Traffic: The risks of cargo bikes should not be underestimated

An emergency stop, a loud impact - then the heavy cargo bike is thrown almost 15 meters through the air.

Traffic: The risks of cargo bikes should not be underestimated

An emergency stop, a loud impact - then the heavy cargo bike is thrown almost 15 meters through the air. Debris is everywhere. Luckily this time it's only a crash test, but just such accidents happen every day in the cities. And unlike in the crash test, in reality small children often sit in the front of the load basket. "You can imagine what would happen to a child in such an impact," said Jörg Weinrich, Managing Director of the NRW State Traffic Watch, on Tuesday in Essen.

Because cargo bikes are experiencing a real boom, especially in the cities, the traffic police want to raise awareness of the special safety risks at the start of the two-wheeler season. Because handling the large wheels, which often weigh 65 kilos when unloaded, is not easy in dense city traffic. Together with the testing company Dekra and the provincial insurance company, the association provides information on the social networks and on a website about legal regulations and sensible safety precautions.

Try the cargo bike off the road

The most important advice from the experts: Anyone who is sitting on a cargo bike for the first time or who only occasionally rents one for bulk shopping should first practice away from traffic. Starting off, cornering, climbing curbs, braking - all of this feels different on a cargo bike than on a conventional bike. "If you then have heavy crates of drinks loaded or two children are sitting on the front, the bike is just as heavy as on a motorcycle," says David Kwarteng, who researched cargo bikes for his bachelor's thesis at Dekra in Münster.

In fact, the number of occasional users has increased in recent years. In many cities there are rental stations where you can easily rent a cargo bike for the big weekly shop. Some bicycle dealers or the ADFC also offer the bikes for hire.

The bikes are also very popular with parents who drive their children in the load basket. In principle, this is a safe method, say the experts. It is crucial, however, that the parents drive with particular foresight. Finally, the large cargo basket is usually in front of the driver. "As a result, the basket often protrudes into an intersection before the driver has a complete overview of the traffic situation," says Ludger Bolke from Dekra. In the worst case, the consequences are accidents like the one in the crash test.

Rules for taking children with you

Parents in particular tend to underestimate something else: cargo bikes have an extremely short braking distance due to the long wheelbase, among other things. This is actually a good thing, but it also entails risks. As a demonstration, Kwarteng places a children's dummy in his load basket. He leaves the seat belt undone. Then he accelerates the bike to 20 kilometers per hour and slams on the brakes. The little child's doll is thrown out of the seat head first - and crashes its skull onto the asphalt.

There are therefore special legal regulations for taking children with you in the transport basket of a cargo bike. "Not everyone is aware of who is allowed to take whom and, above all, how," says Bolke. The experts list the most important regulations on the campaign website. Anyone who transports children with the cargo bike, for example, must be 16 years old. How children or dogs have to be buckled up and secured in the load basket is also regulated for different age groups.