Tag Archives: Vehicle Design

Cargo bikes taking off in USA

About 25 years behind Europe as usual, but custom cargo bicycles are starting to hit the streets in New York  (www.hudsonurbanbicycles.com) and Portland, Oregon (www.metrofiets.com). Hip moms as well as service professionals like carpenters and plumbers have started to use the SUV of bicycles.

US versions are typically significantly more expensive (USD$3000 and up instead of $1500 and up) as they are currently only available in customized versions  or imported from Europe.  They also tend to be lighter and longer than their continental counterparts.

Here’s a recent NYTimes article and super cute video of some girls who helped design their own pink and silver bicycle in New York: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/17/spokes-hauling-cargo-no-car-necessary/

George Bliss of Hudson Urban Bicycles claims he started building “around the time cargo bikes started gettting popular in Holland, 3-4 years ago”.  But even the Dutch are quick to point out that they (www.bakfiets.nl) copied the Danish (www.christianiabikes.dk), who started the trend way back in 1984.  Sorry, New York, sometimes you are way behind the times! But it’s nice to see you catching up finally.

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Indian Cycle Rickshaws

A last mile solution

A rare published fare schedule for rickshaws. Looks regulated by the university. Fares are 5-20 Rupees or about 10-40¢ US.

Cycle rickshaws are an important “last mile solution” in India. The new metro stations in Gurgaon (and likely elsewhere in Delhi) had a line of drivers at the exit. This is likely also due to the fact that the metro corporation perceives its duty over after the stairs are built and there is no connection with other municipal agencies to coordinate connectivity to other modes (eg, feeder busses, sidewalks, etc.).

Typically the drivers are incredibly poor. They often sleep on or near their bicycle and earn a pittance for their difficult, sweaty work under generally hot and highly unsafe conditions. It is certainly not a desirable or fashionable job. Nor is it just for tourists as it is in most western contexts such as Berlin or Amsterdam.

Simon Bishop from the Delhi Multi-Modal Transit Integration System (DIMTS) informed me that women use cycle rickshaws 50% more often as men. This is perhaps because many of their errands tend to be close to home. Maybe they also consider it safer than taking an auto rickshaw or bus.

This photo is from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Delhi, where cycle rickshaws are used to get around campus.