We believe that what some call a "cyclist", is actually just a normal person who happens to on a bike when it suits them. As such, each week we're highlighting someone who goes around their day-to-day via pedal power.
This week on LifeOnABike, we're introducing you to Lydia Maxwell, founder of DogBoxx. Yes, it's the LifeOnABike, dog edition!
Photo credit to Honor Elliot at @dogsbybike
How long have you been using a cargo bike?
I was bored and grumpy during lockdown (weren't we all) working from home on reduced hours. A friend of mine used a cargo bike for her dogwalking business and referred a few lockdown pups to me. I got a second hand Christiania Straight Box in the June of 2021. By the October of that year I was doing two walks a day with 4-6 dogs per walk and so I bought a new, electric version. It felt like flying at first!
What were you using before?
My lovely, reliable 1957 Raleigh Triumph, which I still have but am not using enough now.
What made you consider a cargo bike?
My friend's recommendation made me seriously consider the possibilities. It means I can pick up 6 dogs in half an hour and then we can spend a full hour running in the park. Some of the little or old dogs would never be able to walk that far.
What’s the best thing about it?
Being outside and with dogs all day is fab. The looks on people's faces as you pass them with a cargo bike full of dogs is priceless.
And the worst thing?
There have been a few wet days that have got me down. People stepping into the bike lane without looking is pretty scary. Also last year someone put a load of drawing pins in the bike lane and I had three punctures in a week. That was a low point.
What advice would you give to others starting out?
Build up gradually. I found it overwhelming at first trying to juggle the feel of the new bike, having to think more about dropped curbs and narrow gates, plus all the demands of the dogs, keys, leads, locks.
Any anything else you’d like to add?
Using the bike has made me more aware of the challenges facing a wheelchair user. My bike is as wide as a standard wheelchair and needs dropped curbs. There are so many pinch points around Southwark that make it hard for me but impossible for a wheelchair user.
I got married last year and we arrived at the venue on cargo bikes. It was a great way to make an entrance. Our dog was with us of course!
And what are your future plans for DogBoxx?
This spring marks the next big step for DogBoxx; I've got a second electric Christiania on order and a new employee starting this week. This will mean more space for the growing number of dogs who like to run in Southwark park and a job for a local young person.
I was lucky enough to receive some funding for the new bike from Team London Bridge, which has made it all possible.
Thank you to Lydia for taking the time to chat with us. We love Lydia's story and think it's another great example of how utilising bikes enhances already great work. And while Dogboxx is explicitly a business based on bikes, Lydia isn't an example of what is currently depicted of as a "cyclist". Yes, Lydia uses bikes for work - but she isn't defined by speed, competitiveness or lycra, instead it's the joy living out her day to day via pedal power.
Want to check out more of Lydia's work? Follow DogBoxx on Instagram and view their website here.