At times, cargo bikes designed for commercial purposes received special attention. First attempts of the courier services with high-capacity cargo bikes and local delivery services by bike in big cities were and are present in the media. But meanwhile, the private use has shifted increasingly into the focus of attention – and with it a growing number of models with specific designs for this purpose. This is also an important aspect for the retail because the sale and the service can only be provided in a competent way and close to home by specialist shops.
Cargo bike standard as guide rail
The Standards Committee on cargo bikes costed their chairman Ernst Brust, at that time still head of the testing company Velotech, “seven years of my life”. The first of all in all 17 meetings took place on September 17, 2013, the last on September 12 and 13, 2019. At the beginning of 2020, the DIN 79010 standard became valid and a corresponding European standard is being worked on. At that time, the Standards Committee was composed of top-class members, including representatives from the industry. In addition to Brust, other experts who participated are worth mentioning: Siegfried Neuberger, the ZIV managing director in these times, Dirk Zedler, the head of the test institute of the same name and Marcus Schröder, the managing director of EFBE Prüftechnik, who explained the standard at the Cargobike Academy.
It started with the probably most controversial point: the limitation of the standard to a permissible total weight of 250 kilograms for single-track and 300 kilograms for multi-track vehicles. With this limitation the committee did not at all intend to prevent the construction of vehicles with a higher permissible total weight. Leaving the field of application does not lead to illegality. Manufacturers are still free to continue their way in order to serve the commercial sector. But as long as there is no standard for this, these manufacturers must ensure the safety of their vehicles on the basis of their own knowledge, while the manufacturers of vehicles within the weight limit now have a clear guide rail. As reasons for the limitation, Schröder mentioned the adaptation of proven test methods and standards of the bicycle industry, the assumption that bicycle components could then be used and that the participants in the group of experts were experts from the bicycle industry.
It is to remain a bicycle
Kevin Mayne would anyway prefer to see a new vehicle category in the EU nomenclature that includes cargo bikes over 500 kilograms and up to a width of 2.50 metres as well as speed pedelecs. In this point he would be in line with Dirk Zedler, who sees the current legal classification of “normal” e-bikes and e-cargo bikes as bicycles at risk if too much emphasis were placed on “faster, higher, further”.
In his opinion, the public discussion is already now influenced by biased reporting that makes an issue of a few half-truths about the potential dangers of cargo bikes. Schröder warned that cargo bikes would appear on the “offender side” in accident reports. The experts also pointed out specific risks, such as belt buckles (in this field Brust had also already achieved critical test results) and the crash safety of the passenger cabin.
Author: M. Bollschweiler