Sure Signs of Progress


Julie of Adeline Adeline, our brand-new dealer in Manhattan passed this photo along this evening. Not just one Bakfiets Cargobike in New York… but two Cargobike owners who don’t even know each other. Sure, there are a dozen Cargobikes in front of every day-care and nursery school school in Old Amsterdam… but in New Amsterdam, who’d a thunk? It’s about as statistically likely as having two grandmothers named “Adeline”.

Julie only laments that she couldn’t also be in the photo but she was (wo)manning the camera while transporting a stool on the rear carrier of her Workcycles Omafiets. So actually there were three Workcycles bikes present though two of the owners did actually know each other.


A couple things, though, suggest that there’s still lots more work to be done:

  • Firstly we have here two men on Cargobikes. That could just be coincidence but a smaller proportion of female (and elderly) cyclists suggests a less developed cycling culture. Women are basically less likely to ride when the perceived risk is higher. In the Netherlands there are apparently more women cycling than men while in most of the world the cyclists are overwhelmingly male.
  • There are two Cargobikes but no children. In all fairness the kids might have just been dropped off at the daycare center but again, seeing people carrying their precious cargo around on bikes is the surest sign of the perceived danger being low.
  • The cyclists in the picture are on a bicycle lane of sorts, but it’s just painted onto the car road. If New York is to make cycling for everybody: children, women, old folks… and young men separate bicycling infrastructure will be necessary.
  • Anyhow here’s to this sight becoming a regular occurrence. Like almost all Workcycles dealers Adeline Adeline (yes, it does get a little tiring writing that twice each time) isn’t a bike shop in the typical, recreational, tech/cult/guy-oriented sense. In their own words “Julie brings a well-edited selection of beautiful, functional bicycles paired with lines of unique accessories in a stylish, welcoming environment.” Translation: Timeless transportation bikes for normal people who don’t necessarily call themselves “cyclists”.

    A few facts in case you’re wondering:

  • Nope, Workcycles bikes are not yet on Adeline’s site, but they’re definitely on the way… even Fr8’s!
  • Adeline Adeline is at 147 Reade Street in Tribeca, 212-227-1150
  • 34 Responses to “Sure Signs of Progress”

    1. Todd Edelman Says:

      Oh, I thought you were gonna say that the tagging on the back bak bike was the sign of progress… perhaps just assimilation?

    2. Amsterdamize Says:

      great, are we finally re-conquering that little island? 😉

    3. henry Says:

      I forgot to mention the tagging. It says “namtab”… backwards for “batman”. That too is just like in Amsterdam, though I wouldn’t call tagging progress.

    4. Frits B Says:

      Just write Adeline2 like the Indonesians do :-).
      I understand that in Bahasa the plural of a noun is formed by saying it twice, 1 Workcycle, 2 Workcycle Workcycle. This is simplified in writing by adding a 2 – which at first makes you think that all footnotes are #2.

    5. Jeanette Says:

      What a great photo!

      I bought my (Workcycles) bicycle from Adeline Adeline. The shop is great: wonderful selection, beautifully presented, helpful staff. Julie is terrific, as is her staff.

      I’m really glad her Workcycles order is coming in. Your reference to “perceived safety” is one reason I chose the Workcycles to begin with — it’s so steady and bomb-proof and easy to ride that it took out a lot of the intimidation factor about riding in Manhattan traffic (with really inadequate bike lanes). And it’s a joy to ride. And I can cycle to work in my street clothes (except on the most disgusting of those hot July days).

      Here’s hoping this kind of cycling becomes a regular occurence here! I’m one of a small handful in my fairly large office who cycles. NYC lags a bit behind other big cities in terms of everyday cycling — fewer bike lanes as percent of total roadway; fewer commuters as percent of total. These metrics are improving, but a great way to sustain that momentum is simply for people to be out on their bicycles as part of their regular routine, and making it look like bicycle joy.

      I adore Adeline Adeline for their service and selection and all-round loveliness, and because it makes this style of cycling accessible. So I hope Workcycles and Adeline Adeline have a long and happy and mutually profitable relationship — which will in turn also profit NYC!

    6. feddo Says:

      Warning: total topic hijack by me. Well, sort of. One of these guys is American and it is about a bike (sort of).

      Henry, the Zigo was featured on Dragon’s Den last week. If you do not know what Dragon’s Den is, you are missing out on something very, very good on television.

      Here’s the link, which is highly recommended viewing, albeit long (11 minutes). The numbers are mind-boggling.

    7. henry Says:

      Oooohh, OUCH! That must have been amazingly embarrassing for the Zigo Leader owners. I do have to be at least a little diplomatic here since a thousand or so bike people read this blog daily and Mitchell and Ehrenreich are likely amongst them.

      But anyway I’m also blown away by what they’ve invested compared to what they’ve achieved so far. Actually I’m mostly surprised about the investment side. Almost 4.5 million invested is unbelieveable and they certainly wouldn’t lie on the high side!

      That the Zigo hasn’t been successful in the market isn’t so surprising. We checked one out and rode it around and were just underwhelmed. It does sort of do what they claim, but that begs the question of whether anybody actually needs something that does all those things. Like other multifunctional products it carries huge disadvantages compared to the individual products it seeks to combine. It is also utterly lacking in charm.

      In any case that really was a very entertaining 11 minutes. Thanks for the tip.

    8. Thorsten H. Says:

      You really should ask KickStand Cycleria Thistle to be your girl in a new marketing campaign 😉 … or at least sponsor some of the great strips.

      Only one sample of Thistle doing child transportation

    9. Feddo Says:


      Yeah, I thought you would like that link. The numbers are staggering. Funny also how different locales/people have different views. One of the dragons does believe in the concept, where you (and I) don’t.

      It’s a bit like helmets, because bike travel is a common mode of transport here, we want things to stay simple and functional (so no helmets). The Zigo to me seems great for people with a huge garage and they can use it for a few years for a short ride to a park, unhook the frame from the buggy, lock up the bike, and then go walking with the buggy. Not my idea of functional or easy for us here in NL/Amsterdam.

      Sort of a solution looking for a problem if you ask me. Kudos for something that seems well built though and well thought out in engineering terms though.

      But again, the numbers are insane and just don’t add up. What volume do you need to shift with what margin to recoup the investment? That will NEVER add up, I did the math.

    10. Todd Edelman Says:

      If more people bought the good shit (e.g. Workcycles, Nihola etc.) instead of the Zigo and other distractions, I am quite sure their prices would come down due to economies of scale ;-). For mothership/shuttle bike operations, I would just carry a Brompton in the bike box (as Henry and I am sure others do).

      In West and parts of the Developing World, nothing ever really competed with the VW Beetle (not the Ford Pinto, etc.) but a billion inventors made stuff to make it (and the VW Bus) better.

      The original Bakfiets is such a great starting point, so it would be great if these clever or at least energetic people used it as a platform for further upgrades or innovation — to add value, as Workcycles does.

      Perhaps it is not necessary, but if was to do the Brompton thing I mentioned, I would see if made sense to carry it in a special discrete lockbox.

    11. henry Says:

      Yes, the Yehuda Moon series is great. I think I wrote about it a couple years ago. Perhaps he got the “we’re not made of sugar” thing from here, though it’s a very typical Dutch expression:

      Feddo, Todd,
      Investing five and a half million dollars (or was it pounds?!) in the Zigo really is utterly insane. I can’t fathom what they spent it on. But more importantly why didn’t they first spend ten or twenty thousand on some solid market research to see whether there’s really a market for such a thing and if so exactly what it needs to do and cost?

      But it’s always been like this with reinventing the wheel in the bike world: linear drive systems, bike alarms, absurd folding bikes, recumbents in all shapes, tandem conversions, two wheel drive… you name it and some inventor has blow his fortune getting it to market. After more than 30 years doing this I just get a kick out of watching the comic drama.

    12. Roger Says:

      after almost 20 years in the bike business i absolutely agree.
      I´d like to ad belt-drives and shaft-drives to your list. Thank god i forgot
      enough of the other stuff

    13. Todd Edelman Says:

      @Roger: I certainly dispute the claim that they do not need to be covered (especially on city bikes as this also provides protection for long skirts and dresses), but what are the other exaggerated benefits – or just plain untruths – about belt-drives? Are people returning bikes with this stuff and asking for a swap when possible to chains? Thanks.

