The English term cargo bike has a strong and obvious connection to freight, with that word cargo. The Dutch word bakfiets is more neutral and literally means ‘box bike’. That makes it perfectly normal for the Dutch to transport not only cargo in these box bikes, but mainly their children.
Of course the bakfietsen are also used for cargo in the Netherlands. Shops and bike messengers use them to do local deliveries and much larger professional organisations like DHL and the Dutch post have started to use cargo bikes for their professional deliveries as well.
In 9 days the third International Cargo Bike Festival will take place in Nijmegen. With a conference on Saturday and a big public exhibition on Sunday, this festival celebrates everything ‘bakfiets’ or cargo bike. The full range of cargo bikes can be found at the festival, not only the true freight transport cargo bikes but also the cargo bikes that are mainly meant to transport children in.
Last year was my first visit to the cargo bike festival which then coincided with the opening of a fast cycle route from Nijmegen to Beuningen, and of course I wrote a blog post. This year the festival seems to be even grander and it is apparently the biggest event of the sort in the world. I will again visit the festival, but this year on both days. I will of course report what it was like. But to already get in the mood now, I made a compilation of the typical bakfiets you see most in the streets of the Netherlands: loaded with many happy children, but there are a few genuine cargo bikes too!
Bakfiets compilation, making clear how the Dutch use their cargo bikes most.
As you could see, most of these bicycles carry children and most are also Dutch made. The biggest brands in no particular order are:
The bakfiets is completely integrated in Dutch society and present in all stages of life. Babies at a very young age can be seen transported in a bakfiets. Some people move house in a bakfiets. Weddings and a bakfiets are not uncommon. And just two days ago a 79 year old woman in my hometown of ’s-Hertogenbosch had decided she wanted her last journey in this world to be in a bakfiets, accompanied by her dear ones cycling behind her. Beautiful!