How to: Rent a Cargo Bike
Why rent a cargo bike?
Well, because it’s a great way to transport stuff or people. Moving day? Bought a big piece of furniture? A cargo bike is your new best friend. We definitely recommend you to rent a cargo bike in Groningen.
Where do I find a cargo bike?
I went to De Stadswerkplaats (in Dutch) but they are also available from IKEA and Mamamini if you buy stuff from them. I can recommend De Stadswerkplaats as they are very friendly and speak good English. We even had a little chat about my home country and my studies- we were practically best friends by the end of the day!
How much does it cost to rent a cargo bike?
From De Stadswerkplaats its 12 euro for half a day. From Mamamini it’s free and IKEA for 2.50 per hour for a maximum of 3 hours. So, a cargo bike can be a cheap way of moving furniture if you’re on a budget.
What’s it like to ride?
Well, I am the most unfit person you are ever likely to meet, I think the last time I did any exercise was in 1998 when I hadn’t learnt how to get away with skipping gym class yet. But I managed the cargo bike. In fact, I managed 2 trips on the cargo bike. I moved an entire rooms worth of stuff in an afternoon on the cargo bike. And I have to say, it wasn’t that bad! Also, it was a lot quicker than carrying it which would have taken at least 10 trips and an insane amount of effort and it was a lot cheaper than hiring a van. I’m a cargo bike convert! When I told my mother she laughed for about 10 minutes which should give you an idea of how unlikely that last sentence was but it happened. Here’s some tips on cargo biking if you’re still not convinced!
You will be told how to ride the bike by people who know all about riding them. This is important for your own safety and the safety of others but will also help you feel confident about setting off. I was told that it takes 4 minutes to get used to the cargo bike and I’d say that’s about right… I mean I wasn’t perfect afters 4 mins but who is?! Also, this is a good time to ask any questions you have and to get advice from the experts.
It’s easy to switch off when you’re used to riding a bike and let your mind wander to far away (sunny, beachy) places but on a cargo bike this is not a good idea. Why? Because the bike is wider, longer and slower than a normal bike you will have many cars and bikes (and maybe even a few pedestrians!) overtaking you and you will need to make sure you’re aware of where they are. Also it’s a lot different than riding a normal bike, the brake is between your legs and you have a heavy trailer in front of you so it’s best not to switch your brain into auto pilot!
The mechanics of the bike means that, unlike regular bikes, when the cargo bike is moving the pedals are moving. If the pedals are always moving this means your legs are also always moving! It also means that if the bike goes too fast, your legs go too fast. This may look funny in cartoons but in real life it’s quite scary. Especially if your foot slips and the wheels are spinning on their own, one pedal hits you in the shin, you forget where the brake is, you panic and then after a bit of swearing realise it’s all going to be okay, you just need to take it slow (okay this may have happened to me once.. or twice.. okay three times. Clearly I’m a fast learner!)
Beware of corners
Going round corners fast is not a good idea. The steering is a lot more sensitive than you’d imagine. Take corners slow and steady and watch out for people overtaking you. Be careful not to hit the pavement or any other solid objects, cargo bikes are tricycles (bikes with 3 wheels) which means they are more unstable than vehicles on an even number of wheels.
Check the weather
Remember that they are open with no cover so if it’s raining your ‘cargo’ will get wet. Check the weather or take something to cover your stuff if it will be damaged by rain.
You will be pointed, laughed and stared at by literally everyone you pass. But is this really a bad thing? Everyone loves being centre of attention, right? And they’re clearly just jealous of how cool and economical you are on your cargo bike! The best is when you pass a fellow cargo biker and you give each other ‘the nod’. You both know you’ve made a great choice with all the money and time you’ve saved!
Should you brave it?
Yes! Do it! I hope that this hasn’t put you off because hiring a cargo bike is a cheap, environmentally friendly and a useful way of transporting your stuff. And more importantly- it’s fun! You have a great story to share with everyone back home and you can tell all your Dutch friends about how you’ve embraced their culture! After all that’s what being an international is all about. You can hire a van anywhere but can you ride through a city with a sofa on a bike? No. So embrace the Dutchness and hire a cargo bike next time you need to move your stuff!