Inspiring stories about cargo bikes.
A CoBiUM STORY
For the past two years, the municipal library in Griefswald, Germany, has been using a cargo bike to transport boxes full of books to almost all the kindergartens of the city. They also organized a regular exchange of books amongst the kindergartens.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, the library also used the cargo bike for delivery services to their borrowers.
This year they put together a special offer for St Nicholas Day.
“We decided to assemble book packages on different topics”, says Anja Mirasch, the director of the library. “Categories ranged from ‘Tales and Legends’ to packages of family films. We lovingly wrapped each one and sent them along with our greetings, to make St Nicholas Day something extra special for our readers. As of today we have received 65 orders for these packages. We have also already gotten feedback suggesting that we take our time during the deliveries because the children would like to sing.”
Anja Mirasch has plans for making even greater use of the cargo bike for her library.
“Apart from the regular delivery service of books to borrowers and the boxes for the kindergartens, we also plan to deliver book boxes to facilities for seniors in our city”, says Anja.
Another idea is to use the cargo bike to bring books to districts a bit further away from the library, which is located in the city centre, in response to book lovers who cannot afford to use the bus regularly.
A CoBiUM STORY
For one year, 126 families have tested whether a cargo bike pool can replace shorter car trips. They found that they could share the three bikes in the pool, provided there is co-ordination and good will. The families live in Engdraget, which is a sustainable residential area in Slagelse and the electric bicycles are part of Slagelse Municipality's pilot project undertaken with the help of CoBiUM. In the pilot project, we investigated how we can replace car transport with cargo bikes and reap environmental and health benefits.
Need to take the kids to the playground, go shopping, or take in a movie? These are some of the many uses where a bike can be preferable to a car.
“It has been entirely up to the families themselves to decide what they would use the bikes for. The most important thing for us was to see whether sharing bikes could replace some of the shorter car trips. So instead of putting the children in the back seat, they get on the cargo bike, and both children and parents can enjoy a healthy ride with wind in their hair. We are happy that both Slagelse Boligselskab housing company and the families agreed to be part of the pilot project”, says Finn Vedel Pedersen, development consultant for the Slagelse Municipality.
Peter Weisbjerg Rasmussen, who lives in Engdraget, has the overall responsibility for the bikes, and he has made sure that the cargo bikes can be booked through a free app that the 126 families can access.
“Not only are these bikes popular, sometimes, they are too popular. Almost every day, all three bikes are being used. Now, of course, we are facing a colder season, so we are eager to see whether the interest lasts, because naturally, competition for the bikes is most heated in fair weather. But for many, the rides may have become a regular part of everyday life to a greater or lesser degree, so they will still get in the saddle even when temperatures drop”, says Peter Weisbjerg Rasmussen.
“We know many good reasons why we should use the bike for short trips rather than drive, such as improved health, better climate and more sustainable cities, but we can always use some reminders. The cargo bikes are a practical, enjoyable, and unique way of transporting yourself and your family. In addition, we hope that encouraging the residents of Engdraget to take more green trips will inspire more residents of the municipality to consider other sharing schemes and more environmentally friendly short trips”, says Jørgen Grüner, the Chairman of the Environment, Planning and Rural Affairs Committee.
A CoBiUM STORY
Lara gets lots of attention as she drives her new cargo bike through the city of Greifswald. After having driven it for more than 100 kilometres, Lara feels comfortable and has lots of fun riding her bike and getting into conversations about it while parking in different spots.
“People are often curious and ask me questions or at least greet me with a smile,” says Lara.
It all started when Lara Schulze first read in the local newspaper about the La.Ra free rental cargo bike service offered by the University of Greifswald,. After trying the available cargo bikes, she was immediately fascinated by their new possibilities and positive experiences for her family. Riding a cargo bike combines usefulness and fun, except on rainy and windy weather when a cover for the children is essential.
She and her husband found it easy to decide to buy a cargo bike for her family, but not so easy to find the right bike. They tried many different models and finally fell in love with an electric 3-wheeled turquoise Bakfiets equipped with a wooden box. After several months of waiting for their cargo bike to be delivered, they now use it nearly daily to bring both kids to the kindergarten, for grocery shopping or even for going to the nearby beach during summer months. Since then, the family uses the car only for long-distance travel.
The bike became a great source of enjoyment in Lara and her family’s life and a hit amongst her circle of friends. Lara would like to see the whole city become a car-free zone.
“For young, sporty, and courageous people, a cargo bike is the perfect way to get around in the city,” says Lara who hopes that more persons take notice and join her.
A CoBiUM STORY
Tino and Susanne Nilolai of Greifswald got a huge surprise on their wedding day, 8 August 2020 when Matthias, a good friend of theirs, picked them up at their home and drove them to their wedding at City Hall in a rickshaw. He learned about renting the rickshaw in an article in the local newspaper. Tino had grown up close to Greifswald and Susanne had just moved there from the south of Germany, last year. After knowing each other for several years, they moved in together and decided to get married.
