It's time to explain a bit more of the story of how I got interested in cargo bikes.
Here's me and my 2.2 year old, Sarah.
Sarah has Pallister-Killian Syndrome
. For the biologically inclined, that's mosaic tetrasomy of chromosome 12p. It's a rare genetic thing that just happens for no known reason. There's less than 300 known cases in the world. She has multiple disabilities including severe developmental delay and hypotonia (poor muscle control)... and she loves a good cuddle
With her neck strength and control, there's no way she'd be able to sit in a normal upright bike seat or trailer for any length of time. Not with the weight of a helmet and the bumpy ride she'd get on a bike. And even more than most parents, I want to be able to keep an eye on her... so a rear-mount seat or trailer wasn't a great option.
But she can ride in a reclined car seat just fine. When I saw a Dutch bakfiets in a photo on the interweb, I knew I'd found the way to get Sarah out on a bike - her car seat mounted in the cargo box of a bakfiets. Up front where I can see her.
So I started looking for a bakfiets. Then I found out how much they cost. And that nobody was (at the time) bringing them in to Australia.
I have a couple of Asian colleagues and contacts through work, so I put the feelers out to see if I could find a supplier building something similar. After all, the massive majority of the world's bikes are built in Taiwan and China.
The rest is rapidly becoming history. I had to bluff a bit to get some "samples" sent - exporters are looking to send full container loads, not ones and twos. I must have fallen for my own bluff - we agreed to some changes, and my newly registered company has its first container load on the way.
But back to the small picture: I now have a cargo bike to take my Sarah for rides on.
I've built a simple platform to bolt into the cargo box, which supports the car seat at a good angle. I've mounted anchor points and belts to secure the seat. With advice from her early intervention physio, I'm just about finished making a support cushion to fit inside the car seat, to prop her back and shoulders far enough forward to allow her to wear a helmet.
Car seats weren't designed to fit small people wearing bike helmets. I don't think the helmet adds anything to her safety (she has the car seat and the cargo box for protection. If we were to have a serious crash where the box and seat weren't enough, a styrofoam hat isn't likely to help). But, there's laws, and theres Mrs Barefoot, so we're working around the helmet.
The verdict: she loves it.
Still needs some tweaks (these photos were before the insert cushion and without her helmet adjusted properly), but it's going to work.
Hopefully the weather will hold out today, and we'll be able to go for a bit more of a ride than the little round-the-block test jaunts we've had so far.