    14. Alexis Says:

      Excellent. Its cool seeing the changes ocurring globally. More people on useful bikes is progress. I linked your post to my site. The name has changed to;

      ‘A Bicycle Culture’ and the URL is

      Since I’m not based exclusively in Old Amsterdam anymore. So please change the link when you get a moment.

      And thanks for the good word with Bobbin Bicycles. Appreciated Henry!

    15. Roger Says:

      The risk of getting clothes, especially trouser cuffs in an open transmission
      can´t be excluded.

      In the last months, the pros and cons of the “Gates” belt-drive have been discussed in numerous german chat rooms and bike mags.
      Practical experience of a few users has been varying considerably
      As you need a special frame which can be opened to install the belt, you
      have at least to go for a new frame or a complete new bike.

      The hype about the belt is rather among manufacturers who feel forced
      to offer a belt-drive bike of their own. (“Me too”- syndrom).

      No, there has been no asking of trading in such bikes or a swap to
      chain transmission. They simply don´t show up. They haven´t been sold
      in the shops yet, i guess…

      regards, Roger

    16. henry Says:

      I’ve written about the belt drives several times. I’m certainly not anti-belt, but I just fail to see what the fuss is about. Belt drive offers a few advantages and many more disadvantages. I’ll add to Roger’s list above the fact that it’s basically an experiment at this stage. Belt drives have been proven as a principle in other applications but it’s highly unlikely that the current designs will stick around for more than a few years. Thus the chances of finding spares for your 2010 Beltarama in 2015 are quite slim. Keep in mind that the match has to be EXACT, right down to the length of the belt and number of teeth on the beltring and rear cog. Along the same lines I’ll point out that simply changing the gearing of your Beltomatic is far more difficult and expensive than with a chain driven bike.

      This isn’t to say that there are no suitable applications for Rubberdrives on bikes. Perhaps they’d be very handy for a large program of citywide shared bikes. But they’ll still have to be covered up on at least the outside.

    17. Steve Mondel Says:

      Hello Henry; I visited Adeline-2 and rode a couple of your Workcycles. The Fr8 was especially impressive, smooth riding (on New York streets) surprisingly quick and agile for such a large bike.

      Question is the aluminium box available to the US market yet and the cost. Also what about the euronorm crates and could Adeline order a custom painted Fr8?
      Thanks Steve M.

    18. henry Says:

      Thanks for your compliments.

      Our dealers can sell anything we offer if they are willing to special order it and you are patient enough to wait for the next container to be shipped. On average this takes several months. I recommend you talk to Adeline-2 and perhaps other US dealers.

    19. casual nyc biker Says:

      I’m sorry two men without children choose to buy this cargo-bike and failed to live up to your expectations of exactly how to use the equipment.

      If you go on snapping photo’s of every New Yorker who purchases a cargo bike & then comment on their gender and whether or not they have children, even going on to imply a judgment upon their progressiveness, most of us arn’t going to feel welcome purchasing cargo bikes.

      Also, I’d like to dispute your implied assertion that the ‘vast majority’ of riders in our fair city are males…its not what I see every day…but you see…I’m too lazy to Google up supporting evidence about a bike culture whose demographic has grown almost exponentially in the last couple years. So I wont say it as fact.

      Regardless of gender, I believe most NYC riders are relatively new riders/returning riders after a long hiatus. Heavy cargo bikes arn’t likely to be an accurate representation of who rides anyway.

    20. henry Says:

      Now that is just too strange that you could read this post negatively. Please read it again to see that nowhere do I criticize nor judge these riders. It’s even titled “Sure Signs of Progress”. The part about “…judgement upon their progressiveness” just puzzles me. In fact I’m not even sure what that means.

      I also wrote that the photo was taken not by me but by Julie of Adeline-2, our dealer in New York.

      In any case I stand behind what I wrote: New York has certainly made great strides with regards to utilitarian cycling, and it still has a long way to go.

    21. philippe Says:

      Eh, it means you’ve been snobbed…

      Re Yehuda Moon : “You’re not made of sugar” is also colloquial in France (“tu n’es pas en sucre !”). Though I don’t know if it has been borrowed from the dutch.

    22. henry Says:

      philippe, Yeah, I found that link last night and connected the dots. Some people don’t seem to realize that Bike Snob (and I) deliberately misinterpret things naively for humor’s sake.

