Cargo Bikes…..an update
You may recall that, on my return last November from Amsterdam, and the subsequent flushing of Heineken from my system, I posted an article about Dutch bikes, and in particular the Bakfiets Cargobike. Now, were I to have the funds, not to mention space in my garage, I should very much like to own such a beast. But it has recently struck me, in an article on the blog of a fellow Thorn owner, that such machines are also now available Stateside.
I have always considered Americans to be, largely, in love with the motor car. They give off the outward impression of being red-meat-eating, petrol-fume-inhaling car lovers who will happily drive their V8 powered pick up truck 100 yards to the liquor store rather than risk walking, the fear being that they would be labelled a prissy Commie should they countenance such an option. But I am encourgaed.
In order to be the tape that splices the two previous, and apparently unlinked paragraphs together into something resembling a coherent musing, I should mention that what has inspired me to write is the fact that stereotypes do not generally hold water. Such it is that I am posting an article about an American cargo bike – and a damned good one, by the looks of it.
The CETMA Cargo Bike is the machine. It is manufactured by a small company with limited resources, but is a fantastic multipurpose bike with the same essential design as the Bakfiets bike shown above.
There is a range of neat accessories available which makes it capable of an awful lot of tasks where a car may have previously been needed.
As you can see from the picture left, the lady riding this particular CETMA is happy because she has a boot-sized holder attached to her bike and can do the entire week’s shopping by human power – a truly cool idea. Indeed, we are led to believe that this haul includes a 40 pound bag of dog food and a watermelon, amongst other things. No wonder, then, that she is smiling. But this is a serious point – CETMA have set themselves up with a truly admirable, yet challenging purpose. In suburban American there must be literally millions of people living in easy reach of a lot of their amenities; these bikes would replace the car in many of those situations. Transporting two children around town, moving rubbish to the tip; all these things are easy on a cargo bike. If you were in the US government and you were serious about trying to tackle the mountainous obesity problems in America, wouldn’t you make one of these free to every family? It’s a no-brainer!
I really hope that these things begin to catch on. Cargo bikes are an answer to so many problems – and not just in the States but everywhere.
Urban deliveries, where traffic is choking up the roads? Sail past them with a bike. You have the space to rig up all sorts of load containers.
The other option of course, especially if you have a decent bike already (not a carbon-framed racer, obviously….) is to get the Family Van Kit from xtracycle (see above). This, in essence, is a kit which bolts on to the back chainstays of a standard bike and gives you a massive load-carrying chassis to which you can strap bags, seats, etc, but all the load is at the back as opposed to the front-loading CETMA/Bakfiets. A cool idea and a bit cheaper if you have a donor bike already – a sort of DIY Surly Big Dummy.