New lightweight packraft can carry bikes or other gear — and be carried on a bike’s handlebars


Arrange a Svajerløb Cargo Bike Race!

Last week in Barcelona, the inagural svajerløb cargo bike race was held on a sunny Sunday in the Poble Nou neighbourhood. It was event organised pro bono by Copenhagenize Design Co’s office in Barcelona in collaboration with the Rueda International Bicycle Film Festival, where Mikael Colville-Andersen was president of the jury. Mikael and Jordi Gali from Copenhagenize whipped together a not-for-profit race and were thrilled at the turnout – both passionate particpants and curious spectactors. A 400 metre course was set up in the morning and there were particpants enough for 3 heats in the two-wheeled category, four cargo bikes in the three-wheeled and four teams in the team relay. The film, above, sums up the day nicely.

For most of the 20th century in Copenhagen, a massive armada of cargo bikes were the backbone of transport in the city. A fantastic army of men and boys from the poor neighbourhoods made the city work. Men and boys who were also invisible in the social hierarchy. They were called svajere in Danish – or swayers if you translate it directly – because of the swaying motion of the huge, flatbed bikes when heavily laden. In 1942, a priest named Kristian Skjerring decided to change things for the better. He wanted to give these svajere a pedestal on which to stand. He organised what became known as a Svajerløb in the city – a cargo bike race for these bicycle messengers. He raised money through the races to send the young men to summer camps. They were the hardest working people in Copenhagen and Skjerring thought they deserved some respect.

Svajerløb - Cargo Bike Race on Israels Plads
The races become incredibly popular in Copenhagen. Thousands came out to watch. There was prize money, but really it was about honour, and winning the right to call yourself the King of Copenhagen – at least until the next race. These Svajerløb races were held until 1960, when cars and vans started to dominate goods transport in the city. In 2009, the race was revived in Copenhagen and are now an annual event. The city has 40,000 cargo bikes in daily use, so a revival was a no-brainer. Unlike the 1940’s, the cargo bike riders are now families and people with goods to transport. The Danish brand Larry vs Bullitt, who produce the Bullitt cargo bike, were behind resurrecting the races for the tradition, the fun and as an obvious platform to sell their product. While the event has developed a Red Bull feel to it – corporate marketing disguised as an event – there are race participants using many other cargo bike brands on race day.

Cargo bike races are spreading fast, in tact with the rise of the cargo bike itself in cities around the world. There is now an International Cargo Bike Festival in Nijmegen, Netherlands each year. Apart from the recent race in Barcelona, we have registered on our radar races in Vancouver, Chicago, Paris, and Berlin, among others. In the Netherlands, family-friendly cargo bike events have taken place for many years. There is a new Facebook group called Svajerløb Global – The Cargo Bike Race Community – where people can share experiences and let others know about their upcoming races and share photos after they’re done.

So why not arrange a cargo bike race in your ‘hood? Help raise awareness about the usefulness of cargo bikes and have a fun day doing it. Here are the basics to get you started.

Svajerløb Cargo Bike Race - Barcelona 2017

Designing the Course
- Design a circuit in a loop (as opposed to an A to B course). There is no set length, but in our experience 400 meters seems to be a decent number. There should be some challenging turns, a slalom section and a straight, home stretch. If you have the chance to incorporate a hill, all the better. This ain’t no Sunday bike ride, sunshine. Although think about the potential participants when you gauge the level of difficultly. In the Copenhagen version, there are many spandexy dudes among the participants and the course is usually designed for them and for speed. If you want your event to be more inclusive and aimed to drawing the curious as well as the experienced, create a course that is well-balanced. We’ve seen courses with an awkward patch of sand in the middle. Mix it up, if you want. Just keep it realistic and safe.

- The stop and finish line should be the same and should be next to the loading zone, where the riders will load up their bikes – read more in The Rules, farther down. For the loading zone, you’ll need some space for the riders in each heat to stop and where you can position the cargo they have to load.

- If you can, design the circular course so that the spectators are primarily gathered around the stop/finish line and loading area but also so that they see the bikes on the course as much as possible. It helps maintain a level of energy if the spectactors can keep an eye on the race.

- Depending on the width of the course you design, you can have between four and six riders in each heat or race.

- You can use various barriersr to design the course. Plastic traffic cones or bollards, chairs connected with plastic tape, fences, you name it. Whatever you can get your hands on.

