Are Cargo Bikes Going Mainstream?

A white father riding a cargo bike with two children in it.

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As a student, I spent a year living in Copenhagen. And I was amazed by how many people used cargo bikes as their primary source of transportation. From carting kids to school, to hauling groceries, to giving drunk friends a ride from the bar—heavy-duty load-carrying bikes were just another form of transportation for the people of this beautiful city. Could it be that the rest of the world is finally catching on to the potential of cargo bikes too?We already know from our own explorations on Treehugger that there's a huge diversity of extended-frame and load carrying bikes available around the world. And with the world-famous Christiania bikes now available in the US, it seems the time might just be right for a mainstream adoption of cargo bikes around the Globe.

Gareth Lennon over at The Guardian would seem to agree, telling us that cargo bike manufacturers are seeing increased sales far beyond traditional geographical strongholds like the Netherlands or Copenhagen. But, he says, for these vehicles to really bust out of their bike-messenger/delivery vehicle niche, one crucial issue needs to be tackled—weight.

Cargo Bikes Must Be Fun to Ride Too

A white woman on a blue cargo bike waiting to cross a road.

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While some folks may be happy using a heavy-duty bike for heavy-duty hauling, and keeping a lighter bike as a runaround, the majority of cyclists would like to know that their cargo bike also feels good to ride when it is empty. (After all, you don't always know when you are going to need to haul something heavier.) Fortunately, help is at hand here too in the form of the Bullitt—a Danish-built bike that also made Warren's list of 22 extended-frame cargo bikes:

"In order for your cargo bike to even stand a chance of becoming your default bike, it needs to be an attractive riding option - that means it must be relatively light. Sadly, most two-wheeled front loader cargo bikes up until a few years ago tended to tip the scales at a tiring 35 kilos, even when empty. Enter the Bullitt. Conceived a few years back by two Danish frame designers and introduced in 2008, it was the first mass-produced aluminium cargo frame. The fork is necessarily of steel, but it comes in at 20-24 kilos."

Cargo Bike Sales Rising Worldwide

A man rides a cargo bike on an urban street.

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Lennon, an owner of a Bullitt himself, reckons there are at least 50 of these things in Berlin alone where he lives. While exact numbers of cargo bike sales are hard to come by, Lennon reports that worldwide sales in 2008 were around 10,000—and that in Denmark alone there are about 5000 new cargo bikes hitting the streets each year.

The term tipping point seems strange to use with such sturdy machines, but it might just be that we have reached one.