Built to carry heavy loads, cargo bikes were once the exclusive tool of couriers and delivery services in the city, but are now being embraced by families with young children who are looking for a way to turn everyday chores into an adventure.
Such predilection for this sustainable vehicle is due to the fact that they were expressly designed with the purpose of facilitating the transportation of cargo, and nowadays, even for the transfer of people in an efficient and comfortable way.
Whether with two or three wheels, with or without electric pedal assistance, cargo bikes are once again in the spotlight because of the many benefits represented by the diversity of their models with innovative designs that are loaded with technology to contribute to the change of paradigm in mobility, improve your health, forget about the car and its traffic jams and save you a lot of money.
Although in Mexican cities, mobility by bicycle still involves a number of risks, the truth is that there are also more and more of us who use the bicycle as a means of transportation, which implies greater safety for cyclists on the streets.
Bearing this in mind, it is time that we put aside the preconceived idea that only in Europe can one be transported by bicycle, and that this is a myth widely debunked by all of you who ride your bicycle – like a fish in water – every day in the city.
And if we set aside all those preconceived ideas that put the cargo bike as a vehicle that is only used for freight transport and we analyse some of its many benefits for mobility in the city, it turns out that you, like me, are going to want to have your own bike or cargo tricycle to ride with your family or pets in complete comfort.
So I present you with a list of reasons why I think Mexican cities are ready -the truth is that they always have been, there are many trips that are made on cargo tricycles and tons of goods that are transported daily on this type of bikes- for a revolution in cargo biking.
1. Cargo bikes and tricycles are the new delivery trucks for cities
A recent study conducted in Europe by the European advocacy group Cyclelogistics, revealed that at least 51% of all motorized trips related to freight transport in cities, can be easily done on a cargo bike.
This is well known by several companies related to the transport and shipment of goods and companies like DHL, which has replaced 10% of its Dutch fleet (33 vans), with cargo bikes. This has been reflected in savings of 152 tons of CO2 and about 485 thousand dollars a year. How much safer and more pleasant would the cities in Mexico be, if only 10% of the delivery trucks were replaced with cargo bikes?
2. Your next family car (minivan) can be a cargo bike
A cargo bike or tricycle provides us with an excellent means of mobility to transport market purchases, as well as to take the children to school and, not only that, imagine the monetary repercussions that not having to worry about the price of gasoline, spending on insurance, taxes and the whole series of costs -even though Mexico is one of the countries where it is cheaper to have a car- will have on your economy.
How simple our lives would be if we stopped worrying about parking and traffic when it comes to getting the kids to and from school.
As we mentioned before, it is not necessary to live in Europe in order to aspire to a better quality of life and enjoy all the benefits of cycling for our mobility as a family.
3. They no longer cost an eye of the face
While cargo bikes were once difficult to find in our country, this is no longer the case. In Mexico, we already have several brands -Trejo; Boulevard 49; Benotto; among others- of national manufacture and sale that are able to meet the demands of the most demanding and adapt to all types of tastes and budgets.
But if you wish, and thanks to globalization and the Internet, now it is also easy to acquire any brand of cargo bike or the best known Bullitt in our country, as well as resorting to modifications of the traditional and effective tricycle load or better known as “tamale”. In Mexico City, there are no longer few cases in which you see a practical mom, keeping fit while taking the kids to school on tricycles.
4. The best way to travel
Imagine this: all you want is to increase your quality of life and live in peace, to pedal through the city, to go shopping on your bike, to enjoy your city outdoors, for your children not to depend on the car to break the vicious circle that its use has caused and to keep fit while not spending a single peso. By using a load bike you can do this.
Ah! But what to do with the little members of the family? It’s very easy to take them with you on the bike. What better way to learn about cities and relax than on the front of a cargo bike or tricycle. As an added bonus, once the kids are old enough to ride these wonderful machines, they can pedal around on their own bikes.
5. Self-employment assured
When food trucks broke into Portland’s vacant lots several years ago, they not only responded to the trend of seeking out the cheapest, but also were more flexible for their customers than brick and concrete restaurants. As it turns out, we have been at the forefront of this type of business in Mexico for decades, and much earlier than in Portland, since who hasn’t eaten some tasty canasta tacos, from suadero; some tamales -hot Oaxacan tamales- a bread with coffee; ice cream; a fresh coconut, and countless options to keep the heart happy with a full belly.
And not to mention the jug of water that they take to our homes… they guessed, in a tricycle, the same way the clothes in the dry cleaner’s and a vast etcetera that represents the vision of a series of small entrepreneurs that motivated by the idea of taking their business to the consumer instead of the other way around, put their cargo bikes at the service of their clients.
So you know, seeing the acquisition of a cargo bike or tricycle, not only as a means of transportation, but also as an investment that will allow you to enter various markets and forms of trade to start making money immediately, is a pretty rational idea.
Today I can confess, dear reader, that I have made several moves and transported various goods and materials on a cargo bike and it has been one of the most economical, practical and modern to do so. The revolution in cargo bikes is coming! Now, all we need is for you to be encouraged to be part of the change and get on the bike.
6. You can carry more weight than you imagine
The previous one is a question that has been asked to me on many occasions, and I, personally, can tell you that in the last 10 years I have changed my place of residence from one place to another, and in those 10 years – approximately 6 times I have changed houses – I have not paid a peso in the hiring of a moving truck, and I have managed to do so by transporting the refrigerator myself; the stove and the furniture of my house with the help of a powerful tricycle, and in the last of my changes, with a brand new 100% Mexican manufactured bike that a friend kindly lent me.
But to satisfy that mathematical curiosity. The answer is 200 kg, which I was able to move with pure pedal power. Besides that figure is the recommended one, since I am sure that in that last move I managed to move in one single trip a little more than the 200 kg, but I better tell you where those 200 kg come from, which I mentioned some lines above. However, I recommend you to always pay attention to the manufacturers’ specifications before you overload your bike cargo.
The above figure, in addition to my own experience, comes from the Cycle Logistics report -which you can consult, in addition to many others in the following link-, where it was determined that cargo transport by bike was considered bikeable (possible to be done on the bike) so the Cycle Logistics study team found, that as long as the distance needed to move the load was 7 kilometres or less, and the total load was up to 200 kilos, and finally, as long as the elements being moved are not part of a complex chain of travel – refrigerated products, etc. – it is possible.
In addition, the Cycle Logistics team hypothesized that 42 percent of private trips involving car or truck loads could be made by bicycle without major complications.
Companies that are betting on cargo bikes
With this potential, it is not surprising that brands such as IKEA, after learning that 20% of their customers in Europe go by bicycle to buy their products, have put into service a modest fleet of bicycles with trailers to transport the products that their customers buy.
Also in France, the supermarket chain Intermarché has tested the Koursavelo service in 40 of its stores. It lends out bicycles for up to 48 hours to carry the goods consumed by customers, and has bags that allow customers to keep their food cold. But it is not only European cities that are opting for the use of bicycles to transport heavy loads. Recently, Déménagement Myette, a company in Montreal, Canada, has been in the moving business, transporting everything that used to be done by truck, but now on bicycles: moving sofas; refrigerators; in short, everything that you move when you move house, but now with the only driving force generated by the pedaling of the cyclists it hires to do the job.