Has Adrian Chiles lost his calculator?

Over the past few years, there's been a massive increase in the number of parents using cargo bikes to carry their children around. The cost of living crisis is one huge factor in this - filling the tank with petrol has become increasingly prohibitive for so many families.

Also, the new generation of parents coming through is acutely aware of the mess the environment is in. They're fed up of waiting for the powers-that-be to do something and they're taking matters into their own hands.

Here at Cycle Sprog, we've been really busy writing advice articles to support this growing cargo biking community.

We're also vocal in our support for campaigns for safer spaces for families to cycle - particularly on routes to school.

It was therefore really disappointing this morning to read an article in the Guardian newspaper by Adrian Chiles that poured scorn on family cargo bikes.

cargo bike used by family with child and dog

If you've not read it, then the theme is that only very affluent parents can afford a £3,999 cargo bike to ferry their kids around in.

No consideration at all about how £3,999 compares to the cost of a family car.

Or any awareness of the comparative running costs.

Oh, there's also a really weird comment about how the growing number of cargo bike delivery services are run by poor people as acts of servitude to wealthy people sitting at home waiting for their deliveries of luxury goods. I'm going to let someone with a successful delivery service company which is revitalising this crucial industry deal with that comment!

Back to the premise that an upfront cost of £3,999 is too expensive for a method of getting your family around town.

This is Cycle Sprog's response to Adrian Chiles's tone-deaf comments - which has been sent to the letters page of the Guardian newspaper this morning.

I've no idea if my letter will be published, but the comments section on their article is going crazy with comments of a similar nature, which is great to see.


I run the family cycling website Cycle Sprog, which is the leading information resource on cycling with kids.

Sadly the mood in our community this morning is one of disappointment and despair at Adrian Chiles article.

I'm therefore submitting this response for your letters page, which I hope you feel able to publish.


Adrian Chiles is right to be shocked by the cost of a cargo bike (£3,999 for a cargo bike?! How a new kind of class politics arrived on Britain’s streets – 16 March 2023)

If purchased on a 24 month interest free finance plan this is just £167 per month for unlimited local transport for two years, then negligible cost thereafter. No wonder that during this cost-of-living crisis so many families are swapping from driving to cargo biking.

Not only are they benefiting financially they're also reducing levels of air pollution and road congestion. And we haven't even started discussing the feel-good factor of sticking two fingers up to the obscene profits of oil and gas companies.

Add in the physical and mental health benefits of active travel, along with being better connected to your community when you're no longer trapped inside a car, and it’s obvious why so many parents are choosing to cargo bike.

The real questions the Guardian should be asking include:

"Why hasn't the government fast tracked the delivery of safe cycle infrastructure to all communities around the country?"

"Are family cargo bikes the answer to getting more women cycling?"

"Why aren't electric cargo bikes receiving the same subsidies as other electric vehicles?" and

"What is being done to accelerate the manufacture of family cargo bikes and accessories to relieve the current shortages?"

Last month we surveyed our readers and 73% said they cycle with their children because it makes them happy.

It appears that Adrian Chiles desperately needs to get onto a cargo bike and feel the joy, before he descends any further into the stereotypical out of touch grumpy old man role his article portrays him as.

Karen Gee
Founder and Editor, Cycle Sprog


Do let me know if you need input into a less biased article into the boom in family cargo biking.

Kind regards

Before you go....

If you're cargo-curious then head over to our section on cargo bikes where we talk you through the various options.

And if £3,999 is too much of an upfront cost for your family, we've also been looking at bike trailers that cost less than two tanks of fuel which are a cost-effective way of carrying two younger children to nursery, preschool or primary school.


Daniella McManamon

Thanks for posting your response to the tone-deaf Guardian article of today.

It made me so angry to read such a judgmental piece, which completely fails to empathise with the families like mine who are choosing to use cargo bikes as a cheaper, and more enjoyable alternative to driving.

I certainly don’t belong to some affluent elite, I am a school teacher, with a mortgage and little disposable income, so a cargo bike was a long term investment (purchased through a cycle to work scheme) in lowering our outgoings.

I really hope that the Guardian publish your letter. I hope that they also realise the unfortunate part they played today in demonising cycling and therefore increasing the risks of road rage and dangerous driving that I encounter as a female cargo bike rider.


Thanks so much Daniella for taking the time to respond. I don’t usually respond to articles, but felt compelled to for this one, for all the reasons you mention. It’s such a shame that there’s not more articles explaining all the benefits – as you say it’s a cheaper alternative to driving – not an additional add on expenditure for the affluent elite. Karen

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