The Rules
We recommend using the original rules from the historical races in Copenhagen. The organisers of the annual race in Copenhagen these days stick to the same concept in order to maintain history and tradition, but also because the original rules are pretty cool. There are other cargo bike races at, for example, the bike messenger championships, but we’ll stick with the historical rules here.

- The race consists of four laps. The riders wait on their bikes at the start line. The first lap is ridden empty. They speed around the course and, upon arriving in the loading area, they load up their bikes with the cargo. This is the fun part, which is why spectators should be positioned close to the area. Then the riders head out on three laps fully laden, until they cross the finish line for the fourth time.

- Depending on the number of participants, you can divide them up into heats. For example, the top two finishers can qualify for a semi-final or the final. Or top three. You’ll figure it out. It’s a hard race, so try to limit the maximum number of races an individual will race to three.

- Cargo: In the traditional races in the 1940’s, the cargo often consisted of car tires, newspaper bundles, empty, wooden beer crates and sandbags. Cargo bike championships held in Paris in the 1920’s and 1930’s measured the weight of the cargo at 50 kg, although this was raised to 65 kg. Try to aim for between 35-50 kg as a rule of thumb. The cargo should not only be designed for weight. Make sure that you have items that oddly-shaped and difficult to secure to the bike. At the Barcelona race in October 2017, we had to be creative. Each rider had to load two plastic-wrapped bundles of water in 1 litre bottles (12 bottles in each), 5 kg bags of potatoes, another 3 litre bottle of water, a 5 kg bag of potting soil and a pack of 12 toilet paper rolls. We distributed the cargo to people after the race so we didn’t waste anything.

- Riders can use bungees or inner tubes to secure the cargo if they want. They can also carry an item in their hand.

- After the bike is loaded and they head out on the last three laps, the cargo has to stay on the bike. If something falls off, the rider has to stop and pick it up, getting it back onto the bike before continuing.

- Categories: traditionally speaking, there was a two-wheeler race, a three-wheeler race and a team relay. In modern versions, we’ve seen the addition of a women’s category and a vintage bike category. In some cities, vintage cargo bike are hard to come by, so you can make the call about whether to have this category. If there are cargo bikes with an electric assist, you can create a category for them, if you like. Then there is the team relay. In this event, four riders share one bike. Each of them do one lap, four in all, just like the other races. When the first rider arrives in the loading area, the team members help to load the bike and the next rider gets on. It is permitted to help push the new rider into motion.

- Next to the start/finish line and loading area, set up a table for the organisers and have some sort of board on which you can write the names of the riders in each race. Make race numbers that the riders have to put on their bikes so you can keep track of them. Pro tip: make them put the numbers on the side of the bike that faces the table as they pass. :-)

- Spread out the races to allow for time between races. You can do all the heats for the two-wheelers, then move on to the three-wheelers and women’s race and then get back to the semi-finals or finals. Traditionally, the team relay is the last race.

Family-friendly Race Ideas
In order to make the race even more family friendly, there can be side events with a parent cycling with a child in the box. You can created a separate course designed for finesse cycling and balance. The kids can be equipped with a stick and you can hang large rings up on thread. The parent cycles the bike close and the kid has to spear the ring with the stick, collecting as many rings as possible to win. Another idea is a cargo bike version of the egg race. A parent, with a kid in the box, has to cycle an obstacle course balancing an egg on a spoon. Or maybe the kid holds the spoon. Maybe both. Be creative.

The race itself need not be an expensive affair. Sponsors are always handy, if you can get them. Try to make it an inclusive affair and invite as many cargo bike brands as possible – if not to race, then to exhibit their products in the interest of growing awareness of cargo bikes as solutions for urban living. Copenhagenize Design Co was involved in the project for three years and our partners arranged all manner of events with numerous cargo bikes to encourage citizens to try them out and get a feel for them, in cities around Europe. It really helps broadcast the message if people get to test them out.

The more events around the world, the better!

Here are some links to cargo bike history:

- History of the svajere – cargo bike messengers – in Copenhagen

- The original cargo bike messengers

- Brazil is a cargo bike capital

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.

Industry vet relocates and expands cargo bike shop

MADISON, Wis. (BRAIN) — When industry veteran Tim Staton purchased his first cargo bike, a Larry vs. Harry Bullitt, a few years ago, he had no idea his career path was about to change.

