The cargo bike is an iconic part of Danish culture. Whether they realize it or not, most people likely picture these charming bicycles whenever they think of Copenhagen or the picturesque Danish countryside.
These days, you might well see cargo bikes on the streets of vibrant cities around the globe, from New York to Tokyo, and everywhere in between. Baere Bikes offers several models of electric cargo bicycles in the USA and Canada that are based on the iconic Danish design.
But to fully appreciate what's special about the cargo bike, one has to delve into the history of Copenhagen and its residents. There, we'll find a story that stretches back into last century and helps explain why these unique bicycles enjoy such enduring popularity today.
A Social Experiment at the Heart of Copenhagen
Christiana is a small neighborhood in Copenhagen with a remarkable history. Spread over just a few acres abutting The Straight between Denmark and Sweden, the land that makes up Christiana was once used by the Danish military.
But by the early nineteen seventies, the land had been abandoned, and a group of independent squatters took over, establishing a “free town.” The authorities did not push back, and Christiana has been well known for its quirky independence ever since.
For the last fifty years, the area has existed as a bit of an ambiguous gray zone — not entirely under the jurisdiction of the city government and not quite an independent state. Since this period, Christiana has operated as a collective cooperative, with residents still retaining some of the countercultural spirit of communal living that was particularly popular when the neighborhood was founded in the nineteen seventies.
These days, Christiana Free Town, as it is known, is a well-established part of Danish culture. Its continued existence is generally accepted and even encouraged by the larger Copenhagen community and even, to some extent, by the municipal authorities.
The small strip teems with cafes, shops, performance venues, schools, childcare centers, many hand-built homes, and, of course, cargo bicycles. The neighborhood and the cargo bike are nearly synonymous in Danish culture, and that cultural reference point has been exported all over the world as the years have gone by.
A Long Tradition of Craftsmanship
In the 1930s, a local blacksmith secretly made a unique bicycle for his partner's birthday. It had an unusual design, with three wheels-- two in the front, one in the back-- and a large plywood container built into the bike's strong metal frame.
It was only meant to be a one-time gift to mark a special occasion. Still, as the story goes, when neighboring residents saw the bike, they were enamored by the quirky but extremely practical idea. Demand for the very functional transport quickly ballooned in Christiana.
The Beginnings of a Modern Design
The workshop in the Copenhagen free town soon switched to making these family cargo bike designs almost exclusively, and their popularity quickly spread across all of Copenhagen and eventually all of Denmark. This transition marks the birth of the modern cargo bike.
In fact, for many years, people used “Christiana Bike” as a generic term to refer to all bicycles that had built-in storage. Though the original workshop eventually shifted to producing most of its bikes in a slightly different part of Copenhagen, Christiana's name and cultural identity became inextricable from the image of these classic bicycles, even the electric cargo bike.
The Spirit of Copenhagen on Wheels
Today, the Christiana Cargo Bike is an iconic part of Danish culture, especially in Copenhagen, where the metropolitan setting is well-suited to traveling by bicycle. The popularity of the design and the more modern electric cargo bike spans cultural divides; it is often noted that it's loved by the wealthy and the working class alike.
The appeal of the bikes — their usefulness, practicality, charm, and cultural resonance- transcends matters of identity and status.
As Christiana's bicycles became more widely produced over time and eventually exported to every corner of the world, this cultural symbolism went along for the ride. That's why the bikes make such a strong impression on people all across the globe; in hundreds of different cities, the family cargo bike evokes the practicality, progressive aspirations, social equity, and old-world charm of Copenhagen.
The Reasons for Its Popularity
It's easy to see why the original and modern electric cargo bike became so popular and widely cherished. Here are just a few reasons it took off.
The original Christiana cargo bike was entirely handmade with strong, sturdy materials, and many of the earliest ones are still in use today.
The built-in storage is exceedingly convenient and practical; it can transport luggage, groceries, and other supplies in addition to pets, children, or those who rely on wheelchairs. In many places, freelancers use them as bicycle taxis, especially around sporting events, concerts, and other large gatherings.
