Freight Bikes

During the American golden age that followed World War II, plentiful cheap fuel and the spanking new interstate highway network ushered us into the rise of the personal automobile and “18-wheeler” trucks. As a result, every other method of transport was at least partly neglected. In that world, this made economic sense. But in a world of consistently high fuel prices it is not good to have all your eggs in one overpriced basket.

In a world of high gas prices it makes more sense to diversify transport. Each particular function served by transport can be more efficiently served by a specialized mode. For example, we have looked before at Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles and considered the use of a motorcycle instead of a much heavier and fuel hungrier vehicle. In the long distance point to point hauling of bulk freight specialized trains can be the most fuel efficient solution. And so on.

Freight bikes are bicycles designed to carry a light cargo over local distances. They are almost always tricycles, necessary for stability while loading, parking and unloading. Normally a large box or wire frame basket is attached to the front or rear. Special relatively heavy duty gearing is installed. The frame is also heavier and sturdier.

Although they seem symbolic of underdevelopment to many people, freight bikes are actually a very good solution in situations of fuel unavailability or high fuel price. Obviously their range and cargo load are limited by the human power source. It is also very difficult to operate them in hilly terrain. But for local delivery over flat ground they are perfect. I suspect that as the price of gasoline rises relative to labor we will see more and more of these on the streets of the United States. And if that helps us save on gas, it is a good thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment