The growing popularity of bicycles these days is remarkable, and also not surprising. Biking is healthy, environmentally friendly, highly convenient and most of all, affordable. But which way will technology take the two wheeler?
It is human nature to want to perfect something that appears to be popular. As soon as more people start expressing interest, regardless of the reason, the technology starts developing so fast, that in no time at all it only remotely resembles its original. Take mobile phones, electronics, cars, even computer games, all these are great examples.
This is why I decided to talk about something quite out of the ordinary, and that is the cargo bike and how it stands against the latest super fancy smart bicycles.
Over the past few years, there is an increasing trend among the designers, engineers and inventors to make electric bikes that are much faster than the conventional ones with pedals, or smart bikes that are connected to phones and do all sorts of things, the latest one even has a vibrating seat to warn the rider if a car is driving closely. It is all well and good, and of course it was expected to go this way, but all these improvements and new technologies somehow defeat the whole idea.
Bicycles are a cheap mode of transport, but not if they are smarter than the rider, have super powers or have an engine more powerful than a diesel SUV. Furthermore, bicycles encourage healthy living, but only if the rider pedals around, not if it is all electric. Yet, many still assume that the new technology will make bikes a more desired mode of transport. Well, they might be right, but are they?
There is no better place to observe trends in biking, than the example country of bikes, the Netherlands. There, it is actually fascinating to see a mother with two kids and weekly grocery shopping on one bike, holding an umbrella with one hand, indicating directions with the other, somehow managing to hold her skirt in place and singing a kids song so that the little ones are entertained. Similarly, it is very common to see elderly citizens biking around faster than their grand children, maintaining a perfect health in their late 80s.
But an increasing trend around there is the use of cargo bikes. Many families, now not talking only about the Netherlands, but extending this over to Germany, Denmark, even the UK, own a cargo bike that can transport everyone and everything in a much safer manner. In fact, there are even statistics from the European Cycle Logistics Federation indicating that every forth four-members family has one of these in the garage.
What is more, many delivery companies are now starting to use cargo bikes, while city officials encourage this in order to deal with traffic congestion and pollution. And there is really no surprise here- cargo bikes are simply a great, very convenient and extremely useful mode of transport. Even major retailers are now selling them, right next to the regular bikes, although most of the cargo bikes I have seen in the Netherlands are simply a DIY improvement of the conventional two wheeler (here is a short tutorial how to do it).
But, does this mean that all these fancy electric, magical, smart and incredible bikes with super powers are simply a waste? Maybe. In fact, following the users comments under pieces that present the latest smart bicycle that often comes with a four-five digit price tag, I can safely conclude that people do not seem to eager to buy them.
Time will show, which models and versions will represent our future. It might well be that some years from now we all speak about the two-wheelers in a way we now talk about the cassettes with our favorite music taped from the radio station with the DJ talking over it. But for now, thumbs up for the cargo bike.
Image (c) Daily Mail