Tern and Xtracycle complete crowdfunding on folding cargo bike, plan fulfillment through IBDs

TAIPEI, Taiwan (BRAIN) — Tern and Xtracycle have succesfully completed a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $150,000 to produce a folding cargo bike. Unlike many such campaigns, which ship the product directly to the consumers who support it, Tern and Xtracycle will fulfill its orders via retailers who will receive a margin for assembling and delivering them. The Cargo Node bike was developed for city dwellers and city businesses who want to use the bikes for medium distance errands and deliveries, but who lack space to store a traditional cargo bike.? “In high-density cities, the value of cargo-bikes multiplies,” said Xtracycle founder Ross Evans

My Stolen Bullitt

Here we go again.

Out into the backyard this morning with The Lulu, heading for school and then off to work. Something was missing. It was big and red and quite gone. My Bullitt cargo bike was not where it should be. Locked with the mother of all chains in our bike shed. It was stolen.

The first thought was “Damn… my logistics this week are screwed.” Second thought… “I liked that bike”. You know you live in a mainstream bicycle culture when the thoughts occur in THAT order.

I walked around the backyard in vain hope. Then I noticed that another Bullitt wasn’t parked in its normal spot. It was gone, too. Double Bullitt thieving in the dark of the night. In a secure, locked backyard.

Fun having to explain to The Lulu, aged 7, about why people do such things. She’s no stranger to bike theft, but still, she was as upset as me, so we had to tackle the subject on the spot.

It’s just a bike, I know. But it’s a bike that we use alot. For transporting stuff like just two days ago at the recycling centre. For building snowmen. For just getting around town. For all our daily needs.

Someone is going to have to break the news to Tigger this evening. THAT ain’t gonna be pretty.

This has happened before. Hey, it’s a bicycle culture. Back in 2011: My Bike Was Stolen! Back then the story had a fairytale ending against all the odds and thanks to social media: My Bullitt is Found!

I even got my vintage Swedish bike back once, too.

While I don’t harbour hopes of repeating those fairytales, you never know. There are loads and loads of Bullitts in Copenhagen now, compared to back in 2011 but anything could happen.

My bike has some unique markings. Sure, the first thing the bike thief does is remove them, but sometimes they just stick it in another backyard in another part of town for a while. There’s a pattern to this cargo bike theft.

So, here are the things that make it recognizable:

- A little sticker on the front.
- A sticker on the front panel.
- A map of Copenhagen on the cargo bay.

- The handlebars are unlike many Bullitts in Copenhagen. My mother taught me to sit up straight, so they are not low and straight, but high and suitable for a gentleman.
- There is a GoPro base on the front of the bike and, down by the front wheel on the left, there is another GoPro solution. (not pictured)
- On the back fender there are white, reflective chevron stickers, just like on The Lulu’s bike.


Hvis du ser cyklen et eller andet sted i København, sms eller ring på 26 25 97 26.

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.

Swiss Family Cargo Bike

No big bicycle urbanist article this time. Just a simple tale of what happens when you loan out your cargo bike. During the summer, a Swiss family from Lausanne checked into my Airbnb room. I have had only wonderful experiences with being an Airbnb host. Half of my guests know my work through the company or through this blog or had the link sent by someone who does, so I get to meet many likeminded people. The other half just like the look of the place so I get to meet fascinating strangers and welcome them into our home.

The Swiss family were cool. They kind of just rocked into Copenhagen without any definitive plan. They just wanted to come here to see this cool, bicycle-friendly city. They even brought their kids’ bikes with them on the plane. They had vague ideas of renting a cargo bike – preferably a Bullitt – and riding around the region but were disappointed to discover that Bullitts couldn’t be rented and the other places that rent three-wheelers were booked. I was using my own Bullitt at the time, so they enquired about the Triobike three-wheeler I have in the backyard. I said that it probably wasn’t THAT great to ride on longer trips, what with the wind and whatnot, but they just shrugged and smiled. They were up for anything. And off they went.

They cycled up the coast north of Copenhagen to the north coast of the island of Sjælland that Copenhagen is on. Then back down again. Then over to Malmö in Sweden to ride around the region. The kids rode their bikes and when one got tired – they were four and six – they just put the bike and kid in the cargo bay and continued.

I heard about their journey but I just received the photos in my inbox. It was, by all accounts, an amazing, epic journey. There are, of course, cycle tracks criss-crossing the nation – especially the island of Sjælland – so THAT was no problem, but respect for doing a few hundred kilometres as a family on a three wheeler, two small kids’ bikes and one extra adult bike.