      That’s interesting that “you’re not made of sugar” is also used in French. English speakers and I believe Germans too aren’t familiar with the expression. It fits both Dutch and French stereotypes well and could be a very old expression.

    23. Thorsten H. Says:

      Of course there is the same phrase in German

      “Du bist nicht aus Zucker!”

      typically combined with a “Stell Dich nicht an …” (probably, but I’m not sure “Don’t fuss …”)

      And all this in contrast to the funny fairy tale above, that Germans don’t bike in rain 😉

      Greeting from Hamburg!

    24. Todd Edelman Says:

      Regarding melting Germans, my experience here in Berlin is that when it is raining the pavements become much freer of selfish and/or untrained, inexperienced cyclists out of proportion to the overall reduction in bike traffic.

      In other words these consciously or not anti-social cyclists also tend to be more scared of the rain than others.

      But to be fair, Europeans from the south and N. Americans are also over-represented in this missing group, as they have the least city-cycling-savvy or anyone riding in high numbers… in Berlin.

    25. Todd Edelman Says:

      Last sentence: or = of.

    26. henry Says:

      Thorsten, Thanks for the correction. So now I can only say with any assurance that the expression doesn’t exist in English… or didn’t until I started posting it regularly on my blog.

    27. Todd Edelman Says:

      Which expression, specifically? See

    28. henry Says:

      The expression is “You’re not made of sugar.” as an answer for somebody not wanting to get rained on. That has nothing to do with “sugar and spice…” etc etc.

    29. Todd Edelman Says:

      Henry, if you get past the first page on that Google search you will see it includes melting-related references.

    30. Tom Says:

      People are funny. Yes, I have a child and I did just drop her off. She wears a helmet. I do, usually…the heat! I got the bike in Portland, I think it might have been the first in the city. NYC. Kinda proud of that, I’m sure you noticed. The tag showed up one day. Strangely, I was about to ask the graffiti artist guy down the street to tag it with one of his cool artsy tags. I got Namtab instead, for free. Whatever. At least they tagged it neatly.

    31. Anonymous Says:

      At this point anybody riding around with their family in a Cargobike or similar conveyance in New York is a pioneer. Some day when there are tens of thousands of them there you’ll have some good bragging rights, regardless of whether yours was the first or the twentieth Cargobike in New York. Actually I know of several Cargobikes (all in Brooklyn) that predate yours by a couple years (since yours is a 2.0 type) and I assume there are probably several more I don’t know about.

      Tons of bakfietsen (along with everything else) in Amsterdam get tagged… but never so neatly or identifyably as your namtab. Speaking of tagging it’s time to repaint the outside of our Jordaan shop again.

    32. Tom Says:


      You are so right about that. I am reading my post again and am aghast at my pomposity. Now that I force myself, I even remember seeing a few cargo bikes in Brooklyn before I got mine. Ha, gotta lay off the beer. And bring on the tags, messy or otherwise, if anybody reading wants to and knows where I live.
      Cheers, Tom

    33. henry Says:

      Anonymous was actually me writing from another computer and not noticing that I wasn’t logged in. You might not be THE first but you’re certainly amongst the first, not that it matters much. Workcycles began sending bikes (including Cargobikes from the first shipment) to the US in 2005. None of those first shipments went directly to NYC. In 2006 and 2007 a couple Cargobikes went straight to Brooklyn from Amsterdam and I know of at least a few more that were shipped from dealers to NYC.

      In any case it’s just fantastic for me that my hometown is becoming a city of cyclists.

    34. Will Says:

      Good luck getting American’s to develop a separate cycling infrastructure. Being a citizen of the “Land of the Free” I have realized that American selfishness will surpass any environmentally responsible action. American’s, at the moment, are completely unwilling to pay taxes that will help our schools, roadways, and even our poor. Why? All so we can make a few extra dollars a year. It would sure help if we could import the sense of social responsibility that other countries possess. I am lucky enough to live in one of the few cycling communities in the country where we aren’t run off of the road by pick-up trucks or have beer bottle smashed over our heads. Sadly, citizens around here still work night and day to have us banned from public roadways. Please send some of your intelligence our way…


      PS. I will be buying one of these awesome bikes when I have my first kid! Cheers!cur

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