Moving the family: from two cars to four bikes

02 Feb 23 | By pp-admin

When Sharon Gray and her young family moved to Canberra’s Inner North in 2020 from regional NSW they owned two cars. Not even three years on, they have transitioned to a (nearly) car-free life.

“We needed two cars while living out of town” recalls Sharon “but, once we moved, all of the Inner Canberra commutes felt too short to use the car”.

While living out of town, Sharon and her family would commute into Canberra together to the ANU where Sharon is working and completing a PhD in hydrogeology. Then her husband Adam would take an e-scooter to his work in the Parliamentary Triangle.

Once they moved to Canberra, they continued using e-scooters for a while but quickly decided to invest in a bike. Their son William was 2 years old at the time and he happily rode in a child bike seat and trailer, until he outgrew it about one year later.

“This presented a new challenge for us” says Sharon “as he was too big for the trailer but still too small to safely ride on a tag-along bike for long enough to get to daycare.

“We had seen videos from overseas with cargo bikes and we started investigating those as an option, but they are quite expensive and we were reluctant to take the plunge without being sure if they would work for us.”

It was at that time that Sharon came across the e-bike library managed by SEE Change. Thanks to this, the family was able to try out different bikes and they even hired one for a couple of weeks, just to be sure.

“From that exercise, we realised both the front bucket and the long tail cargo bikes would suit us. The first is more for carrying things and William, whereas the long tail is more of a people mover, where all three of us can fit” says Sharon.

She wasn’t always a cyclist. Before moving to Canberra, Sharon had not been riding since her teen years, but as her and her husband committed more to bikes, they were able to sell one of their cars.

“We had been enjoying the front bucket cargo bike for a while and it was working well for us for trips to the farmers’ markets, the park, daycare and the zoo” says Sharon, “but it wasn’t until William and I successfully ventured to the hardware store in Gungahlin that I realised the second car was no longer needed”.

In fact, the family’s remaining car is also spending most of its time in the garage now and Sharon and Adam are thinking that if the car stops working, they may see how long they can go without a car at all.

“We now have 4 bikes.” says Sharon “The two cargo bikes, plus two commuter ones. All electric. So the car only gets used if we travel out of town”.

Sharon is passionate about getting more families on bikes and has noticed that just using cargo bikes around town sparks conversations and raises awareness about how families can make bike travel more comfortable and practical.