Favorable wind for cargo bikes

A man transports his children in the front bucket of his cargo bike on March 23, 2022 in Lyon. (JEFF PACHOUD/AFP) #

In the front container of her cargo bike, 39-year-old Pauline Yan, a teacher from Lyon, loads market purchases and … three of her toddlers: the car is only used “on weekends or late evenings” in the city in chronic traffic jams. .

The use of city bikes, popular in the Nordic countries, is on the rise in France, prompting local authorities to adopt supportive measures that users are looking forward to.

There are no general statistics on this rapidly developing market, but local indices are stable.

“11 years ago I only sold them to enthusiasts. But in the last few years, sales have been +30% per year,” explains Alexander Karsenty, manager of the independent store Lyon Cycle Chic.

The same enthusiasm is recorded by the national Cyclable chain of stores – 1200 sales in 2018, 3400 in 2021, the Decathlon brand is preparing a model for release.

The trend also benefits small Saint-Étienne manufacturer Kiffy, who specializes in longtail, these bikes feature an extended luggage rack that can carry two or three kids, less bulky than a cargo with a box in the front. .


“The Covid pandemic, various buying aids and consumer awareness explain this explosion in different ways,” said Thibault Vignali, commercial director of this small and medium-sized business with 10 employees claiming 80% of products are made in France.

Carrying children is undoubtedly the gateway to cargo that is almost exclusively powered.

A man transports his children in the front container of a cargo bike on March 23, 2022 in Lyon.
A man transports his children in the front bucket of his cargo bike on March 23, 2022 in Lyon. (JEFF PACHOUD/AFP) #

“When parents take 30 minutes to cover 3km and end up parking in a triple line +hurriedly+and see the cargo ships arriving right in front of the school…” smiles Mr. Karsenty. “And for children, it’s an adventure every day!” says Paulina Jan.

The Colin-Jusse family took a decisive step with the arrival of their third child: the car, which had not been used since the family visit to the Lot, was retired in favor of a second freighter.

“In a metropolitan area, 90% of the time spent in a car is limited between parking and driving. The initial investment is high (6,000 euros for the first bike), but we end up there mainly because of the costs associated with the car … Especially since with a third child we would have to buy a more expensive 7-seat car,” explains 37- year-old Erwan Colin, head of information technology in Lyon. The bike’s carrying capacity is “equivalent to the trunk of a car”, long-distance travel is now done by “train”.

“Amazed” by the rise in family use, Nicolas Freissy of the association La ville à vélo nevertheless sees a downside: parking.

The wheelbase and high cost of the machines prevent safe placement. “People don’t buy a bike, they buy a vehicle!” insists Mr. Karsenti, pointing out that a quality cargo ship costs between 4,000 and 6,000 euros.

Local authorities are gradually responding to new needs, such as the EELV metropolis in Lyon, which, according to Vice President Mobility Fabien Bagnon, welcomes “the spread of bicycle use to the family territory through freight transport.”

Bicycle rental offers will be expanded, each new parking area will have spaces dedicated to two-wheelers. The mixed economy company Lyon Parc Auto has also reserved 10 spaces in its car parks from 2021 and is opening a car sharing service.


The Federation of Cyclists (FUB) is involved in the development of a number of specific safe parking facilities, especially in multi-family buildings and businesses.

A man puts his children in the front container of a cargo bike on March 23, 2022 in Lyon.
A man puts his children in the front trash can of his cargo bike on March 23, 2022 in Lyon (JEFF PACHOUD/AFP) #

So many devices are benefiting professionals, and deliverymen and handymen are slowly being retooled.

Thus, the association “Bicycle Boxes” has grown from 150 to 300 members in a year and a half, organizes training and is “regularly requested by chambers of commerce,” explains Caroline Faucon, administrator. She herself created “Baguette à vélo” in Lyon for breakfast delivery.

Rising fuel prices and the creation of low-emission zones in metropolitan areas are fueling this “pro” use. This is sometimes associated with the risk of traffic jams on bike lanes during rush hour.

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