When I was researching urban cargo bikes and trikes in considering Jon’s Christmas gift this year, I ran across some extremely cool ways that bikes and three wheelers are being built and modified to be super useful in the city.
For example, check out Kate Winslet’s three wheeler, below, modified by George Bliss at Hudson Urban Cycles. She carts her two kids around NYC in it.
Here’s another view of one of Mr. Bliss’s retrofitted cargo trikes. Isn’t that nifty?
I also ran across some very neat Dutch & Dutch-inspired versions of family cargo bikes. These come in both long and short versions, some with two wheels and others with three, and they are called “bakfiets” (which I understand just means “box bike”). The various types of bakfietsen*** are apparently becoming more and more popular with urban families who are looking to use a car less, or not at all.
Here’s a great write-up from a fella in Richmond, Virginia on how he and his wife use their bakfiets, as well as another cargo bike they own. Doesn’t that seem like a great way to get kids from point A to B instead of dealing with the hassle0getting them in and out of a car?
And here’s some info from Eva of CoolMomPicks on two brands of three wheeled bakfietsen now being sold in the U.S.: the Christiana and the Nihola.
This is the Christiana Boxcycle Trike.
And here is Nihola’s version of a three wheel family cargo bakfiets (with optional cover.)
Obviously, all of these bakfietsen are much spendier than the basic Schwinn Meridian that I just got Jon, which in its unadorned, basic state looks like this.
However, the frame on this thing is insanely sturdy and well made, and it’s also very large, with a very big cargo basket already on the back. Because it’s broad and heavy, it’s also extremely stable, and almost impossible to tip over without major effort. So what if a family wanting a more budget friendly version of a “real” cargo trike had a basic Schwinn like this retrofitted in various ways? I’m betting, for example, that you could get the right craftsperson to rework the basic Schwinn three wheeler into something sort of like the much higher-end, custom ones being created by Hudson Urban Bicycles.
Like this one from H.U.B.
Or you could get the front end of the thing reconfigured with some metal and woodwork to accommodate front cargo, like this two wheeled, long bakfiets has.
(Here’s one homemade version of a cargo bakfiets that I ran across online, although this clever guy was more interested in creating something to transport stuff rather than human offspring. Pretty ingenious DIY job, if you ask me.)
Jon and I are thinking about the possibilities for safely hauling kids and stuff around town, car-free, but as you can see, G already has her own idea of how she’d like to be transported. We are trying to break it to her gently that this particular mode of child-loose-in-rear-basket travel won’t be happening. But maybe if we added a Dutch-style box for her… Hmmm….
Do any of y’all have/use a bakfiets or other cargo bike/trike of any type? Or have you ever tried one out? Do you ever see them around town where you live? (We’ve had no sightings in the wild yet here in Knoxville). Would you ever consider using one for some or all of your family’s city transport? If you do bike with young children but have a more traditional bike, do you use a pull trailer like the Burley? What would you say the pros and cons of using a kid-trailer are?
I would love to hear what other parents think of the idea of using pedal-power for family transportation. (And if you think that you have too many kids to consider the idea, just check out this AMAZING biking-mama of six, riding her large family-modified bakfiets around the streets of Portland!)
ADDENDUM: Thanks to a Facebook pal, I was just pointed in the direction of these fantastic looking Madsen family cargo bikes, which look like a much more affordable and possibly much more durable (plastic boxes for kid-sitting rather than gorgeous wood ones) type of bakfietsen for typical American families. Madsen doesn’t seem to have a three wheeled version, though. I wonder if one of their nifty looking kid-hauling boxes could be affixed to some other kind of bike, like, say a Schwinn?
Other cargo bike stuff online:
- A very nice DIY bakfiets project.
- Gorgeous bakfietsen (for both human and non-human cargo) from a small, brand new, American company called Metrofiets. These bikes almost look too pretty to use!
If anyone else knows of a great family cargo bike brand or type that I should add to my blog post, let me know in the comments and I will check it out. Thanks! – Katie
***Thank you very much to reader Pascale for helping me properly pluralize the singular “bakfiets!