Cargo Bike

Four wheels bad, but three sehr gut. Germans climb aboard cargo bikes

 A family cargo bike on the move through the Berlin Zoo district. The bikes are subsidised by some 20 German cities and three states. Photograph: Agencja Fotograficzna Caro/Alamy

In a fashionable corner of the capital of Germany, Europe’s “car nation”, parents picking up or dropping off their offspring have lined the edge of a popular playground with luxury vehicles. There are summery convertibles, wood-panelled multi-seaters and slim racers – but none of them has four wheels.

Jan Edler, an architect, has picked up his son Laszlo from daycare with a Bullitt, a Danish-built cargo bike with a platform spacious enough to fit the one-year-old and the daily grocery shopping.

The family car, he says, has been gathering rust ever since he invested in the aluminium-framed two-wheeler, partly because cargo bikes manage to evoke the same romantic notions that cars once used to: “I just find it an incredibly liberating experience to get around a city on a cargo bike,” Edel says. “I feel safe among the traffic, and my son has something to look at.”

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