Posted by: Mike Rubbo | November 25, 2009

Christiania Cargo Bikes

If you looked at our recent film, Doctor on a bike, you might have noticed that it ended with a women, a mother of two young girls, riding on a famous sort of cargo bike invented in Copenhagen, called a Christiania.

That material was shot for this blog by Genevieve Bailey and Henrik Nordstrom.

Gen. is a bold young documentary film maker who wrote to me out of the blue about a year ago, (She’d loved one of my movies as a kid) and has since become a friend, as has Henrik.

When she told me they’d be in Copenhagen soon, I asked them to shoot some material for me. Now, as well as filming the woman in purple, I found that Gen had also interviewed her. Sadly, we don’t know the name of this interviewee.

I don’t know why the bike carries a woman’s name either. Is Christiania a real person who got someone to build her the first bike like this? Does anyone know the story?

David Hembrow (View from the Cycle Path) has just told me the name comes from Christiania, an alternative community in Copenhagen.

I’m feeling stupid. I’ve been there, and was worriedly watching my teenage daughter the whole time as she chatted with strange types, strange to me, not her.

Christiania’s are very popular in Denmark. even though expensive, both for ferrying kids and for shopping. David Hembrow also points out that similar cargo bikes are common all over Europe, especially in Holland.

We haven’t got round to such bikes here in Australia yet. Ar least, I’ve never seen one on the roads. There is one type for sale here that I know of, made by Gazelle, a very elegant machine, costing around $4000 Aus.

I’ve just been corrected by Peter. Christiania bikes are available from PSBikes in Collingwood, Melbourne

http://www.psbikes.com.au/model.html

In any case, we have to consolidate the idea that bikes are practical transport for a human, before we start loading them down or filling them up with stuff.

It’s very interesting that this Christiania rider in the clip below, does not own a car. Also, the problem of bike theft in the city, which she candidly discusses, is fascinating. The thieves seem very persistent there, even with burly bikes like these.


Here’s a Youtube version. Some people have trouble with Vimeo

By the way, here’s one of my favorite cargo bike photos from Copenhagenize.com.

I like the composed elegance, and the suggestion of a conversation between propulsion and purpose, the kid turning back towards the driver.

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Responses

  1. that is a picture of Michael from copenhagenize in a 2wheeler from Christianiabikes.. taken this European summer on Bornholm.

  2. hey hey, please come and test a Christianiabike, I have sold them for 4 years here and there are more than 300 of them all over Australia.. Yes the 2 wheeler are based on the old dutch bakfiets design, what we have done is updating it, making it 15 kg lighter, the box bigger and it can still can carry more so you can transport your partner and kid if needed and you will not hit the passengers helmet when turning.. and they are cheaper than the original.. kind regards Peter

  3. Looks interesting.

    I didn’t realised it could be used to put the kids in the front!

    Sounds like a lot of fun for the kids!

    It’s like a pram-bicycle them.

  4. That last Christiania. Hmmmm, mixed feelings about that one. If you ask me it looks like a straight rip-off from the bike designed by Maarten van Andel (the dutch bakfiets.nl cargo bike). The one saving grace is that it probably rides amazingly. I detect the new shimano IM80 rollerbrakes and the frame is probably aluminium. The box is much shorter it seems, but maybe that is an optical illusion because the box is higher too. Well, if it is a copy it probably is better quality than the chinese ones. And more expensive than the original hahahahahaha.
    Cheers.

  5. Christiana is in fact here in Australia, and I have seen a couple being ridden around Melbourne. Head over to http://www.psbikes.com.au/ and have a look.

  6. Mike – I should have read the whole post before jumping into the fire! I see you’ve even been to Christiana! Silly me!

  7. Mike,

    The story of Christiana is an interesting one! It’s actually a place, not a person, and is a commune that was set up on an island in Copenhagen way back when and declared itself as an autonomous state within Denmark. Since then it’s always been famous as a place of open minds (and easy virtues) and has specific rules pertaining to all sorts of things such as the use of cars, and hard drugs. It’s a permanent home to about 800 people and has produced all sorts of businesses including a radio and television station and of course the now world-famous cargo bikes. Indeed, the bikes are now so popular that I believe they are manufactured in the Czech Republic to keep up with demand. You can read all about Chritiana on Wikipedia which gives a fairly comprehensive history. They also build Pedersons which are very tall thin-framed bikes.

    All the best,

    Mark


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