When I wrote about an open-source cargo bike for a city of hills, I suggested that load-hauling bicycles were getting popular just about everywhere. Some commenters objected to my hyperbole, but it certainly seems true that cargo bikes are undergoing a major revival in many corners of the world.
A few short years ago you'd rarely see cargo bikes outside of world-class cycling cities like Copenhagen or Amsterdam, but that's changing rapidly. My recent unpleasant experience of driving in Helsinki contrasted starkly with the happy families zipping about on Christiania bikes, and even in Durham, NC, when I load the kids onto a bike-trailer to get to the farmers' market, the chances are good that I'll see a few ELFs, a Yuba and a good few bike trailers on the road too.
Now the BBC is taking note of the cargo bike revival, and their overview of this exciting trend includes a few very cool tidbits:- 25% of families with two or more children in Copenhagen, Denmark, own a cargo bike.
- DHL recently replaced 33 trucks with 33 cargo bikes in the Netherlands, saving about $575,000 annually.
- UPS is testing cargo bikes in select European cities.
- Riders for B-Line, a Portland-based sustainable urban delivery company, covered 32,000 miles last year on their eight freight trikes.
Whether it's a Brooklyn Whole Foods or an LA grocery delivery service bringing food by cargo bike, the German government's backing for bike-based freight haulage or cargo bike enthusiasts providing an airport shuttle service in Rio, there are plenty more stories that didn't make it into the BBC piece.
Of course none of this really proves that cargo bikes are getting popular everywhere, but it's fair to say they are an increasingly common phenomenon in dense urban environments. As forward-thinking cities continue to become more bike-friendly, I would not be surprised to see that trend continue.