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The MRCagney Blog

Reflecting on life with a Bakfiets - Part 1

Wed, February 15, 2023  |  Walking and Cycling 

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn.

I will never forget my first ride down a busy street in Amsterdam testing out a bakfiets. We hadn’t planned on buying a cargo bike, but I was 24 weeks pregnant, and my husband and I love riding bikes, so perhaps it was always going to be the natural progression.

That first bakfiets ride was in Amsterdam in June 2016, when I was there as part of a study tour looking into cycling infrastructure, supported by the Transportation Group Research Award. I was so convinced that I bought a bakfiets for my family there and then. Luckily, my husband, Malcolm  and I follow the principle that the correct number of bikes to own is n+ 1 (where n=number of bikes you own).

It was quite the exercise transporting the bakfiets back as oversized luggage, but it was surprisingly the cheapest way. The stopover in Shanghai was particularly tricky because I had to collect my luggage, including the bike, and get to the next gate via several elevator rides. The wooden box the bike came with was too bulky for the flight, so I took dimensions and then my husband constructed a new box out of marine ply back in NZ.

Ralph (5 months) in the unpainted plywood box with first seat we tested, which proved to be too reclined (April 2017)

Our eldest, Ralph, was born in October 2016 and his first ride in the bakfiets was at about 5 months old. With Ralph, we were nervous first time parents – and busy renovating a house, but when Madeline was born in 2018 she had her first ride at just 3 weeks old, in a capsule. My husband secured a strap in the base of the box, which just had a rachet to easily secure the capsule in place (including a pillow from our couch placed between the capsule and bottom of the box).

Madeline a few weeks old, off for a ride with big brother Ralph (July 2018).

A ride around Panmure Basin with Ralph nearly 2yrs & Madeline 3 months old (Sept 2018).

The freedom of getting out of the house on a bike when our children were so young was liberating and they loved it too. I can recall many times after Madeline was born when both children were upset, crying or fighting (or all of the above) and I would simply get the cargo bike out, strap them in and off we would go. Soon the crying and fighting would cease, and it was utter bliss!

The bakfiets was one of those purchases that made us a little nervous about amount of money it cost and the value we would get from having it. But I can confidently say now that buying a cargo bike has infinitely improved our lives over the past 6 years. The bakfiets has given our family the ability to get outdoors more, to collect large loads of supermarket shopping, take children’s friends home from play dates by bike, travel to the huge mall near us without having to traverse the diabolical mall parking, and it’s normalized cycling as a way to get around for our children. Our children just don’t understand why people are so amazed and shocked by the bike (as many have never seen one). For our children the bike is just a bike and it's always been part of their lives.

This is the first in a series about living life with a bakfiets. Feel free to connect with me so you don't miss future posts.