Cargo Bikes Go Mainstream (PICTURES & VIDEOS)

Cargo bikes are of course like the swiss army knife of bicycling. But they are really so much cooler than that.

Bicycling, the most efficient (common) mode of transportation on the planet, is a super fun, simple, easy, and carefree transportation option. That (along with the fact that it doesn’t further heat up our planet) is why we love it. But millions of people get stumped all of a sudden when they want to move something big, or multiple things (or people), and think a bike simply can’t do it. Clearly, as the pics below show, bikes *can* do it! Cargo bikes, that is. And they still retain the simplicity and ease of your common bicycle, while probably even enhancing their fun and carefree aspects.

For this reason, as bicycling has become a more common mode of transport for common people, and as cargo bikes have crossed the eye of more such people, they have taken off in sales and proliferation.

Here’s an excerpt of a Wall Street Journal article further painting the picture:

ON A RECENT SUNDAY, Brandon Jones, a 44-year-old fund manager at 9W Capital Management, traveled from his home in downtown Manhattan with his wife and two children to meet friends for brunch in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They were heading to Reynard, the popular restaurant in the neighborhood’s fashionable Wythe Hotel, where Manhattan-bound Town Cars regularly idle on the street outside.

But Mr. Jones did not drive. Nor did he take the subway. Instead, he piloted his two children via the deck of his Yuba Mundo, a so-called “longtail” cargo bike. (His wife rode her own bike.) Picture a mountain bike, but with a stouter frame and smaller wheels, stretched out and lowered in the back. “We actually beat our friends who drove back to TriBeCa,” Mr. Jones said. While Mr. Jones does garage a BMW BMW.XE +6.03% X5 SUV, his car rarely sees daylight within the city limits. Rather, for daily trips like the mile-and-a-half commute from TriBeCa to his children’s school in Greenwich Village, he simply hops on another kind of SUV—one that actually includes a bit of sport.

Mr. Jones’s choice is becoming an increasingly popular one in the U.S. The country’s biggest seller of the Yuba Mundo is Joe Bike, a Portland, Ore., store specializing in “high-performance urban, utility and touring bikes.” The owner, Joe Doebele, said that when he began carrying cargo bikes—a catchall term covering a variety of bike styles built for functional hauling—five years ago, he thought they would be for just that, cargo. “But parents, mostly moms, were the ones who were buying them,” he said. “It quickly became a family bike.”

Mr. Doebele attributes the interest to Portland’s “mini baby boom” and the fact that many young families are choosing to stay in cities like Portland instead of moving to the suburbs—not to mention higher gas prices.

Then there’s the expansion of cycling’s popularity in the U.S., with most cities reporting double- or even triple-digit gains from 2005 to 2011, according to the League of American Bicyclists. New York and Chicago have launched new bike-share programs. Indianapolis and Atlanta have ambitious walking-and-biking networks, the former an 8-mile “Cultural Trail” (with a planned bike-share program to boot), the latter a 33-mile “BeltLine.” And according to People for Bikes, a Boulder, Colo.-based national advocacy group, the number of bike lanes built nationwide through its Green Lane project is expected to double this year to over 200 across multiple cities.

Indeed, there are numerous practical reasons for your family to get a cargo bike.

Naturally, in parts of the world where bicycling for transportation purposes is much more ubiquitous, cargo bikes are all over the place. As the video below about cargo bikes in Denmark notes, there are about 40,000 cargo bikes in the greater Copenhagen area. 6% of Copenhageners have a cargo bike, and 24% of families with 2 or more children have a cargo bike. 17% of those people use it as a replacement for a car, while many of the other people who own cargo bikes use it as a second car (well, probably all the rest of them).

Here are several pictures of a wide variety of cargo bikes and cargo bike uses for your viewing pleasure:

Credit: Zachary Shahan / Bikocity (CC BY-SA license)
Credit: Zachary Shahan / Bikocity (CC BY-SA license)
copenhagen cycling elderly
Credit: Cykling uden alder
cycling elderly cargo bikes copenhagen
Credit: Classic Copenhagen
Credit: otrocalpe (CC license)
Credit: otrocalpe (CC license)

Credit: Photochiel (CC license)
Credit: joefutrelle (CC license)
Credit: cleverchimp (CC license)
Credit: cleverchimp (CC license)
Credit: mandiberg (CC license)
Credit: cleverchimp (CC license)

with seatbelts…

Credit: cleverchimp (CC license)

with a baby seat…

Credit: mandiberg (CC license)

with a grown man…

Credit: cleverchimp (CC license)
Credit: ninnet (CC license)
Credit: dominiqueb (CC license)
Credit: natekoechley (CC license)
Credit: gruntzooki (CC license)
Credit: egorick (CC license)
Credit: John Pannell (CC license)

The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine. ~John Howard

Credit: John Pannell (CC license)
Credit: jessielein (CC license)

For further discussion of cargo bikes, especially cargo bikes in North America, check out the full WSJ post.

For review of various cargo bikes, check out this article.

For another article on the rise of the cargo bike, read: Cargo Bikes, Familes, Redefining Material Wisdom

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