At the Bakfietstreffen 2014, Nijmegen

The beautiful city of Nijmegen on the river Waal has got something Münster is missing: the Cargo Bike Festival. Last saturday it took place for the third time, with a conference on saturday where the European Cycle Logistic Federation (ECLF) was founded, and an exhibition and cargo bike parade on sunday - and this time, I could not miss it. So I took my oldest son and our Bellabike with me in our Ford Transit from the car sharing pool and set off to the Netherlands.

The venue was an abandoned spinning mill now in use for cultural events called the “Cultuurspinnerij De Vasim”. But for us, the day started in the city center of Nijmegen with the cargo bike parade, for which the people gathered from 11:30h on at the “Grote Markt”.

Julius right in the middle of all the cargo bikes!

I have got all the web statistics for the bakfietsblog (which tell me that march set a new visitors record), however I still feel flattered that so many people know about us and keep asking questions about cargo bikes and everything around this topic.

At “Grote Markt” I met Eric from the Leipzig based (cargo) bike workshop rad3 in person for the first time, and also the guy from Velogold in Hannover already knew who I was (sorry, I’m just too bad at remembering names).

@cm_altona asked to see a picture of the "rolling tree"

Meanwhile, a lot of people gazed at the Bellabike in amazement - we were actually the only ones with a Bellabike and therefore with rear wheel steering. That also appealed to the cargo bike fans Berlin, who had brought along their 8-wheeler.

XYZ - a very modular concept

The parade started and there was a lot to see: Urban Arrow, Bakfiets, ‘t Mannetje, Bullit, Veleon, Babboe, Radkutsche, XYZ, Nihola, Butchers and Bicycles, a rolling tree, a few so called “Bierbikes”, different kinds of rickshaws and many many more.

Taking a break.

When the parade came to a halt, Tom from Douze Cycles came over to us - he had recognized the Bellabike. Of course there were also a few Douze Messenger cargo bikes in the parade, and we talked a little about cycling culture in France and Germany.

Leading the cargo bike parade and inspiring my son Julius :)

On we went and a custom made, very high bicycle caught my son’s eye. He had observed how the driver had stopped at a garbage bin on our last halt, so he would not fall over, and now - with the wonderful thinking of a four year old - he concluded, that this man must have a large garbage bin at home, otherwise he could never get on or off his bike.

Julius' company
When we came close to the end of the parade, we rode next to a Veleon from Dinslaken (from Tetrion Spezialräder, I guess?). My son Julius and the girl in the Veleon both reached out and held hands and giggled a lot, and for the rest of the day they would often play together. Once Julius whispered into my ear: “Papa! I will now ask her to be my friend!”

We arrived at the Cultuurspinnerij and spent a great afternoon. Julius and his new girlfriend had a favourite game which involved climbing the steep slope underneath the motorway bridge that span across the area, which I didn’t dare to watch. Yet nothing happened, their climbing abilities matched those of mountain goats.

I met Wytze van Mansum, the designer of the Urban Arrow, and together we took a look at the new bikes they had brought along. Among others there was an extra long version of the regular cargo bike and a prototype of the long-awaited three-wheeler.

Some "odd" Urban Arrows

Whilst the extended cargo bike was created to meet the demands of bicycle couriers (and was surprisingly easy to handle), the modular frame of the Urban Arrow was always built to become a three-wheeler at some point. There is obviously some work to do on the design, but if the final piece rides just as fantastic as the prototype did, we can all expect a great bike. With the Veleon, the Butchers and Bicycles Mk1 and this prototype on site, tilting tricycles somehow seemed to be the secret cargo bike trend.

In addition there is a new bike especially for pizza delivery. Ever since “Snow Crash” every reader of science fiction knows that delivering a pizza is a tough job. Therefore, the Urban Arrow Cutie has everything the heart of the “deliverator” desires - and maybe even more: when I was presented with the smartphone link, even me - a geek with a smartwatch - felt this was a little too much. I do not need my bike to have a bluetooth connection. Striking realization.

Julius aboard the Douze Messenger

Finally I was able to try the Douze Messenger. To this day I had only seen photos of the bike, but had fallen in love with the design right away. The shape of the frame is very unique and the recent version can not only be seperated without tools, to take it onto a train for example, it also has a steering with wires. Four steel wires that can bear 400kg each should remove all doubts on this concept. And as Jorrit from Urban Arrow put it: even planes are controlled by wires.

Afterwards I went for a short round in the Butchers and Bicycles Mk1. This bike will get its own feature post soon, since the boys from Copenhagen were so kind to show up in Münster on monday after the Bakfietstreffen, where I could try the bike and go much more into detail.

And in the Butchers and Bicycles Mk1

There was so much more to see, the Metrofiets bikes from the USA for example. Unlike other “long john” bikes they come with two full-sized wheels which give them a unique look.

A Metrofiets in front of a long line of Bullits

Meanwhile, the 8-wheel from Berlin took a piano for a drive and a man on a recumbent pulled a 20m trailer along the test course that looked a lot like an accordion. A wonderful afternoon, we will definitely come back next year.

Both the band and the bike taking a break.

I can really recommend to visit the cargo bike festival. There is entertainment and catering for everyone, and virtually every bike can be tried - if you’re a friend of cargo bikes, you should not miss this.

Münster needs a cargo bike festival, too. Meanwhile, we’ll try to reactivate the “critical mass” and see how many cargo bikes we can get.