“We were very happy about the surprise Matthias gave us”, Susanne declared. “The rickshaw is very special and besides, it’s a truly ecological way to travel. So it fit in perfectly with our little wedding. It was very comfortable and we felt special, being driven this way through the city. We enjoyed the view and the fresh air, and it was lots of fun. The fact that Matthias and his wife decorated the cargo-bike in such a lovely way, made our special day even more special”.
A CoBiUM STORY
With its motto that “animal welfare is not just about how you treat animals, but also means protecting our climate”, and with ecology as a guiding principle, it is only natural that the animal rescue association of Greifswald, Germany, wanted a cargo-bike This is especially true from May to October, when animals rear their young and the animal rescue association gets calls daily throughout the region from persons who found an injured mammal or bird, from the police who need someone to take care of a wounded dog, from those who find a wild animal who likes their home so much, he doesn’t want to leave, or about a cat or dog locked inside the flat of a person who is in hospital.
With only one car at its disposal, the association could not meet all these demands. Now, supplemented by a cargo bike, the association now has a second way to answer these calls, as well as to buy food or first aid materials for delivery to individuals, the local zoo, and veterinarians, as well as to transport donations like dog food to where these are needed. When they drive to rescue animals, they put all the equipment, as well as an animal transport box, inside the cargo bike.
While driving the bike, Anja Hübner, a member of the association, is always surprised at how many people ask her questions like “Where can I buy a bike like that” ? or “How does it feel to drive it?”. Interest in the bicycle leads to interest in the animal rescue association, so it’s a perfect win-win situation. “People really like it; they even recognize it as I drive through the city. I guess it’s a real eye-catcher”. Anja hopes that in the future, “as much transport as possible will be performed by cargo-bikes or maybe we can even share ours during low season with the humane society.”
A CoBiUM STORY
Since April 2020, the local makerspace uses a cargo bike financed by the CoBiUM project for transporting their goods. It all started with the idea of printing 3D visors at the makerspace workshops and distributing to hospitals and medical offices all over the city using a cargo bike, during the COVID-19 crisis.
The success of these efforts gave rise to two related developments. First, Ernst Heil, the owner and founder of makerspace, bought his own cargo bike for his bar, “Huschecke”, to transport all kinds of beverage purchases. In addition, the members of makerspace used their cargo bike to arrange their daily transport in a sustainable way. The makerspace bike is a non-electric driven Bullitt and can therefore can only be carry up to 50 kg. Despite this, they use it to drive all the way from their place to the local hardware store to buy paint (for the artists of the urban art festival to paint the front of the workshop hall) and tools for renovation of the workshop halls and their daily work. The 27 members of makerspace are now considering an online booking system and a key box for their bike to make the handover process for all members more comfortable.
Ernst uses his own bike instead of a car and he is more than happy with the Urban Arrow L. He drives mostly within the city to buy all sorts of things for his bar, like several beer crates and cartons of liquor. He is even considering buying a trailer for the bike to increase transport volume. The only things he really misses are a blinker and a camera in front of the bike to make his daily street navigating easier. Thus, these two bikes make a significant contribution to more sustainable transport, especially with regard to innovative business developments within the city.
A CoBiUM STORY
While the simplicity of an ordinary bike is attractive for many, the fact is that a bike has far less loading capacity compared to that of a car. Heavy shopping bags, several children or a retired washing machine destined for the recycling centre are often impossible to fit onto a bike. This is where a cargo bike comes in handy, solving these needs and helping the environment at the same time.
The bicycle library (cykelbiblioteket) in Växjö, which opened in April 2019, gives Växjö residents the opportunity to test different types of bicycles including cargo, electric, folding, and gravel bikes. As cargo bikes are a bit of an investment, the idea of the bike library is to let people test them for an extended period. The three-week loans, free of charge, give people interested in buying a cargo bike an opportunity to find out how it might work out in their everyday lives, and to try various kinds of bikes, as the library has several different models of different brands, and both two- and three-wheel cargo bikes.
Only two days after the opening event in April, all eight predetermined lending periods were fully booked, right through to the colder months of November and December. That were 168 bookings made in two days, with cargo bikes and electric assist bikes being the most popular. In addition, positive feedback from a participant survey further confirmed the demand and necessity for such a service in Växjö.
In the survey, 141 respondents reported they could reduce car use for commuting, transport of goods, travel with children or a combination of the three. Of the participants, 39% said they were considering purchasing the same or a different model.
Some participants reported that they would prefer to try out other models before deciding, particularly cargo bike models that can cost between 4,000 and 7,000 euro. Others preferred to lease a bike; a new service developed at one of our participating shops. Involvement in the project has given bike shops the opportunity to explore new markets and include bike types and manufacturers that would not otherwise have been considered. New industry contacts were made, and new customer segments developed.
