From the heavy-hauling B-Line electric trikes that can carry up to 600 pounds of goods from site to site in a city, to volunteers using their cargo bikes to deliver many bags and pounds of foods to folks in need, cargo bikes are getting more deserved recognition for their ability to take cars and trucks out of the traffic stream. Which makes cities better.
A recent Outside magazine article called cargo bikes the new station wagon, but actually, cargo bikes are much more nimble and multi-talented than the big and bulky station wagons of old. And they are very CO2-lite to boot. (They are also great disaster relief vehicles!)
The deepening of the cargo bike trend is due to a couple of factors. One is the ability of basic cargo bikes to be more versatile and climb hills due to the addition of an electric motor that allows both for a little extra oomph on inclines. In some cases, a throttle also lets a cyclist with a heavy load take off from standing still without difficulty.
The second factor propelling cargo biking is that of critical mass. With more cyclists choosing a cargo bike in order to haul stuff or haul kids, there's now more of a collective voice to answer questions and devise solutions to common cargo hauling and kid hauling problems.
The volunteer bikers of the Southeast Portland Food Project are a great example of citizen cargo cycling.
The Southeast Portland Food Project collects donated food from residents every other month, and then takes those donations to a warehouse, where they are packaged and redistributed to folks who need them. Not only is the Project an ongoing feel-good venture, it's the perfect city function that can and should be accomplished by cargo bikes.
Thus far, the most popular cargo bikes for cyclists wanting a bit more hauling power or kid-carrying capacity have been the Yuba Mundo and the Boda Boda (also from Yuba), the Bullitt, cargo bikes created with the Xtracycle extender, and the good old Dutch Bakfiets and Long John. Especially with the addition of an electric assist, new players are entering the market.
Is a cargo bike in your future?