Pit stop at a gas station. Not for gas, obviously.

Heading north from Copenhagen. Stopping at Charlottenlund.

They had camping gear with them, too.

Always fun with some off-roading.

Ooh. And picnics.

Lakeside camping with pre-requisite Danish beer.

Old building-visiting.

Off to Sweden.

A break back in Copenhagen at Baisikeli’s café.

Thanks to Simon and Sonia for the photos so I can see what they got up to on my bike!

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.

Respect for the Cargo Bike Riders of Rio

As you will have seen by now, here at Copenhagenize Design Co. we are currently in the midst of a crowdfunding campaign, raising money to organise a cargo-bike race in Rio de Janeiro, in order to raise the profile of the under-privileged cargo-bike riders of the city. But why do we want to raise their profile? And why do they need their profile raised?

As you may remember, a couple of years ago our partners in Rio de Janeiro, the NGO Transporte Altivo did an extensive cargo bike count of the city. This showed that each and every day in Rio, there are over 11,000 cargo bike deliveries. It also showed how hard they work: loads in excess of 200kg are not uncommon.

Why is this important? Well, Brazil’s economy is growing at breakneck speed, and by 2016 it is set to be the world’s 5th largest economy. Cargo bikes are vital to the cities that power this growth, connecting the country’s otherwise car-clogged urban environments and ensuring Brazil’s powerhouse economy keeps ticking over.

This economic growth has led the middle class population to increase by over 40% but not everyone has been swept along in this great new wave of Brazilian prosperity. Although Brazil has changed drastically, and overall inequality has slightly decreased over the last ten years, there are still large pockets of poverty and deprivation, and Rio is one of the most unequal cities in the world. As the opportunities offered by the city grow, so too does its allure, and so too does rural to urban migration. Rio now has a population of over 11 million but simply can’t keep pace with the level of growth and new arrivals to the city often end up in favelas on the hillsides of the cities, in ‘temporary’ housing that soon becomes their permanent home. It is here where the vast majority of cargo-bike riders come from. Whilst conditions in many favelas have improved a little in the last few years, they are still extremely poor neighbourhoods, where the average monthly income is $180 a month, barely half the official minimum wage.

The prizes for our cargo-bike races, which will be funded by our crowdfunding campaign, will amount to two months’ wages for the victors and in conjunction with local businesses, we will also include household items such as fridges or mattresses as prizes: vital products that with rising prices in Brazil are becoming increasingly unaffordable for the poorer population.

Rio Cargo Bike Culture_2

But of course, it’s not specifically about the winners. Though making a difference to their lives will be fantastic, we’re not doing this to just benefit a small handful of the thousands of cargo bike riders. Merely by drawing attention to the impact of these seemingly modest, but nevertheless significant prizes, helps to illustrate the difference in economic reality between the rich and the poor in Brazil.

But it of course goes beyond prizes.

Firstly the poorer residents will, both metaphorically and literally, no longer be hidden away in the narrow winding streets of the favelas, out of sight and out of mind. It is a lot harder to ignore society’s inequalities when they are right in front of you. As the widespread riots in Brazil last year showed, not everyone has been included in Brazil’s progress, and discontent is rife. Enabling society to see their poorest members in a different light will be a positive step towards increased equality, and towards the inclusion of the cargo bike rider’s neighbourhoods in the plans, hopes and dreams of the new Brazil that any journey round Rio de Janeiro reveals is being constructed at immense speed.

Secondly, the importance of the cargo bike will also be brought out into the open. The cargo bike will no longer be associated with some unseen and faceless ‘underclass’. It will be associated with real people, whose endeavour is admirable and vital. Their cargo-bikes will be recognised as the vital tools for the city that they are.

Rio Cargo Bike Culture_3 Rio Cargo Bike Culture_1

The future of transport, and as a consequence, of the city, will eventually be more about the bicycle than the car. It simply has to be. Rio can barely cope with the present number of cars, let alone any further growth. The cargo bike riders are doing it right. But as well as lacking basic opportunities in their neighbourhoods, they are also lacking even the most basic cycle infrastructure and this is no way to encourage more people to bike.

