Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fad Or Fab?

I was recently asked by a news reporter if I thought cargo bicycles were a fad. I answered that I felt it was more an expression of how utility cycling is evolving as people become more comfortable with leaving the car at home for more and more tasks. But the question left me thinking, when is something a fad and when is it something more? I think it is less about how many people do something and more about how diverse the group is that participates.

Chamakleta y Nación Pedal
photo by Claudio Olivares Medina in Mexico City

If everyone who does "x" looks the same, is the same age, speaks the same language and only copies the last person they saw doing "x", that is a fad. When the people don't all seem the same, if there is variety in type things start to get more interesting and have a better chance of lasting.

bullitt build 6
photo by Slow RPM in Melbourne, Australia

Fads are something that gives fleeting pleasure but quickly become passé and silly. When we start to share these things with the people we love the most to bring us closer together they are no longer frivolous or temporary.

Copying her big sister
photo by baudman in Australia

I can not think of any fad that made my life easier, can you?

Beer Trailer
photo by Greg Raisman in Portland, Oregon

Who is comfortable putting their child in a fad?

4' 7", 90 lb 9-year-old in basket of Onya Front-End Loader
photo by Cold Iron in Alameda, California

Maybe that is the surest clue to this question. Children. Living life in a way that teaches our children what we feel is important is not a fad, it is life.

popemobile bike amsterdam 2
photo by henry in a'dam in Holland.

For myself, cargo bicycles are not a fad, not at all. They are the answer to what had become an increasing problem for me- how to live my life the way I want to. That there are so many options entering the market around the world is simply proof that there are many people in the world who have the same needs and aspirations that I do.

Damn, They're Heavy!

Just because it is fun does not mean it is frivolous. For those who are choosing these bicycles, it isn't because the neighbor has one. How about you? Do you think cargo bicycles are a fad?


  1. Thank you for the lovely post about Cargo Bikes! I am encouraged by Melbourne (currently no. 2 mostly livable city) in Australia to get on a bike, with all the bike lanes they've made and bicycle rules in the city and in neighboring suburbs. And since i don't have a car (i don't drive & our family can only afford 1 car) I recently bought a Taga prambike ( to get me to nearby shops, my baby's medical appointments & got back into shape after having 2 kids (keep postnatal depression & diabetes type 2 away!)

    Just as long there are bike lanes, new families w/ babies/children, cargobikes / prambikes are here to stay!

  2. Thanks from me,also. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I saw our picture in your blog. Since purchasing the Bullitt, we have taken stuff to the tip,(and brought some home),made numerous school drop offs,trips to Costco plus transported myself and baggage to and from the ship,where I work for half of the year.

    Along with 'fad' you generally hear the word'passing', and you only have to look to Europe to see that cargo bikes are not a passing fad.Petrol isn't getting any cheaper and I suspect we will be seeing a lot more of these treadlies around the streets in future.



    PS:good for you,Cubbie. If you see us and/or hear us around the streets of StKilda, give a little ting,ting!

  3. I'm surprised that a reporter should ask that question!
    People acquire cargo-bikes for their utilitarian attributes - Not fashion.
    Their number is going to increase in societies/communities where their (intrinsic) value(s) has(have) not been (widely and fully)realised or appreciated yet .
    My prediction is that cargo-bikes in all their forms are going to be ubiquitous ... NOT transient ... in the west of Europe & Asia.

  4. cubbie- that Targa is something else! I would love to know how to rides!

    Ian- When you buy a cargo bicycle, your initial worry is that you will not use it enough to justify the cost. Then you get it and the next thing you know you have found a million things to use it for you never thought of : )

    Anon L- i am not surprised by the question at all. These kind of bicycles have not quite achieved the ubiquitous status they have in other countries. As regular cycling has not yet become commonplace in most places in North America, I can totally see where cargo bicycles would seem very exotic and strange.

  5. What type of trike is the one with the kid in an orange jersey and a brown helmet? I've never seen one like that and it looks just the thing for me! Unity

  6. I think for some it could be a fad but for most others is it simply a way of life. Like cars...some resort to the cars that suite their lifestyle needs while others just want what are considered classic or cool.

    My father-in-law built his own cargo attatchment so it's not that he wanted one because it was in the store window. He built it to fit his personal need for the cargo he planned to carry with him places.

    At first when i thought of getting one it was because they seemed cool and were becoming the new 'in' thing for bikes. I still have yet to get one but now I want one because it would make shopping trips easier :) It gets me giddy thinking I can do a full out grocery trip without the car!!

  7. I needed a cargo bike yesterday, when I overstuffed my panniers!

  8. Yes riding will change your life... It maintain you fit....

  9. Hi!!
    Is a very interesting post about cargo bikes, but I have to say, the first photo is from Chile,not Mexico, is a bike store called Nación Pedal, and here is the page!
    Regards! =)

  10. Krista- I was actually shopping at Costco with just my Batavus for the last several years. It worked just fine and kept me from over shopping. My primary need when we chose cargo bicycles, first an Xtracycle and now the Metrofiets, is that we needed a way to carry our youngest child that would grow with him as well as the shopping. It has made life a great deal easier, that is for sure.

    Ben- you should see my panniers sometimes. They look like circus clown cars : )

    Maria- Well. Chile it is! : )

  11. THe first picture is in Santiago de Chile, not Mexico City ;)

    Thanks for publishing!

    All the best