From the moment I first saw the Madsen website, I knew I had to have one. I’m a single mom of three, and I’d been looking for a way to safely bike with three small children for quite awhile. My friend Gemma, who lives a car-free existence with three kids in the bike mecca that is Portland, Oregon, sent me a link to the Madsen website with a note attached, “This is what you need!”– and boy was she right.
I was enchanted by the idea of hauling up to four kids on two bench seats within the frame of the bike, rather than towing them behind. Madsen is a Portland-based company that is using the Dutch Bakfiets model of “bucket bikes” to make the SUV of bikes for Americans.
My path to Madsen ownership wasn’t a short one. But when ours finally arrived a few weeks ago, it was beyond love at first sight. The bike is amazing. It’s everything I hoped it would be and more. Beyond being comfortable and easy to ride, our Madsen represents freedom to me in terms of my ability to ditch the car and hit the trail with three boys under the age of 6 in a safe way.
For me, biking is an important metaphor for life. With effort, and under one’s own direction, the path lies straight ahead. I want my boys to know that the car is not the only way to travel, that this town is set up for bikes, and that while it requires energy to travel, we have the power to use our own energy for efficient transportation. Plus, biking is FUN and a great form of family exercise. We live close to the B-Line and it’s a pretty easy zip down the trail to school, BloomingFoods, Farmers’ Market and WonderLab. It’s also a pretty easy ride to Bryan Park, Chocolate Moose, and the library. In addition to hauling kids, our Madsen–which my boys and I have named BeBe–is a great grocery hauler. The bench seats are removable and the bucket is 40 gallons. The possibilities for transportation of goods is pretty boundless.
Perhaps the biggest benefit that BeBe has afforded us is something I couldn’t have identified beforehand. The boys are learning the importance of sharing and community in a truly profound and visceral way. Because I would like nothing better than to see a fleet of Madsen’s in town, I have offered the bike to everyone and anyone to take for a spin. Initially the boys didn’t want anyone else to ride the bike. Now they eagerly ask people to ride it and enjoy the look on their faces when they can see how much it is universally enjoyed and appreciated. And because we are now daily bike commuters to school, we pass the same people en route to their jobs, school, or out for regular exercise. That sense of recognition, that other people are doing as we are, is an important part of their self-identification. It’s fostered numerous conversations as we cruise.
I’m infinitely grateful for our Madsen. The boys are quick converts to the cycling way of life. They don’t want to take the car anywhere anymore. I couldn’t ask for anything more than time spent together, out in nature, using our bodies and getting where we need to go.