Strategies for turning the bicycle library into a permanent and more self-sufficient service that would not need to rely on EU financing are being studied, including a fee structure for borrowers (refunded with the purchase of a bike) and the possibilities of bicycle-pool spin-offs for housing complexes and neighbourhoods.
The bicycle library is helping Växjö to grow into a cycling city, and results and experiences from the project will be reflected in the municipality’s new transport plan to be published in 2021.
Colin Hale, Växjö municipality
The bike library is made possible with the help of the CoBiUM and SUMBA EU projects.
Read more about the bike library in an article in UBC dated May 18th 2020.
A CoBiUM STORY
The media and promotion unit of the city of Gdynia, Poland, are often seen out and about in the city, making film or taking pictures. During the summer of 2019 they borrowed one of the CoBiUM cargo bikes to see if it could make their job easier. An employee observes, "A cargo bicycle gives us estimated savings of at least several minutes", says one of the pleased employees. "Getting to the site of a larger event is much easier, because we can practically ride right up to our destination, saving a few hundred metres of hiking in the heat with video equipment that weighs a total of a few dozen kilos. This also solves the problem of finding parking space during major larger events"
The places the media team often visit are easily accessible via bicycle paths, which usually go by pleasant places, making a user’s journey more enjoyable than it would be by car. Thus, when a recording in the middle of the park is needed, the team could quickly get to the location and have all the equipment at hand.
"The reactions of people we meet along the way are very positive. The cargo bike arouses interest, attracts attention, evokes a smile and curiosity", according to a member of the team.
The team not only transports their equipment with the cargo bike, but also use it for taking interesting shots with the cameraperson filming while riding in the box.
A CoBiUM STORY
During the autumn of 2019, Ida and her family borrowed an electric cargo bike from Växjö Municipality in Sweden, for three weeks. The bicycle became a complement to the car that their family of five, which includes three children, usually use to solve their everyday transport puzzle.
Växjö Municipality, through the Bicycle Library, lends different types of bicycles to residents of the municipality. The bicycle library is jointly created as a part of the CoBiUM and Sumba EU projects.
According to Ida, the loan of the cargo bike has been a success for the family, often enabling them to leave the car at home. This is especially noticeable in the evenings when the car had been used to transport the two older children to and from their leisure activities, which often take place at the same time and at different ends of town. With the cargo bike, the parents were able to drive each child separately, one with the car and the other with the cargo bike. They also take trips with the cargo bike to the store or to the playground.
Ida found out that she could borrow a cargo bike in advertisements in the local newspaper, Smålandsposten, and on Instagram.
The family borrowed a Christiania Light brand electric cargo bike, which they report has been very easy to use. The family was a little cautious at first as the bike has no foot brake. However, after a short time, driving became automatic.
The bike has provided another opportunity for the family as they wanted to try out the bike to see whether it was something that could fit into their life. The opportunity to borrow the bike has really proved successful as the family now is looking to buy a new or used bike. Having an electric cargo bike for the family has eliminated extra transport for some of the children as they would otherwise have had to take the bus for the logistics to work. According to the family, not only do they save time, but they also protect the environment, which in itself is a big win.
A CoBiUM STORY
This summer, the president of the yacht club and the director of the harbour in the small village of Bisserup in Denmark got the opportunity to borrow two cargo bikes. So instead of driving their cars with goods and tools to the harbour, they use electric cargo bikes.
The trial period has been a success. Both men, Freddy Dahl Thomasen and Jens Christian Eskjær Jensen, use the cargo bikes almost every day and often many times per day. The cargo bikes are easy to use and can be parked close to the harbour. With the cargo bikes it is easy to get around, bike on small trails and to take shortcuts. It is also easy to stop and have a chat with people they meet.
The two men like that they also get some exercise, and as bonus, they can bring their grandchildren with them. The cargo bikes each have a bench in the cargo hold for the children to sit on. Freddy and Jens live about two kilometres from the harbour in Bisserup and instead of driving their cars between their home and the harbour, they now use the cargo bikes to bring tools or goods back and forth.
The borrowed cargo bikes are part of a CoBiUM pilot arranged by Slagelse municipality.
A CoBiUM STORY
For about five months, the Klunsbar clothing store has been using a cargo bike to deliver clothes to their customers in the city of Slagelse.
The two owners of the clothing store, Christian and Martin, had envisioned Klunsbar as a sustainable store. Even their fixtures were gotten second hand from another store. The store started a web shop in the spring of 2019 and the idea was that the owners were to deliver the clothes to their customers in Slagelse, by themselves. They first planned to use a car to deliver the clothes, but when they heard about the opportunity to use a cargo bike, they immediately jumped on board.
Using a cargo bike instead of a car for delivering goods to the customers, especially in Slagelse, Parking problems are a big issue in the centre of Slagelse and it is often easier to take a short cut with a cargo bike. Another good thing using a cargo bike instead of a car is that a cargo bike can be driven without a driver’s license, and by persons younger than 18.
The borrowed cargo bikes are part of a CoBiUM pilot project arranged by Slagelse municipality.