Whether you’ve visited the Netherlands at some point in the past or happen to live here long-term, you’ve probably noticed that Dutchies sometimes throw their kiddos in cargo boxes attached to their bikes.
The replacement? A roomy cargo bicycle that can fit at least a couple of little ones — and occasionally other stuff.
What is it?
They’re the mighty bakfiets or cargo bikes. An extremely large iteration of Dutch bikes that come in all shapes for the main purpose of transporting small children.
One of my favourite sights in the Netherlands is these cargo bikes that people use to take their children (a stream of them being pedalled back from school is the cutest thing), and even pets around in. pic.twitter.com/FQXWqMbMe6— Sharada (@suitcaseindian) June 4, 2022
With the bakfiets, you get your choice of either two-wheel or three-wheel bikes, depending on your comfort (and self-confidence) level, or an electrical option in case you want to spare your muscles the torture of lugging kids around on bike lanes.
Why do they do it?
Convenience. The Dutch are inseparable from their bikes throughout their entire life: including childhood, student years, and adulthood — so why should it be any different when they welcome a child or two into the world?
To bring it closer to the imagination, you can think of cargo bikes for Dutch families as the equivalent of minivans for American soccer moms. As a matter of fact, mamafiets’ are a thing too!
Why is it quirky?
Oh, it’s a sight not to be missed. The confidence radiates from the parent behind the wheel, while the kids have a smug look on their faces telling the entire world they’re better than them, sitting in their cargo throne.
The cargo bikes happen to be a status symbol as well, where it’s apparently tied to highly educated, urban, two-income families in the Netherlands.
Although the main modern purpose of cargo bikes is to move kids around, the Dutch sure extend the purpose to lug around their other babies: the pets.
And they use it to carry inanimate objects as well. Moving armchairs and Christmas trees by bike is just a bit easier with a bakfiets.
Christmas Tree Bakfiets delivery in The Netherlands! Love it! Bakfiets = Dutch Yuppie pickup truck. Do you want one!? #thenetherlands #bakfiets #christmastree #dutchcycling @Cycling_Embassy pic.twitter.com/trL9XRYjDE— John Harrison (@theyosemiteguy) December 5, 2020
Should you join in?
It’s really your decision, based on how comfortable and confident you are on a regular bike.
Just remember to add the extra weight and size of a bakfiets to your confidence level calculations — and be safe out there!
What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Do you agree? Tell us in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in January 2022, and was fully updated in March 2023 for your reading pleasure.