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Kickbike as commute vehicle

I know that there aren't many kickbikes within the four walls of Australia. When I commute between home and the Brisbane CBD I'm unique.

I leave home and kick 500 metres to the railway station. When crossing by foot the major carriage way which comes off the Gateway Arterial -- I can easily lift the 10 kgm of bike onto the narrow cement strip that divides the lanes -- three on each side -- from each other.

I scoot down the side street, push the kickbike up the steep ramp, either join the platform via the lift or stairs and board a city bound train .

The kickbike is better than a bicycle in the carriage because it has no peddles that stick out forcing people to walk further around my commuting personal space --whether I stand holding it in front of the sliding doors or rest it against my leg while I'm seated.

The 'stand' is handy too for free hands rail traveling.

When I get to Central railway station the fun begins. Q-Rail has offered the traveling public a narrow box lift with only one door. So bikes and wheel chairs have to reverse out the way the came in. Since many people use the lift any transport hardware is a squeeze. So if I'm not loaded with gear I use the stairs -- one hand just below the handle bars and I port the kickbike either up or down to one or other of the exits.

But one stair case has a ticket check-out so QRail has assumed that no wheel chair will use it. So the stalls are a bit narrow to negotiate and it's a squeeze to fit yourself and the kickbike through them as you exit. It would be harder with a bicycle given the peddle appendages. You can carry the kickbike above the stalls though. Very macho.

Kicking and walking tall

Once among the CBD throng I selectively kick my way on road or pavement. The beauty of the kickbike in CBD territory is that you can get on and off so easily -- alternating between biker and walker as preference dictates. It's like changing hats or roles --and even in pavements with a lot of foot traffic you have complete control of the vehicle as stop means stop -- you don't stop and wobble or have to lean left or right as you dismount or support a stationary bike. With the kickbike one hop will do it.

Around town there are dedicated bike racks and free range racks such as lamp posts, trees, and such. I've never seen a kickbike among any one of them. Not even a scooter.

I guess I'm one of very few kickbike commuters

(as the vehicle is usually deployed as a exercise and cross training tool often only for weekend use. Also because you have to work harder to get from A to B it means that you need to get hotter and expend more energy getting from A to B. So when you arrive -- at work say -- you have expended and sweated more than you would have if you'd ridden a Malvern Star, Peugeot or Raleigh).
Securing the kickbike

I aspire to the security grapple as pictured above left. I'll take a photo and share it here of my knotwork -- but it isn't simple to secure a kickbike. The small back wheel is a challenge -- so you need to deploy cable.

Since I have a carry frame atop my front wheel(for my panniers) I attach my cable to that all the time so it's always on hand. Instead of one lock I use two padlocks (one at each cable end)and lock one end firmly around the back wheel and the other -- after twining hither and yon through the frame and front wheel (like the orange looping in the diagram)-- around the bike rack, tree or lamp post.

I should also carry and use a U lock too(red in the image) but I've yet to find a way to put it on the kickbike as an everyday accessory.

I think the kickbike could do with a loop -- perhaps at the back of the footboard -- which can be used to securely lock the back wheel to the frame. At the moment its' a security weakness because while the front wheel is a bicycle standard, the small back one is a custom built for kickbikes. Lose that and you're grounded.

I have to also find an easy way to lock my panniers to the bike! (I'm working on it!)

Kickbike hassles

Despite evident advantages with kickbike commuting there are two drawbacks.
  1. Gutters and traffic calming ridges are a pain. When you mount a pavement from the road or visa versa you can scrape the frame underneath. You have to learn to judge your clearance and quickly get off and maybe lift the kickbike when you traverse road to path or path to road medium. Neighborhood traffic calming speed bumps are similarly frustrating. (Often though you can skirt around them via the gutter).
  2. If you are bought up to do hand signals -- say in a negotiating a right hand turn -- you are a brave one indeed to do so while leaving only one hand on the handle bars while turning or often simply traveling. The rear wheel is not a very good guide wheel and its hard to control the kickbike with one hand -- especially a weak 'left' hand. As for stopping while signaling -- forget it! -- you'll come a cropper. So don't assume that you can do the signal thing while in traffic.
Shopping with the kickbike

Since I added my panniers I find that I can do a good grocery shop on the kickbike. If I also wear a knapsack I can carry quite a few kilograms of shopping and at least 5 litres per bag -- each pannier and the knapsack. You have to take care that you don't over weigh the kickbike as the frame is sure to have its stress points. (The Kickbike has been dynamically tested with 120 kg weight on the foot board by a special testing machine simulating rough road use..) I find that pushing the kickbike while walking along side is OK transit activity if I'm weighed up big timer.

But remember -- there's a safe limit to weight bearing.


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