Krakow, Poland: a cargo bike right to the door of the fridge.
01.11.2023 | Out and about in ...
Anna and Napoleon live in Krakow – without a car. Their cargo bike, a Load 60, has long been an indispensable part of their everyday lives. Now they want to help other parents find the right mode of transport when their situation changes.
Hi Anna and Napoleon. You live in Krakow. How was life before you purchased your cargo bike?
Anna: A couple of years ago, we used my parents' old car. We were living in the centre of the city back then and we could never find a parking space near our apartment. I was the main driver in the family and it was always so stressful looking for a parking space all the time. Honestly, at times, I was almost trembling with worry when it came to looking for a place to park. As a result, most of the time we parked the car over on the other side of the river where my parents live. It was around this time that we figured that there is just no point in owning a car if it’s parked across the river.
What was the solution?
Anna: Bikes. That was obvious to both of us. But shortly after we got rid of the car, I also found out that I was pregnant. That naturally changed everything! How would we get around with our child and get to the doctor’s for the obligatory medical appointments? Then my partner mentioned cargo bikes to me. He showed me the concept and I immediately said: Ok, let’s try it! Our son was 3 months old at the time.
Napoleon: The cargo bike just works for us. We use it to carry our child around, to get to work and in our free time too. Essentially in all aspects of our life. Yesterday we even went on the Load to a concert in the Philharmonic Concert Hall. But I also use it for my work as a photographer. There are so many really photogenic spots in the city centre of Krakow that I simply can't get to by carr. With our cargo bike, I literally park right at the front door. That is such a blessing because I need to transport so much equipment.
» If there is a decent bike lane, bicycles will come. «
You run a website about cycling with children and also organise workshops. How did this idea come about?
Anna: When I was pregnant and we decided to ditch the car, everyone said: you can't have a child without owning a car. And then after we had the Load, people would stop us on the street and ask: what is this? Did you build it yourself? Where can I buy this thing?
Napoleon: So we decided to help to educate people about the possibilities offered by cargo bikes and bike trailers. We are both educators, we kind of have this need to spread the word. (laughs) First, we organised a meeting for neighbors and friends, where they could try out different cargo bikes and trailers. After that, we created a website, where we spend hours answering questions and writing blog posts. The interest and response is overwhelming.
Tell us a little bit about Krakow.
Anna: It’s one of Poland's oldest cities and – in my opinion – Europe's most beautiful medieval city. It has a population of around 800,000. It is very crowded, especially in the historic city centre with its narrow streets, which is very popular with tourists. Most of the centre is pedestrianised. Only taxis, delivery drivers and bikes can enter. The City Council is increasingly enforcing this strategy. Most of the city is flat and only one district has a steep hill.
Perfect conditions for bicycles.
Anna: Yes, we have visited all the major Polish cities by bike: Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw, Katowice. But Krakow is the best city if you want to convert from a car to a bike. bike traffic is growing and cyclists are a now powerful group in the city. Life is changing for them, as we get more and more cycle lanes, both in the city centre and also in the suburbs. We have beautiful cycle routes by the river, and you can get from the east of the city to the west mainly riding along the river. We now even have a perfect bike route to our local IKEA! bikes will come if there is a decent cycle lane.
You ride a Load 60 in tundra grey, your “Crocodile”. Why did you choose this specific bike?
Napoleon:I tested almost all the cargo bikes that are available in Poland. At the end, I chose the Load for its full suspension and due to the fact that it is somewhere between a sporty bike and a Dutch-style city bike with an upright riding position. It's also compact. It fits onto the train. And into our lift.
Do you take the Load into your apartment?
Anna: Yes! (laughs) We like to unpack the groceries directly in our kitchen. We simply take the Load into the lift, and then go up and into our apartment. This way we can unload our shopping directly from the box to the fridge. Having a cargo bike is not just about changing life. It’s about simplifying it.
Thanks for the chat, Anna and Napoleon.
Krakow is working on a sustainable mobility plan to reduce car traffic in the city centre and improve air quality. Measures include strengthening the cycling infrastructure and establishing an environmental zone based on the model of other European cities.
The city has allocated the equivalent of more than €4 million for cycling each year – for the expansion and new construction of cycle paths and covered bike parking. Local campaigns are also aiming to encourage more people to commute to work by bike.
To this end, the City Council repeatedly offers free bike checks and allows bikes to travel free on buses & trains. And a long-term bike rental service is to be launched in 2023 to get even more people on their bikes. Krakow currently has a good 270 kilometres of cycle paths.
More information: https://ztp.krakow.pl/en/cycling