In our CycleLogistics work we have seen that 51% of all motorised deliveries in Europe could be made by Cargo-bike. Rio has such a high number of cargo-bike journeys that it could be seen as one of the cargo bike capital of the world. But it risks going backwards if it follows the mistakes made by European cities in the past: of a growing middle class leading to growing car ownership, leading to clogged roads, and cities that are not life-sized but instead car-centric, un-liveable and un-loveable. The roads are so congested that a 10km bus ride in the suburbs of the city takes 90 minutes. The widespread protests that took place across Brazil last year were set off by a 20¢ increase in bus fares, showing firstly the precariousness of everyday life in Brazil, but also the massive importance of good transport infrastructure. Cycling is the best way to get from A to B in any urban environment and anything that helps to increase this needs wholehearted support.

Creating a cycling culture in a city does not happen overnight. Car ownership in Brazil is still growing, but reappraising the role of the bicycle in its society can only lead to vast improvements. Cargo-bike riders hold the key to a better Rio de Janeiro, for everyone.

Our race will be held at the Copacabana, one of the most famous locations in Rio de Janeiro. Situating our race here will show the whole city that the cargo bike riders and their neighbourhoods should not be forgotten, and neither should the most useful tool available for creating liveable cities: the humble bicycle.

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.

Episode 08 – Cargo Bikes – Top 10 Design Elements in Copenhagen’s Bicycle Culture

Episode 08 – Cargo Bikes – Top 10 Design Elements in Copenhagen’s Bicycle Culture from Copenhagenize on Vimeo.

Episode 08 is here. Ûber intern Ivan Conte and the Copenhagenize Design Co. team explore another integral aspect of Copenhagen’s bicycle-friendliness – the use of cargo bikes.

Lest we forget… the Copenhagenize Design Co. book CARGO BIKE NATION is available for online purchase.


Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.

Someone Is Confused About How Hubway Works…

Saw this near winter street in downtown today…Pretty creative use of the cargo bungee.



Dear hubway if you are missing a bike, try the alley off of winter street downtown.

Cargo Bike History – Svajere in Copenhagen

King Christian X Guarded by Copenhagen Bicycle Messengers
Here are some historical photos of a cargo bike life in Copenhagen. Above, King Christian X on one of his daily rides through the streets during the Second World War occupation. He always rode without official guards through the streets and was much loved for it. Here, however, he was guarded by the bicycle messengers from the company Achilleus.

Here is a link to an earlier post about the Svajere – or cargo bike messengers of Copenhagen.

Copenhagen Bike Messengers 1917
The bicycle messengers at the headquarters of the Post & Telegraf service in 1917. Dressed splendidly. The bike messengers – or Svajere – in official service were usually uniformed until the end of the 1940s, when casual wear became the norm.
Illum's Cargo Bike Messengers in Copenhagen 1940s
The bicycle messengers for Illum department store in the 1940s, during the occupation.

Illum's Cargo Bike Messenger in Copenhagen 1940s
A double cargo bike nicknamed Skildpadden – or The Turtle – in the service of Illum department store. 1940s.

Byposten Bike Messenger Company in Copenhagen
The bike messenger team at Byposten messenger company.

Bike Messengers on City Hall Square in Copenhagen
Bicycle messengers from the telegraf service lined up on City Hall Square.
Dapper Bike Messengers in Copenhagen
Brilliantly dapper.
Young Bicycle Messenger in Copenhagen Copenhagen Bike Messenger from the Post and Telegraph Service 1941
Young bicycle messengers. Ca. 1940s at left and 1941 at right.
Copenhagen Bike Messenger - Svajer Copenhagen Bike Messenger - Svajer Copenhagen Bike Messenger
Heavy loads.
Copenhagen Bike Messenger
A “svajer” giving free rides to kids in the neighbourhood, 1942.
Svajerløb - Cargo Bike Race on Israels Plads
The legendary Svajerløb on Grønttorvet – now Israels Square. The races were organised by a man with a messenger company and the money raised was used to send the young bike messengers to summer camp. The races were popular events in Copenhagen. They were revived in 2009.

More about the Svajere – then and now – right here.
Svajerløb - Cargo Bike Race on Israels Plads Svajerløb - Cargo Bike Race on Israels Plads

Svajerløb - Cargo Bike Race on Israels Plads

Svajerløb - Cargo Bike Race on Israels Plads

Svajer Cartoon-005 Svajer Cartoon Svajer Cartoon-001 Svajer Cartoon-002 Svajer Cartoon-003 Svajer Cartoon-004
Cartoons about the feisty bike messengers.
Quiet Moment for Copenhagen Bike Messenger - Svajer
A quiet moment with a pipe.

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.