Do as the Dutch do, bike on a bakfiets

bakfiets

Thanks to its flat (meaning not hilly) landscape, the Netherlands is the perfect place for getting around on bike.  It’s also quite safe: bike lanes are virtually everywhere, and drivers are so used to the many bikes around that they take them in careful consideration.  So the ‘fiets’ is the preferred means of transportation for most, if not all Dutchmen. We cycle to work, we cycle to school, we cycle to the shops and we also grab the bike if we go out at night (this will also conveniently save us the money for a parking ticket or a taxi).
Kids?  No problem. We just take them in front with us when they are little, in a special seat hanging from the steer. When they grow bigger, they get a seat on the back of the bike, if necessary combined with the pre-mentioned seat on the front for a little sibling.
If you have three or more children though, it’s probably time to get a bakfiets.  A bakfiets is kind of a cross between a bike and a beach wagon, and you can conveniently fit in as many as 4 children (although I’ve seen people squeeze in even more!).  If you’ve ever been in Amsterdam, chances are high that you’ve noticed them around.
Bakfietsen come in many shapes and varieties.  Foreigners usually choose the variety with two wheels in the front for more stability, but most Dutchmen get one with just one wheel in the front because it’s lighter to cycle and easier to maneuver…  I think if we were to (finally) get one, we would get the one pictured.
If you’re ever in Amsterdam with children and are interested in doing as the Dutch do, I suggest renting a bakfiets in one of the many places in the city. It’s the most convenient way to get around, and super fun!
xxx Esther

P.S.  We typically don’t put helmets on in the Netherlands, not even on the kids!

13 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. Marta | February 2, 2010 | Reply

I love these bikes, but, what if it rains? Do children there have a ‘roof’?

2. Esther | February 2, 2010 | Reply

Good question! Of course in a wet climate as ours we’re well prepared — the bakfiets comes with a rain/wind cover! It has hoops so you can still fit your children underneath it, they don’t have to lie down or something ;-)

3. Marlotte Groen | February 2, 2010 | Reply

Indeed, we have a litlle roof for the children. But we get wet…. The children love to sit in De bakfiets. They even call me bakfietsmama now!

4. Amy | February 3, 2010 | Reply

I love this! It makes me so jealous how ‘bike friendly’ Europe is. Here in Oz we have way too many hills in most towns, there are very few (if any) bike lanes, you have to wear a helmet (which completely ruins any outfit!) and then when you get to your destination there is no where to park a bike anyway.

5. Sara | February 4, 2010

I second that Amy!
It is such a healthier way of life too….

6. Ozowiezo | February 3, 2010 | Reply

Great post, great bike! We have THE exact Same yellow bakfiets and it’s just really very, very useful. Plus we get à lot of looks in THE street, which is great cause I decorated THE sides with Ozowiezo- decals ;-)

7. peggy | February 3, 2010 | Reply

they are great.
For me having a bakfiets in amsterdam is like having a car….you can put so many things in there…

and specially with the rain/wind cover- my daughter loves her little house :)

8. Mo | February 3, 2010 | Reply

Anyone know where you can but these from in the Uk? Seriously thinking about overcoming my fear of biking on the open road as they are so cool!

9. Urban Mums | February 3, 2010 | Reply

I love this! If only London were more bike-friendly… Your post reminds me of when we spent time in Denmark this summer and were amazed at the huge bike lanes…both in the country and in copenhagen. I am coveting this lovely way of getting around!

10. Claire | February 3, 2010 | Reply

Mo,
There are distributers in the UK (www.dutchbike.co.uk and http://www.velorution.biz) who do the model Esther has in her picture (which I also own and can whole heartedly recommend).

However, there is a spectacular bakfiets made by a Danish company which has a “roll bar” and is thus more UK traffic friendly than the Dutch ones – we cycle in a more bike-friendly road environment. It’s made by Winthur and called the Kangaroo (http://www.kangaroobike.com/pages/features.php). There are UK sales points and distributors – a google search brings loads up and the web page reference has a tab for contacts with two UK sales points.

Since I am not Dutch I do put helmets on my children! In the icy weather we are having, I’ve seen too many bicycles go over not to…

Good luck!

11. Esther | February 5, 2010 | Reply

Mo, maybe you can ask for a test ride somewhere, so you can see how it goes before you actually purchase one!

12. Dennis | October 18, 2010 | Reply

I’ve never seen a bakfiets in person. Tell me, are there drainage holes in the box? What is on the floor of the box? A shelf for sitting?

13. Esther in Amsterdam | October 21, 2010 | Reply

Hi Dennis,
Yes, there’s a little bench for the kids to sit on. There are 2 sizes bakfiets — one for 2 kids and one that fits 4 (2 benches one forward facing one back facing). You can also attach the maxi-cosi so you can bring a small baby.
Not sure about the drainage holes, but must be. And it comes with a little tent-cover in case it rains (often in the Netherlands).

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