Rachel and Chris Keil

Several years ago Chicagoans  Rachel and Chris Keil chose bikes to replace a car with a broken transmission.  Rachel’s cancer diagnosis and treatment last year led them to purchase an electric cargo bike.  

The couple talks about how an eCargo bike is great transportation in their urban community and a real joy for their seven-year-old daughter Eleanor.

Why did you start commuting by e-cargo bike?

Rachel: We had a Yuba Mundo cargo bike which Eleanor loved. I wanted to keep biking while undergoing cancer treatment, but would get very tired. So we started looking for an electric cargo. I’m fine now and life is great!  We zoom around town on our eCargo and bring our daughter with us everywhere without exhausting myself. 

An eCargo bike makes all the difference. I will generally only turn it up to Turbo if I know I’ve got to get somewhere really fast.

What does a regular week look like on the e-cargo bike? 

Chris and Rachel: We take Eleanor to school, church, stores and to whatever she has going on. We take her to her sleepovers with all her gear. She rides her own bike when the weather is nice. We’ll bundle her up in colder weather. She loves it and gets to experience the neighborhood so differently being on a bike. 

What kind of reactions have you folks gotten from people who see you out on the bike?

Rachel: People want to know where we got our eCargo bike.  They’ll say “What is that thing? That’s a cool bike. Does that have an electric motor? Do you still have to pedal?”

We also get a lot of people asking, “Don’t you get cold? Isn’t this difficult? Doesn’t the child complain?” Eleanor doesn’t mind. She just enjoys the ride!

You’re in charge on a bike, so that takes a lot of the stress off. It really gets frustrating when you have to deal with traffic in a car, a train breaking down, or delays that are due to other people. I did the math at one point and figured out that we would spend at least as much time outdoors in the cold going to the train station, waiting outside on the platform, and walking back as I spent commuting to work on the bike. 

I think there’s a lot of people who are really interested in biking and eCargos  and would really like to try, but not sure that this is something they could do. Honestly, if you have a chance, just go for it, why not? We like it a lot. 

What are some of the wildest and biggest loads you’ve carried on a cargo bike?

Chris: We learned straps and bungee cords will transport pets to the vet, kids, furniture, and even other bikes.  Rachel won a 50” TV at the office Christmas party a couple of years ago which we strapped to the cargo bike. We had to take pictures, because everyone in the office wanted to see. I even needed to take a bike home which was strapped to the cargo bike.

What’s the furthest that either of you has ridden the e-cargo bike?

Chris: The furthest we took Eleanor was a birthday party fifteen miles away. The zoo’s about twelve miles which was doable with the Yuba Cargo, but an eCargo bike just really extends the range not just of where you can go, but getting home. Now I can go to the zoo with her and walk around all day, and then the ride back is not something I’m sweating, like it was previously. It makes the trip home a lot easier.

What Would You Say to People Considering Changing to eCargo Bikes to replace a car? 

Chris: I’d just try it. It’s worth coming in and test riding. The eCargo bike is a lot of fun.