Ideal for City Living
The original design and modern electric cargo bike are tied symbiotically to the values of Danish culture. Traveling and transporting larger items conveniently without relying on a car was a big deal for the environmentally-conscious progressive Copenhagen majority.
City residents loved that they didn't have to rely on a gas-guzzling car to get their heavy groceries across town. Today, cargo bikes are becoming even more popular for precisely this reason. They're often used to make local deliveries in the place of trucks or vans.
And they don't only have a leg-up on the traditional delivery vehicles when it comes to environmental footprint and higher costs of cars; you may be surprised to learn that in many cases, they're actually able to navigate delivery routes faster than a van or truck can.
Safer than Cars
The Christiana electric cargo bike design has a lot to offer regarding safety, especially when considered on a community-wide level.
In some cases, neighborhoods that switched from trucks to cargo bikes for the majority of their deliveries saw an overall decline in injuries related to delivery accidents. And as an individual, the sturdier three-wheel, steel, and plywood design can offer a safer, more stable riding experience than a traditional bicycle.
Baere Bikes makes several models of the family cargo bike that come with built-in safety straps in the cargo area, meaning kids and other passengers can feel safe on the streets.
From The Classic Christiana to Today's Family Cargo Bike
From the very first prototype, only intended as a one-off, one-time gift, all the way until today, the popularity of the Christiana cargo bike has never waned. In fact, they may well be more popular today than ever before.
Today, there are some unique reasons why people are turning to a family cargo bike over other transportation options:
- A growing worldwide appetite for environmentally friendly transportation options
- A renewed focus on the importance of incorporating regular physical activity into your daily life
- A longing for all things charming, quaint, and traditional in the face of the increasing dominance of technology in society
All of these factors contribute to the ongoing popularity of the original free town design. And while the motivations have evolved, the features and designs have as well. Check out what people can now get from a modern family cargo bike.
Though the basic design principle and focus on quality craftsmanship has remained intact since the earliest days, the options, features, and capabilities of the Christian Bike have been refined over the years.
Most importantly these days, Baere Bikes offers several models of electric cargo bikes, which can selectively aid in propulsion when necessary. That way, if you have a cargo space full of groceries, kids, or even your rock collection, you won't have to worry about hills on your way home. That's a luxury the original Free Town enthusiasts could only have dreamed of!
Design Customizations to Suit the Rider
Baere Bikes family bikes have also pushed the original cargo bike further in flexibility, offering various design options that can meet the needs of different people.
The Oslo by Bare Bikes turns the original idea on its head. They do this by condensing the family cargo bike into a two-wheel design. The extra space this design innovation saves makes it easier to navigate the narrow streets of old European cities, and it can be beneficial when it comes to finding a place to park. This can be a sticking point with larger, traditional family cargo bike designs.
Easier Packing and Exiting
Another Baere Bikes Cargo Bikes model that adds additional functionality to the original Christiana is the Stockholm. This model, a traditional three-wheel design that's a bit more compact than the original, features a door at the front of the wooden cargo box that can make it much easier to get items in and out of the cargo area. This is especially useful for children, who, as in all Baere Bikes models, can be securely fastened with the included safety straps.
Larger Electric Cargo Bike Box
And of course, there's also Baere Bikes' flagship model, appropriately named The Copenhagen. Honoring the original Christiana commitment to craftsmanship and build quality. The Baere Bikes family bikes box can seat up to four. You'll appreciate the extra help from the drive train electric cargo box assist mechanism when it's full.
A Rich Tradition From the Past that Continues
Many people love Christiana models because of their rich connection to the past, feeling that they hearken back to a time of greater simplicity, greater craftsmanship, and greater willingness to incorporate creativity into everyday life. It's still entirely possible to get a family cargo bike made with a real commitment to old-world craftsmanship that retains the essential spirit of Copenhagen.
In fact, these days you can get a cargo bike with all of that craftsmanship and nostalgic spirit that includes features they could hardly have dreamed of when they were first created. Baere Bikes Cargo Bikes makes new models with electric propulsion capabilities, the finest available modern materials, and modern safety features.
If you've been considering trying Baere Bikes' cargo bikes, there's never been a better time to experience why this bicycle design has been loved for so long!