Whether you're intentionally trying to become car-free or you're committed to bikes for their versatility, health benefits, and low overall cost (monetary, environmental, and psychic), the following, simple approach will help you organize your energies toward assembling your own stable of pedal-powered equipment that gives you maximum versatility and enjoyment. Don't forget that accessories, appropriate clothing, and other add-ons make all the difference in expressing your personal style.
You can handle nearly every transportation situation with three pieces of equipment: a nimble city bike, a capable bicycle trailer, and a high-capacity cargo bike. I'm not suggesting everyone can run to the bike shop and buy all three of these wonderful machines at once, but if you set you mind to accumulating them over time you won't be left wanting for a better solution.
If you normally need to carry groceries, kids, large or heavy documents, gardening supplies, or the like, your daily rig should be a cargo bike of substantial capacity. Either a long john or long tail style will do, depending on your preference and budget. Typically long tails are less expensive than long johns, but each has its technical advantages and limitations. We are always happy to discuss the details of your specific cycling needs with you.
Because few of us are always carting a big payload, some of the time you may want to get around town on something lighter and nimbler. A good, lightweight bike with fenders (keeps you clean), a lighting system (keeps you seen), and internal hub gears (neat-o keen!) is the best combination of reliability, versatility, and speed. When you hook up your trailer to your lightweight town bike you magnify your cargo capacity two to ten times over, depending on the trailer.
Search the web and you'll find dozens of trailer designs and construction methods. It might make you delirious, but you have to start somewhere, which is why we recommend something readily available like those from Surly or B.O.B. If you find your trailering needs become more specific and detailed over time, we are happy to work with you to develop, build, and customize equipment to suit.