12 December 2013

Spectacular Cargo Bike Collection in Italy

Cargo Bike Culture in Ferrara, Italy
Vintage cargo bike fleet in Ferrara, Italy

We love cargo bikes at Copenhagenize, not least for their role in modernising our cities. There are 40,000 of them in Copenhagen, so we see them every day. Copenhagenize Design Co. is also a partner in the three-year Cyclelogistics.eu project aimed at promoting cargo bike use in cities. We've published a book with 725 photos of cargo bikes in Copenhagen and around the world - Cargo Bike Nation. We help organize the Svajerløb - Danish Cargo Bike Championships. It's safe to say that we have cargo bikes on the brain.

Whereas in Copenhagen cargo bikes are an integral part of daily and city life, they are still very much an emerging trend in many parts of the world. I've ridden Bullitts in New York and Tokyo, a Bakfiets in Barcelona and a Triobike in Vancouver and Los Angeles. Every time, people are amazed to see these bikes. They've crossed streets to talk to me about it - non-cyclists, as a rule. They are amazing conversation starters.

Often you find yourself explaining that you know what?... cargo bikes used to be normal transport forms in cities all over the planet. In Russia. In Australia. In America - where IBM repairmen used to ride them. You name it.

Now, the cargo bike is returning to our cities. Even the Wall Street Journal has noticed. People are rediscovering all sorts of uses for them.

It's all good, but it's also important to keep hammering home that all this was normal for decades and decades. Enter our Cyclelogistics partner Gianni Stefanati, from the City of Ferrara, Italy. (amazing city for vintage bikes, by the way) He discovered this fantastic, free e-book written by Felino Tassi for the BikeItalia.it website about a passionate man in Lecco, Italy. Nello Sandrinelli has collected a great number of vintage cargo bikes from the era around the Second World War.

(Correction: in the original text we wrongly credited Gianni Stefanati as author. It is in fact Felino Tassi. Oops! Sorry!)

I've never seen anything like them. Mr Sandrinelli hasn't just gathered up dusty old bicycles. He has collected bicycles that were complete - just as they were the last time they were used. He also collects the stories - as much as possible - about the craftsmen who used them.

Here are some of the cargo bikes in Mr Sandrinelli's museum. Be amazed.

Cargo Bike History: Mosaic Craftsman's Bicycle Cargo Bike History: The Lamp and Stove Seller's Bicycle
Left: A mosaic craftsman's bicycle. Fixing mosaics and tiles damaged by age or storms.
Right: Lamp and stove seller's bicycle.
Cargo Bike History: The Furniture Polisher's Bicycle Cargo Bike History: The Wood Carver's Bicycle
Left: Furniture Polisher's bicycle
Right: Wood Carver's bicycle.
Cargo Bike History: The Coffee Seller's Bicycle The Vineyard and Orchard Grafter's Bicycle
Left: Coffee seller's bicycle, complete with grinder.
Right: Vineyard & orchard grafter's bicycle. Repairing broken vines and trees, grafting the branches back on.
Cargo Bike History: The Beekeeper's Bicycle Cargo Bike History: The Walking Stick/Cane Maker's Bicycle
Left: Beekeeper's bicycle. Complete with hives.
Right: Walking stick maker/seller's bike. The rack on the front is for carrying sticks found in the woods. The rack at the back is for displaying the finished products.
Cargo Bike History: The Cinema Vendor's Bicycle Cargo Bike History: The Plaster Sculptor's Bicycle
Left: Cinema vendor's bicycle. For selling sweets and cigarettes to cinemagoers.
Right: Plaster sculptor's bicycle.
Cargo Bike History: The Cobbler's Bicycle Cargo Bike History: The Wood Carver's Bicycle
Left: Cobbler's bicycle. For all shoe repair.
Right: Wood carver's bicycle.
Cargo Bike History: The Refrigeration Repairman's Bicycle Cargo Bike History: Package Delivery
Left: Refrigeration repairman's bicycle.
Right: Package delivery.
Cargo Bike History: The Midwife's Bicycle Cargo Bike History: The Professor's Bicycle & The Fortune Teller's Bicycle
Left: Midwife's bicycle.
Right, at top: Professor's bicycle from a female professoressa. At bottom: A fortune teller's bicycle.
Cargo Bike History: The Artist's Bicycle Cargo Bike History: Lunch Delivery Bicycle - to Factories
Left: Artist's bicycle.
Right: Lunch delivery bicycle. Wives would bring a hot lunch to men at factories.
Cargo Bike History: The Fireworks Bicycle & The Lumberjack's Bicycle 
Left, at top: A fireworks bicycle. Hired for parties and events. At bottom: A lumberjack bike.

You can download the e-book on Bike Italia's website. It's in Italian, but the text translates pretty well into English on Google translate.

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