The ADFC (allgemeiner deutscher fahrrad-club) has recently started Die fLotte, a new initiative to provide free cargo bike rental to people in Berlin.
According to the Flotte website, Berlin is one of over 40 German cities offering free cargo bike rental, often with support from the local ADFC.
Why a cargo bike?
Whether you want to move your children from A to B, haul a load of heavy shopping or even move your belongings to a new apartment, cargo bikes offer an environmentally-friendly, cost-effective and fun alternative to using a car. They also mean one less car being used: less traffic, safer streets, cleaner air and less climate pollution. Riding a bike also keeps you fit and healthy and looks cool!
Getting hold of one of the bikes
There are currently 7 cargo bikes in the fleet: (names including Lotte, Luise and Walte) with some being better suited to transporting children, and some better for hauling stuff.
If you want to use one of the bikes, the registration process is simple. Simply register here, check the bike you’re looking for is available (you can use it for up to 3 consecutive calendar days) and click ‘book’. You will then receive a confirmation email and code word.
Next, go to pick up the bike with your personal ID (which is photographed or copied) and code word, fill out and sign the form and the bike is yours. A lock is also provided.
When returning the bike, chain it up to something unmovable and ensure you hand it over in person to someone at the rental station.
Although the service is technically ‘free’, donations are welcomed.
What bikes are on offer?
For those of you who don’t speak German, here is a list of the bikes currently available with a note about their specifications and suitability. To see the locations and pictures of the bikes, click here.
Bella is a 3-wheeled Bakfiets Cargo Trike Classic Wide and can house up to 4 small children on its two folding benches. The box can handle up to 100kg of weight and the rear rack another 50kg. 8 gears and powerful hydraulic brakes complete the package.
Inge is another Cargo Trike Classic Wide form Bakfiets.
Lukas is the fleet’s third Bakfiets Cargo Trike Classic Wide.
Lotte is a Bakfiets Cargo Trike narrow. This bike is 10cm narrower than Bakfiets’ Cargo Trike Wide.
Lisbeth is a Pedalpower Long Harry, the oldest and most experienced model in the fleet. Lisbeth is a two-wheeled cargo bike and has a platform instead of a box, making it unsuitable for carrying children. It has 5 gears. (Pedalpower is one of Berlin companies we met for our 5 Berlin bike manufacturers feature.)
Luise is a Bakfiets Cargo Bike Classic Long, and the fastest bike in the fleet. It has a collapsible bench for up to 2 children and can carry 80kg in its box and a further 50kg on the rear rack. Despite its length of 2.50m, it is agile and quick to get up to speed.
Walter is a PFAU-tec Jumbo. The box can carry up to 60kg, but has no benches for children to sit on. The maximum rider weight is 100kg.
If you use one of the bikes, please let us know how you got on.