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From Issue #19 June 20, 2013

Hub and Spoke

A family at a time, a biking revolution has grown.

By Elly Blue Twitter icon 

Photo by Stig Rudeholm. Used under Creative Commons license.

Sara Armstrong faced a classic transportation dilemma five years ago. She, her husband, and their three young boys had lived in New Haven, Connecticut, for about a year. Armstrong had just begun a full-time job, and her older boys, five-year-old twins, would start kindergarten in the fall at the school where she worked. It was too far for them to walk, but she also felt it was too close to justify the environmental impact of driving them in the family minivan. She needed an alternative that didn’t seem to exist.

“You need a bakfiets,” Armstrong’s friend told her one day: a European family bicycle. A bakfiets (literally, box bike in Dutch), her friend explained, looks like a wheelbarrow and can carry multiple children. She had read about such bikes on an environmental blog. Armstrong had no idea what she meant, but she wrote the word down to look up later.

Cycling would be perfect, she thought. Her husband regularly commuted by bike, often with their two-year-old in a seat on his vintage English road bike, but she had never seen a bicycle that could carry more than one child. Her biking horizons were about to expand.

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