The cargo bike for convenient environmentally-conscious transporting
Transport experts agree: the cargo bike can make an invaluable contribution to the much-vaunted traffic transformation in our cities. Even though the trend towards SUV-sized cars continues unabated, more and more city dwellers are discovering the advantages of these packhorses among bicycles. The same is true in the countryside, and cargo bikes are increasingly displacing the unloved commercial vans on the "last mile" to the customer.
Whether two- or three-wheeled, with load baskets at the front, rear or in combination, and of course also with an electric motor: cargo bikes can transport almost anything quickly and in an environmentally friendly way. At the same time, they require far less parking space than cars and – apart from minimal maintenance and repairs – engender no upkeep costs. Recently, the purchase of cargo bikes has been subsidised by the federal government to the tune of up to 2,500 euros. There are numerous federal state subsidy programmes which can be found on the internet.
It has become particularly popular to transport one's own or the neighbour's children, who thus don´t need extra supervision on the way to the kindergarten or shopping. Nonetheless, steering and manoeuvring these vehicles, which are usually metres long, requires practice. Depending on the load, they can be quite heavy and react sluggishly. Adequate brakes that need to be well maintained are an absolute must.
Lamentable: apart from a non-binding DIN regulation that prescribes, among other things, how much tension a belt must withstand, there are (still) no safety standards for cargo bikes. The widely used wooden or plastic boxes pose a high safety risk, especially for children. A first manufacturer promises a remedy by using expanded polypropylene (EPP), a lightweight material from the automotive industry that absorbs energy in a collision and does not splinter.
The lack of parking facilities for cargo bikes in the city is also often unsatisfactory. Nonetheless, environmentally conscious municipalities are gradually remedying this situation by designating special parking areas, including anchored parking bars, where the usually very expensive vehicles can be safely parked.