If you want to live a ‘green’ lifestyle, or if you just like regular exercise, using your car less is an excellent idea. But we can’t walk everywhere, right? Ahat about those trips that require a car, like trips to the supermarket? For those who shop in industrial sizes and quantities, a car, maybe even a truck, is necessary. But at least one grocery store in southern Sweden is offering customer’s free use of a nifty ‘cargo bike’ (pictured above) to haul away their shopping. It’s actually a trike, with a gigantic bucket at the front, large enough to fit most anything. Think it’s not big enough? They’ve got an even bigger one:
What’s more, this supermarket, ‘Green Matmarknad’ (click here for a link – Swedish) appears to be giving customers a rebate of 10% for using their cargo bike! My Swedish is
a little rusty basically non-existent, but this sign seems to promise a discount for cargo-bikers. (If you speak Swedish, please confirm!!).
A short ride in a gleaming Scandinavian train across the beautiful Oresund Bridge, and we come across the mother-lode of cargo bikes: the Christiania Bikes workshop (click here for website). For over 30 years, these guys have been building cargo bikes to Danish standards:
Christiania is a famous / notorious place, a near-indescribable enclave of hippies, libertarians, and eco-warriors. A sign at the entrance states ‘You are now leaving the EU’ and marijuana is openly sold from kiosks around the commune. The place is regularly threatened with being closed down permanently. One of the quirks of the commune is that private cars are forbidden. Cargo bikes are therefore particularly in demand and are ‘exported’ throughout Denmark.
Here are two of the most popular styles: on the right, the cargo trike, similar to the one seen in the supermarket in Malmo. On the left, a long wheelbase two-wheel model:
Around the paths and rudimentary streets of Christiania, cargo bikes are everywhere. These guys test the limits of what can be transported by bicycle. Here is somebody hauling a keg of beer:
If you are thinking “well, that’s only a small keg”, then check out this machine, which appears to be designed for transporting two full-size kegs, or possibly furniture:
On re-entering the normal side of Copenhagen, loads of people can be seen using cargo bikes. What’s the most popular thing to transport in a cargo bike?? Children. All around the city, kids are being moved around using cargo bikes, and they seem quite at home here too. Smiling babies, or sometimes even sleeping babies can be seen hurtling down major streets in the basket of a cargo bike. Some cargo bikes even feature cushioned seats, canopies and safety belts for added comfort and security of passengers!
Could the use of cargo bikes catch on in Princeton? To some extent they are already here! Whole Earth Market owns a special bike trailer, which is used for transporting large quantities of food or supplies with zero carbon emissions. However, this is technically a trailer, not a true cargo bike. Princeton is not the best town for cycling; a lack of useful bike infrastructure has made cycling a niche activity. Cargo bikes are available in the US– in fact you can even get a Christiania cargo trike through Adeline Adeline in New York. Thinking outside the box, either the town of Princeton or owners of large apartment complexes could provide these kind of bikes on an hourly rental / loan program, to make it easy for Princeton residents to use them. Soon people might be saying ‘My Other Car is a Cargo Bike’!!
Would you ride a cargo bike? How practical do you think it would be to fit a week’s worth of groceries into one of these things? Leave a comment below!