Jun 30, 2009


(spotted outside pulcinella)
i was standing outside molly malone's in kensington a few weeks ago, waiting to depart on our pubcrawl when this handsome machine rolled in - complete with twin boys, their bikes, a happy dad - and big smiles all around.

this is a "bakfiet" - basically dutch for "box bike" - and these are very popular in some european cities like copenhagen and amsterdam. there are many versions available, but they generally offer the same features:
- a (removable) bench seat and seat belts for kids
- integrated lighting
- fenders
- wide gear range
for many european families these bikes are used everyday for shopping, errands, and kid transport - basically allowing a family to live with only one car, or no car at all or to facilitate deliveries of products/services in a more economical fashion for businesses.

after eye-balling the bike for a few minutes i had to walk over and take a closer look. the owner (i think his name was eric?) was very receptive to see another person who knew what the bike was and after a brief conversation, eric asked if i wanted to ride it. my answer, hells yes! i am not going to give you a roadtest report here, lets just say that riding it was unlike anything else i have swung a leg over and was more akin to driving a truck than riding a bike. it is so big that cars cannot miss seeing you and i noticed right away that motorists were giving me lots of room (this may have had more to do with the swerve-inducing pints consumed earlier than the size of the bike, not sure) and it was really easy to ride.

seeing this bike in action got my thinking - are we witnessing the birth of a more sustainable, urban calgary? new city bike sales are on the rise, the media seems to be paying more attention to commuter cycling, more people are trying to find alt-transport options for commuting, plan-it calgary has brought "new urbanism" into the spotlight and a new generation of city dwellers is choosing to eschew car ownership and suburban lifestyles for a more sustainable, compact life.

i hope so.

calgary has the highest per-capita car ownership rate in canada and this city has always been seen from the outside as a "frontier" town. many calgarians view car ownership as a birthright and that birthright also extends to everybody deserving their own litle piece of lawn in the suburbs and 3 cars in the driveway. thankfully, there is a movement of people who choose to say "BOLLOCKS!" to this birthright and the movement is getting bigger and more vocal everyday.

this bike offers us a glimpse into a future calgary that could be more sustainable, community centred and healthier. all we need to do is to keep the pressure on the city decision makers and make lifestyle choices today to live more efficiently and closer to your community.

1 comment:

mum said...

Sean, I think you missed your calling! Some bike magazine should be snapping you up to write columns for them! You certainly have a way with words! :)