A week of cargo bikes in San Sebastian

Last week, members of our Copenhagen team visited San Sebastian to deliver a series of workshops promoting the use of cargo bikes. The event was part of the ongoing EU Horizon 2020 Project, City Changer Cargo Bike. Accompanied by 15 European municipalities, the week’s programme had participants explore how they can unlock the potential of cargo bikes in their cities. Beyond the workshops, the programme included cargo bike test rides, a visit to a local micro-distribution hub, and the factory of French cargo bike company, VUF.

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Kicking off the week, our friends at Txita (pronounced “Cheetah”) hosted a series of cargo bike test rides for the general public and workshop participants alike. We tested bike models from Denmark, the Netherlands, and France at the city’s former bus station turned bicycle parking and micro-distribution hub.

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On a site visit to Mauléon-Licharre, France, we met Thomas and Anthony Chenut, founders of VUF Bikes. In just two years, the brothers have brought their cargo tricycles and modular trailers to market. With a unique rear axel turning mechanism, VUF bikes have already found success supplying to airports, train operators, and a mix of other business customers. Tellingly, VUF Bike frames are made alongside aerospace components, showcasing the role of cargo bikes as a 21st century solution.

At Txita’s micro-distribution hub, where trucks are unloaded for last-mile delivery by bike, we met Dani and his team of deliverers. Out of their 130-square metre space in the parking garage of a modernist tower, Txita distributes packages through San Sebastian’s central neighbourhoods on their fleet of electrically-assisted cargo bikes. It’s here you’ll also find their fleet of taxi bikes, which serve tourists in peak season, and a couple rickshaws for the San Sebastian chapter of Cycling Without Age.

San Sebastian in its own right served as an excellent backdrop to the exploration of cargo bike logistics. Over the past decade, this coastal town has consistently expanded its bicycle network, overcoming its hilly neighbourhoods in a casually innovative manner. With bus service for bicycles on hilly stretches, an electric bike share scheme, a repurposed rail tunnel connecting two otherwise distant neighbourhoods, and forthcoming bicycle escalators, San Sebastian is demonstrating how the bicycle fits into cities of all shapes and sizes.

Thanks to our colleagues on the project, and especially the City of San Sebastian for hosting!