1.10.2009

My Next Vehicle: A Bakfiet


I really want one of these bikes! A Bakfiet is a Dutch bike that is designed so that you can carry cargo (or children, in my case!) Why do I want one so badly?

I have very crunchy dreams of owning a goat or two, some chickens, and growing a pretty-much self-sufficient garden on my little plot of urban land. Basically, I want continually transition to a more ultralocal existence. By gradually reducing our dependence on our car, we can certainly save money, reduce environmental emissions, get more outside time, exercise, and take life just a little bit slower. Besides, I live within biking distance to 90% of the places I need to go. The other 9% are accessible by our local transit, and for the other 1%, well, there's flexcar.

I have the luxery of living in Portland, a very bike-friendly town. Although it's a tad on the hilly side, I figure that between the bus, the train, and a bike, I can get almost anywhere I would need to go. And the places I couldn't get to, well, maybe I'd just have to simplify!

A bakfiet would be an ideal way to get around town with little kids. I am one who spends every day (once the weather gets warmer) outside walking to the store, the library, the park, to church, etc. I really enjoy walking but my kids are at that in-between age where they get pretty tired of the stroller after a while, but they slow me down too much to walk with me. There are also many places I could go on a bike that are just a tad bit too far to walk to. The library and the farmer's market are two great examples. On a bike, it would be a breeze. On foot, it's just a little too much. Ergo, my desire for a bakfiet.

Everything I'd heard about other forms of bringing children on a bike sounded dangerous. Those bike trailers just scare me. The seats mounted on the back (forget that they only hold one kid) seem like they would be harder to balance. I've seen those seats you can mount in front of the handlebars and those are really cool. I wonder if you could have one in the front and a rear seat as well???!?!?!

Obviously the bakfiet (and biking in general) have some major drawbacks. First, the price tag. Not a Thrifty Oreganic deal, at just under $3000 a piece. Yikes!!!! The other reason it's *probably* not worth the money given the noticable lack of good weather we have in Oregon. It's usefulness (I know, I'm a wimp!) would be limited to late spring, summer, and early fall.

The thing is, with that kind of a price tag we would have to sell our car and be carless to justify it. I haven't really thought through this enough, but in the coming weeks I'm going to start taking a good, hard look at my driving and try to discern what is truly necessary and what is pure recreation. Those gas prices are slowly creeping back up.......sigh.

So, how can I "use what I have" and get the same benefits as a Bakfiet? I do have a bike (it has a nifty basket on it!) and I could probably find some creative ways to safely tow a couple of kids with the one that I have. I have these crazy thoughts of trying to somehow rig my double jogger

up to a bike. (Aunt Helen, if you're reading this, can you ask Michael to work on something like this for me?!??! He he he). I'm sure there's got to be a way.....

If any of you readers are bike-riders-with-children, how do you do it? What's the safest? Any tips would be much appreciated!



10 comments:

amsterdamize said...

Sorry to hear you call yourself a wimp :), riding a bakfiets (it has an 's' at the end) with your kids in less favorable weather is more fun than you can imagine (just imagine thousands of thousands of car-free moms in other countries, such as mine). I think it's a relatively small sacrifice in comfort.

Regarding that last picture, you could also check out the Triobike, it's practical with its Transformer-like features, but I can tell you it's less of a comfortable ride (the rider position, lack of fenders, etc) overall.

Hope it helps.

cheeseslave said...

This is the coolest thing ever! Sadly, LA is not exactly bike-friendly...

Kristen said...

Ok that is cool! My town, Traverse City, MI is really bike-friendly too, except when there's snow everywhere. I could load kiddos and groceries in that... or kiddos and library books... or kiddos and beach gear... or, or, or... :p It's just when there's snow everywhere like now...

Susan said...

we saw lots of these last year in Copenhagen, where we spent the night due to our airline schedules.
Everyone rides bikes, both in Amsterdam and Copenhagen.
They are never locked either. I always wonder how people can tell which one is theirs. They all look the same, and there are literally hundreds of them parked on the streets.

Lisa said...

Wow! I've never seen one of these. We live in a relatively bike-friendly city. Hmm. We have our own metal fabrication shop, I wonder if I could get my husband to fabricate something similar with the help of cyclist friends...

Thanks for posting this, it's great!

Christina said...

I have a bike trailer for petros. We ride to the library or to the grocery store for small amounts of groceries. we also would ride to family swim at the local swimming pool a few evenings a week (pavlos can ride his own bike but it makes me nervous to take him out on busy rodes). anyway, we could never go carless unless we pulled pavlos out of asa... now that would be a bike commute, wouldn't it? paul rides his bike to work so i justify owning a minivan because of that and because we carpool with two other families to school (if i drive, that means two other families are not driving:). i have seen some of these bikes in N. Portland, were we are extremely bike friendly:)

Carrie T said...

Amsterdamize,

Truth be told, I think if my dear husband allowed me to invest in this type of bike, I would be willing to make the small sacrifice in comfort for sure!

I would love to get to a place where we sold our car and just had bikes!!! (Am I crazy??@?@?@)

Carrie T said...

Lisa,

If your hubby can figure out how to make one of these, then let's talk!!! I would love to find a creative way to make something similar!!!

Susan, I can't believe there are really so many of these! It makes so much sense.

Christina, yeah, you really couldn't go carless, but it sounds like you're really doing your part!!!!

maria said...

Hahaha, love those, says the Dutch girl.
We have a trailer, but I am a good weather biker these days....

wedgoinazigo said...

Sorry I am a bit late to this particular conversation. If you would still find it useful, checkout a Zigo Leader X2. Zigo= bike + double stroller + jogger(jog wheel extra) + Bakfeit. Very cool U.S. company and "only" $1400!
www.twitter.com/wedgoinazigo