“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”
– Charles Mingus
Mingus was referring to art when he talked about making the complicated simple, but he might as well have spoken about cargo bikes. In cities facing congestion and pollution due to private vehicles, freight transport, and service logistics, cargo bicycles might be that creative, awesomely simple solution.
Cargo bikes are bicycles designed and constructed specifically for transporting loads. They are big enough to carry hundreds of kilograms of cargo, and yet are small, green and quiet. And recent technological and engineering developments led to improved comfort and durability, and powerful electric engines.
Still, too many cities are not tapping into the power of the cargo bikes. Street design is more welcoming to big trucks than delicate bikes; Rules and regulations are built around the current polluted solutions; companies and supply chains are designed for classic vehicles; lastly, most cities are too bothered with small updates to their current system than to rethink entirely outside the box.
Delivery trucks and van in Groningen. Photo by Gemeente Groningen.
Some cities are thinking – and acting – differently. Take Groningen, for example. Located some 200km north of Amsterdam and home to 200,000 people, is one of the world’s best cycling cities. Over 60% of trips in the city center done with a bicycle. On the contrary, it suffers from a street full of tracks and van delivering goods to business and homes. That’s why the city is now innovating with the cargo bike.
Groningen is already testing hubs on the outskirts of the city center. The latest one will open in June and will receive packages by conventional trucks coming from outside the city. Later, cargo bikes carriers will deliver them to the busy city center. Groningen also removes parking spaces from the city to allow more space for bikes and cargo bikes and is also rethinking its streets for a new era: less space for trucks and more space for livable amenities.
The municipality of Groningen, together with Humankind, will host the cities and discuss the future of cargo bikes in cities. More cities from around the world, from Trnava (population 65,515) to Bogota (population 8 million), will join this conversation. How do we provide them more space? How can the cargo bike be a tool for better well-being for citizens, besides only deliveries? And how can municipalities work together with residents, companies, shops, and restaurants to promote cargo bike?
Interested? You can join the International Cargo Bike Conference on June 14th in Groningen (tickets here). The Cargo Bike Fair will take place on June 14th & 15th, along a cargo bike parade and race through the city.
Is your city interested in joining the Cargo BIke City Summit? Let us know!