Safety First! Hong Kong Style

Workcycles rider Matt Ransford sent this photo from Hong Kong. He added that there aren’t many bikes to be seen in Hong Kong but those you see look like they’ve been around for a long time and they all have rod operated brakes. Thanks for passing that along Matt!

I seem to recall Hong Kong being David Byrne’s pick for World’s Worst Cycling City.

This delivery bike, with its big basket type front carrier affixed to the frame is just like old English delivery bikes. This, of course, was way back when it was still commonplace for tradespeople and delivery boys in the UK to move their goods about by bicycle. This connection is no great surprise given that Hong Kong was a British colony until recently.

Joinery bike !
An English Gundle Model U trade bike. Photo by Sprocket316 on Flickr.

This colonial (work)bike connection is actually rather consistent, if limited to the colonizing countries that exported bikes and cycling: England and the Netherlands. Perhaps there are other examples (Italian style bikes in Libya? French “porteur” bikes in Tunisia?) but I’m not familiar with them.

In India all of the city bikes and delivery bikes follow the styles of English bikes from about the 1950’s. There are apparently many classic Dutch bikes in Indonesia that can hardly even be found in the Netherlands anymore. I wrote about beautiful, old Dutch bikes in Indonesia here. In Indonesian rickshaws the driver sits in back and passengers sit up front over the two wheeled axle, just like a traditional Dutch bakfiets.

Rickshaw Makassar
Indonesian rickshaws by Elrentaplats on Flickr.

Current production Workcycles heavy-duty bakfiets. Photo by me.

How Indian and Chinese rickshaws and cargo tricycles ended up with the passengers or load in the rear is unclear to me, since English carrier tricycles usually also had their loads up front and riders behind.. Perhaps they began by modifying standard bicycles, in which case it’s somewhat easier to add a two wheeled rear end than front end. Alternatively maybe these places already had a tradition of foot powered rickshaws so the obvious progression was to put a bicycle in front. Does anybody have some insights here?

fully loaded bicycle
Rickshaw loaded up with lots of some sort of container, I assume empty. Photo by Luren J. on Flickr.

Chinese Family Trike
Chinese cargo trike, today as family vehicle. Photo by Tom Resink of Workcycles.

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