Cargo Etiquette: Everything You Need To Know About Riding With Cargo
March 10, 2023
Cargo bikes are becoming increasingly popular ways to transport goods, and enjoy rides with your kids or pets. With the rise of more bike lanes in cities and bike-friendly infrastructure such as trails, bike paths, and sharrows, cargo bikes and cycle trailers are becoming a convenient, sustainable, and fun alternative to cars and trucks for all your transportation needs. However, when riding a cargo bike, or hauling a bike cargo trailer behind you, it’s important to follow proper etiquette to ensure safety and respect for other road users, and for you and your passengers as well.
In this blog, we’ll explore some key etiquette guidelines for using a cargo bike and bicycle cargo trailer, understanding the importance of properly securing your cargo, and safety precautions while riding with passengers.
Cargo Best Practices
Riding a cargo bike or towing a bike utility trailer may seem easy enough. They’re just bikes, right? Yes, and no. There’s more to them than that. Let’s take a look at some cargo best practices, and how you can rest assured you’re ready for the road.
Riding A Cargo Bike
First things first, before you ride, do an ABC check. That means you’ve got the right air pressure in your tires, your brakes are in working order, and your chain is lubed and ready to go. Also, make sure your seat is at a comfortable height, and your handlebards in a secured position.
Next, it’s important to know that a cargo bike has more meat on the frame, meaning it weighs more than the average bicycle (and that’s even before you start loading it up with all your goods!). Knowing this you’ll want to get acquainted with the feel of the bike and how to find your balance. Once you feel confident enough, it’s time to start cranking those pedals. Start slow and work your way to a controllable speed. Since cargo bikes are heavier you’ll want to give yourself plenty of braking time. This goes for towing bike trailer cargo as well. Be mindful that there’s more bike than you’re probably used to.
As you ride, remember to obey all traffic laws, including stopping at stop signs and traffic lights, using hand signals when turning (if your cargo bike doesn’t have turn signals like the Aventon Abound), and staying in designated bike lanes or on the right side of the road.
Understanding The Weight
One of the best features of a cargo bike, or a trailer for bikes, is the extra space! This opens up a world of possibilities for taking everything you need wherever you go. However, with the extra space comes the added weight. Make sure you know the weight limit for your cargo bike or trailer before loading it up. For example, Aventon’s all-new Abound has a rear weight capacity of 143 lbs. Knowing how much weight you can load up can help protect your bike from damage, and protect you on the road.
Securing Your Cargo
Now that you’ve got your cargo loaded up it’s time to secure it. This starts with using the appropriate accessories for your use case, whether you’re using bags, a basket, or handrails and a seat pad. Make sure your bags are closed up tight, your goods in the basket are secured and tied down using a bungee or cargo net, or your littles are safely holding on to the railing as you go. Knowing that you’ve properly secured everything you can have peace of mind to keep you focused on the road ahead. Also, be aware of weight distribution. This can help with balance. Try to equally distribute the weight of your cargo so you can safely ride with confidence.
Using A Trailer Hitch
If you’re using a cargo trailer, the same safety suggestions above apply here. Make sure you’ve bought the best bike trailer for your use case. This differs from a cargo bike in that you’re riding a bike with trailer attached to the back as opposed to an all integrated unit. Before you take off riding make sure the trailer is properly fastened and secure to your bike. Remember, the best bike cargo trailer is the one that provides you with the most functionality and is sure to protect your goods or your little ones.
All Aboard The Cargo Train
Turn your solo rides into family fun by bringing your kids or pets with you! You’re not the only one that wants to feel the wind in their hair. That being said, let’s go over some proper etiquette when bringing passengers aboard the cargo train.
Riding With Children
Before riding, have a conversation with your kids. Make sure they understand what is expected of them when riding: how they should behave, for example, they should always remain seated, and if you have a seat pad and railing on your cargo, make sure they’re holding onto the railing and keeping their feet on the footboard to better protect their toes while riding.
Safety first! Make sure that your littles are wearing helmets. Second, make sure your child’s seat is appropriate for their age, size, and weight, and make sure the seat(s) are properly installed and secured. Use appropriate restraints such as a five-point harness, lap belt, or shoulder straps. If you have more than one child on the back, be sure both their weights combined meet the weight capacity of the cargo bike’s rear rack. This can protect you and them when riding. Most importantly, have fun! That’s what it’s all about.
Here’s a few extra tips to consider while riding with a passenger(s):
Communicate with your children - Talk to your children about what you are doing and what they can expect while riding the cargo bicycle. Encourage them to ask questions or let you know if they are uncomfortable or need to take a break.
Ride at an appropriate speed - Slow down and take extra care when riding with children to ensure their safety and comfort. Ride at a speed that is appropriate for the road conditions and the ability of your children to hold on and stay seated.
Avoid busy or high-speed roads - Choose routes that are quiet and low-traffic, and avoid busy or high-speed roads. Stay in the bike lane and try to ride on streets with sharrows when you can.
Be extra cautious when turning and braking - Cargo bicycles and trailers with children in tow can make the bike heavier and handle differently than regular bicycles, so take extra care when turning and braking..
Riding With Pets
Furrys love a good time, too! Especially if they’re mild mannered and can sit patiently on the back of your cargo bike, cycle trailers, or in a front handlebar basket. If you’re new to riding with an animal with you, start slow. Train your pet by using treats to get them comfortable with riding and take them on short rides to get them used to the motion and the environment. Patience goes a long way and it might take a little time before they’re ready for longer rides.
Here’s a few more extra tips that can help you make sure your pets are comfortable and safe:
Use an appropriate pet carrier or basket - Choose a bike cargo trailer or basket that is appropriate for the size and weight of your pet, and make sure it is securely attached to your cargo bicycle before you start riding.
Secure the carrier or basket - If you’re using bike cargo trailers or baskets, make sure it’s securely fastened to the cargo bicycle, and that the pet can’t escape or fall out when riding. Use appropriate restraints such as a leash or straps to keep your pet secure.
Use appropriate ventilation and shade - Make sure the cargo trailer or basket has adequate ventilation and shade to keep your pet cool and comfortable. Avoid riding in extreme heat or cold weather if you can!
Communicate with your pet - Talk to your pet during the ride and encourage them with positive reinforcement. Be aware of any signs of discomfort or stress, and be prepared to take a break if needed.
Load Up And Load Out
This may seem like a lot to digest, but now that you have the basics covered you can ride confidently knowing you understand what exactly riding a cargo bike or towing a trailer is all about. Remember to always have fun and ride safe! It’s important for you and your passengers.