Howard County has a lot to offer in terms of health and education for kids and families, but what if you combine the two and add a set of wheels? Well, you get the FruitBicycle!
The HoCo community has been greatly enriched by a cargo bike carrying local and organic fruit snacks.What if there were more FruitBicycles?
The FruitBicycle is an environmentally friendly means of providing healthy organic fruit snacks to Howard County, MD residents and guests. The bicycle visits parks, paths, sport meets, and special events in the community and offers a healthy alternative to the junk food usually found at outdoor venues.
Luda Bard, who runs the program, says: ‘The more FruitBicycles there are, the greater the chance you will discover and enjoy one at your son’s swim meet, daughter’s soccer practice, or when you’re just out and about in Columbia or Ellicott City.
‘With your help, we will turn one FruitBicycle into two or three over the winter. The fleet of FruitBicycles that will emerge this spring, will better serve our community and provide the income required to sustain the FruitBicycle business. Our project has an initial goal sufficient to fund the building of two more FruitBicycles and their associated equipment.’
Luda came up with the idea when she realised there was no healthy alternative when she was out with her kids. ‘We are a Howard County, MD family of five that loves to hop on our bikes and ride the Columbia pathways to the farmers’ market, the library, or to the lake for an evening concert. When we get there, we pull out some snacks and, because some of our kids have food allergies, that means fruit.
At one concert in the park, we were all munching on fresh fruit, when someone jokingly asked us if we had brought enough for everyone. We thought: “Why not bring enough for everyone?” We set to work building a bicycle for carrying loads of fruit, and capable of bringing fun and healthy snacks to everyone.’
The bicycle and fruit box were chosen and designed specifically for use on park paths. To keep the weight low, we constructed the fruit box out of an aerospace honeycomb composite. The width of the fruit box is approximately 24″, which is narrower than a mountain bike’s handlebars and perfectly suitable for typical bike paths. Aerospace shock isolators support the box on the Xtracycle bicycle frame and ensure a soft ride for the fruit cargo. The graphics on the fruit box are weather and UV resistant and will retain a clean look for many years. We also equipped the bicycle with a heavy-duty center-stand that provides a stable platform while dismounting the bike to sell fruit. Lastly, a handlebar mounted GoPro camera takes time laps photos of our adventures. The FruitBicycle is safe, stable, and non-intrusive.
Luda says that the Fruit Bicycle has a clear mission. “Firstly, it’s about healthy organic snacks. We make healthy organic fruits available at Howard County venues to families looking for healthy snacks at events. This includes people who have food allergies, are vegan, vegetarian, or keep Kosher. Our presence also encourages families to bring their own healthy snacks to events. Secondly, we are community building. FruitBicycle promotes the pathway structure throughout Columbia MD, and the healthy lifestyle that can be achieved in our community. In seeing the FruitBicycle arrive at an event, residents are reminded that they too can use pathways to walk or ride to numerous venues. More kids have headed out to Columbia’s open spaces, inspired by, or in hope of seeing the FruitBicycle. Finally, it’s about education. We are educating Howard County residents and guests about a healthy lifestyle. In addition to providing a good example of an active lifestyle, we speak to customers and onlookers about the health benefits of fruits and bicycling. We are arranging local school visits to show off the FruitBicycle and talk to children about health and fitness.”
You can get involved in the FruitBicycle project and earn rewards by visiting this site.
Claire Bolden McGill is a British expat who lived in Maryland for three years and moved back to the UK in August 2015. Claire wrote about her life as a British expat on the East Coast and now works in travel and hospitality PR in the UK. She still finds time to blog about her repatriation and the reverse culture shock that ensued – and she still hasn’t finished that novel, but she’s working on it. You can contact Claire via twitter on @clairebmcgill or via her blog From America to England.