Cargo Bikes Go Mainstream

Spotted on the front page of Saturday's WSJ is a picture of a Yuba Mundo longtail cargo bike, directing readers to Tom Vanderbilt's feature article of the "Off Guard" section describing the many types of cargo bikes. Main cargo is kids and groceries.

Vanderbilt describes all types of cargo bikes, "a catch-all term covering a variety of bike styles built for functional hauling" including Copenhagen's "Long John" with it's bakfiet (Dutch for box) container in the front; the Xtracycle "that kicked the whole thing off" in 1998; its predecessor, the Ho Chi Minh bike; and the $2,000 Milano.

"But for various reasons—better price, the perception that they ride a bit more like "regular" bikes—it's the less unusual looking longtail cargo bike (pictured above is a Yuba model) that has taken hold on American soil", Vanderbilt writes.

While commonplace in Copenhagen, cargo bikes are just now becoming more commonplace in American cities. Ross Evans, founder of Xtracycle in 1998 and who plays a key role in bringing the cargo bike to the U.S., links the popularity of the bike to another American, urban innovation. 

He said its growth roughly parallels the rise of farmers' markets. "It is the perfect farmers' market bike".

Cargo bike trivia: "The country's biggest seller of the Yuba Mundo is Joe Bike, a Portland, Ore., store specializing in "high-performance urban, utility and touring bikes", according to Vanderbilt.

Did the Wall Street Journal whet your appetite for a cargo bike? Why not check out a review (and video) of cargo bikes in Bicycling Magazine?

Tom Vanderbilt, author of "Traffic: Why We Drive The Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) and Survival City", is a prolific writer on transportation issues, many of which can be found here.

Contributor's note: Link to the article for those without Wall Street Journal subscription may not provide full access after July 13.

Full Story: Cargo Bikes: The New Station Wagon

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