- Bicycle Culture by Design: Spectacular Cargo Bike Collection in 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 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 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.

Left: A mosaic craftsman's bicycle. Fixing mosaics and tiles damaged by age or storms. Right: Lamp and stove seller's bicycle.

Left: Furniture Polisher's bicycle Right: Wood Carver'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.

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.

Left: Cinema vendor's bicycle. For selling sweets and cigarettes to cinemagoers. Right: Plaster sculptor's bicycle.

Left: Cobbler's bicycle. For all shoe repair. Right: Wood carver's bicycle.

Left: Refrigeration repairman's bicycle. Right: Package delivery.

Left: Midwife's bicycle.

Right, at top: Professor's bicycle from a female professoressa. At bottom: A fortune teller's bicycle.

Left: Artist's bicycle. Right: Lunch delivery bicycle. Wives would bring a hot lunch to men at factories.


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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