hills. At first glance, the design seems bulky, but it has the same unexpected grace of the hippos from Fantasia. The ride is smoother than it appears.
Cherry3000, our family’s new flagship, arrived on Halloween last fall. It also qualified us for a grand prize in Bunch Bikes annual Car Free Challenge. We won for “reduced car mileage,”—because we didn’t have any car mileage to reduce! Our new bike has gotten us through our first winter on the Coast. We’ve used it for school drop-offs, grocery runs, horse lessons, swimming, and hauling home treasures from local farms, free libraries and beaches.
It’s big enough to command its own lane on roads and justify a parking spot, yet still sleek enough to take paths cars can’t access. It remains stable in even the worst weather, and the balloon tires make short work of the snow and slush. In December, we went to a Chanukah party in a blizzard! You don’t need a strong sense of balance to ride it, and it doesn’t really feel like driving a car or riding a bike. More like a Formula 1 racing shopping cart.
These past few months have rekindled my love affair with cycling with my kids, being a car-free family, and with cycling advocacy. We’ve fostered a closer connection to the environment we travel through, our community and each other. Our former 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’ve stopped to observe bears, coyotes, deer and ducks. While wildlife sightings are common here, they are often overlooked. My kids are also now in front of me where I can field questions on the fly, and have rambling conversations on a variety of topics. We can chat with neighbours, or give a friend or two a lift.
Now that the warmer weather is at hand, we’re looking forward to attending community events and farmers’ markets, and exploring this beautiful Coast. Our furthest trip so far was Gibsons to Roberts Creek, a round trip easily doable on one battery charge.
So how do you start on your journey to become 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 to see how you cope without it. Replace a few car trips with bike trips each week. Develop your community connections for route info, hacks for cycling with kids and building bike pools. Our family has found a second bike adds flexibility for when we attend events as a family, or 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’re happy to show off the bike we’ve found that works for us. If you see us out and about, come over to say “hi.” We’re also members of the Bunch Squad referral program and love answering questions, offering test rides and showing off our new family minivan.