If you’re looking for a carbon neutral way to haul your gear—whether it’s a bag of potting soil or a keg of beer—it’s hard to beat a cargo bike. They’re great for grocery runs or taking the kids to school, and are increasingly being used to make commercial deliveries in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and even the U.S.
Cargo bikes come in many forms, ranging from “longtails” that have an extra-long wheelbase and cargo deck in the rear, to “long johns” or bakfiets (“box bikes”) that carry a wheelbarrow-like box up front between the handlebars and front wheel.
Many of these bikes can haul more than 400 pounds of gear, and some newer models even have electric pedal-assist motors to help riders deal with hills, wind and other factors that can make riding difficult.
Cargo bikes, however, do have one significant downside—they are pricey. A typical cargo bike can cost anywhere from $1,000 to more than $6,000.
To help increase access to cargo bikes, the Swiss nonprofit Mobility Academy launched an electric cargo bikesharing pilot project, Carvelo2go, in 2015. The service is currently operating at more than 100 locations in 19 cities throughout Switzerland, and offers users a wide variety of bike models from which riders can choose.
Carvelo2go is relatively low-tech compared with app- or dock-based bikesharing—members rent electric-powered cargo bikes by either the hour or the day, and pick them up and return them at host sites such as bike shops and eco-friendly cafes. It’s still an interesting concept, however, and could be an effective way to introduce more people to cargo bikes.
While we’re not likely to see an all-cargo bikeshare system in the U.S. anytime soon, we did notice that peer-to-peer bikesharing service Spinlister offers a few cargo bike options. A quick glance at SUMC’s hometown of Chicago revealed listings for a Christiania cargo trike, a sporty-looking Xtracycle EdgeRunner and more.
So, the next time you need to grab groceries for the week or pick up your nephews from pre-K, why not try a cargo bike?
Image credit: Mobility Academy