Workhorse bike is king of Copenhagen streets
COPENHAGEN (Reuters Life!) - Picking up the kids from kindergarten after commuting from work and shopping for groceries sounds like a job best suited for a station wagon.
But not in Copenhagen, where many working parents prefer the slow, heavy and highly functional Christiania bike -- a pedal-powered three-wheel vehicle that retails for $3,000 and can carry up to 100 kg in a huge basket mounted on its front axle.
"It does not use any gasoline, so there is no pollution and you do not have to insure it," said Jeppe Lang after picking up his two children from kindergarten.
There are an estimated 20,000 of these bikes in Copenhagen sharing the Danish capital's vast network of dedicated cycling lanes with some 400,000 regular bikes, according to the Danish Cyclists Federation.
"I definitely prefer the Christiania bike, because it is impossible to park your car here," mother of two Heidi Nielsen said as she stopped her Christiania bike in front of a bakery.
The bike was invented in 1984 by blacksmith Lars Engstrom in Copenhagen's famous "free town" hippie enclave of Christiania. He made it as a birthday gift for his wife, Annie Lerche.
The two created a business out of the idea, setting up production on the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. Fom there they export Christiania bikes to 12 countries including Great Britain, Germany and Australia.
"Back then the idea was to bombard the city with carrier bikes and no one believed us," said Lerche.
The Danish postal service also uses the bikes to carry mail in Copenhagen, and the Bornholm factory is running at full clip to meet demand.
Lerche estimated that the bikes have replaced 8,000 cars on the streets of Copenhagen since their arrival.
(Editing by Paul Casciato)
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