Headed up the Harlem Valley Rail Trail this weekend, I came across a family riding bikes together. When the weather is nice, this isn’t uncommon. More than the social aspect of riding together, what caught my eye was that one of the adults was pedaling a cargo bike. Also sometimes referred to as “Dutch SUVs”. In Dutch, it’s called a bakfiets.
I’m used to seeing cargo bikes on the streets of NYC, though such sightings are still more rare than ubiquitous. This was the first time I’d ever spotted one upstate. I pedaled to catch up with them -better to chat and take pictures.
Once I caught up, I was in for a heartwarming surprise. A brother and sister were enjoying the cockpit of the bakfiets. The brother has cerebral palsy. His father explained to me that “S” has very little control of his arms and legs, so basically he’s quadriplegic. The Bakfiets gives “S” the ability to enjoy being on a bike, even if he can’t power one himself. Plus, it gives the family an opportunity to spend some quality time together. As you can see from “S’s” big grin, he clearly loves being out and about in the cargo bike.
So you see, sometimes a bicycle is really something more than just a bicycle. Either way, it’s all about freedom and independence- however you may experience it.