The Art of Carrying a Passenger by Bike

Whether you know it as a backie, a seaty, a croggy, or just plain old dinking (Australia only), the act of giving a friend a lift on your bicycle is a familiar enough concept.

In countries like the Netherlands, it is a totally ordinary, everyday practice; two people, one bike, and away you go! Sometimes a couple might even leave one of their bikes at home, just because it’s a more fun and more sociable way to travel.

For us, giving each other lifts was certainly one of the joys of living in Amsterdam. And so, with summer just around the corner, we thought we’d compile a list of our favourite methods in the hope of inspiring more people to give it a go in the UK. Following the Gandhian principle of ‘being the change that you want to see in the world’, we regularly ride like this wherever we are, regardless of the opacities of the British legal system surrounding the matter.*

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Although it seemed as if men and women were equally likely to be passengers on each other’s bikes, the Dutch dames definitely tended to favour the classic ‘side-saddle’ riding style over other methods. There’s no denying that it’s an elegant way to travel!
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The same technique can be replicated on the left-hand side of the bike as well. Individuals tend to have a preferred side, but sometimes a passenger will choose to sit on one side or the other in order to face the sun, or to look in some shop windows as they go.
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Example
Perhaps not wanting to look feminine, the gentlemen of the Netherlands generally prefer to sit astride the bicycle’s rack, almost like a pillion passenger on a motorcycle.
Example
The advantage of this riding style is that the passenger’s feet can be used to stabilize the bike when stopped at traffic lights. This is useful, particularly if the passenger is heavier than the driver.
Example
Some jokers take this approach a step further, and actually sit facing backwards to experience a totally different way of riding – great for chatting to other bike riders!
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Example
Utility bikes like ours can have an extremely sturdy front-rack fitted to the downtube. This super strong platform doesn’t turn with the handlebars, and so does not affect the bike’s steering.
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Kristina actually finds riding on the front surprisingly comfortable, though perhaps a little windier than her usual seat on the back! Who needs a convertible when you can travel like this!?
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To be extra sociable, passengers on the front rack can turn around and chat to their chauffeur.
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Kristina frequently reminds me that I am carrying ‘precious cargo’ whenever I carry her anywhere. Maybe she’s right.
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For members of the Chinese State Circus and truly adventurous amateurs, standing on the bike’s rear rack is an amazing way of seeing the world! It doesn’t matter where you are, people will invariably smile and wave at you when you ride like this! Be prepared for a lot of attention, and maybe even a few photographs!
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While we love giving each other lifts, it remains one of life’s great pleasures just to go for a ride together. We may not live in Amsterdam any more, but we keep the Dutch spirit alive every time we use our fantastic bikes.

If you like the look of our bikes, why not vote for more? We’re only a start-up at the moment, but we’re hoping to get serious by winning some investment. Please support us by voting for our idea in this competition:  http://www.virginmediabusiness.co.uk/pitch-to-rich/start-up/flying-dutchman-bikes/

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Special thanks and loads of credit must be given to our photographer, Tim Hoy-Griffiths. A great guy, and a true professional behind the lens,
he does all sorts of photography; check out his website here: http://www.tpsphoto.co.uk/ 
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*Under the ‘Rules for Cyclists’ section of the Highway Code, section 68 outlines how,
“You must not … carry a passenger unless your cycle has been built or adapted to carry one”.
Now, as there has never been a test case to clarify what exactly the law means by this, it is, at present, open to interpretation. As it is completely normal to carry a passenger on your bike in the Netherlands, we must conclude that our Dutch bikes have, in fact, been built with the carriage of passengers in mind. For this reason (and pre-empting any likely criticisms in the comments below), we are well within our legal rights to carry passengers on our specially-designed bicycles; owing to their construction and adaptations, Dutch bikes are more than capable of safely carrying the weight of a passenger. That said, all forms of transport carry inherent risks, and you should be aware that Flying Dutchman Bikes cannot accept liability for the actions of others.

 

The bikes used in this blog are the Flying Priest and the Flying Dutchess.

Comments 5

  1. Hi. Would you a agree to a “reprint” of your Art of Carrying a Passenger on a Bicycle on our sites? (Bury, Felixstowe, Ipswich, Norwich and Sudbury Spy). We have some thousands of unique visitors to our cycling pages.

    Could come with a “previously on Flying Dutchman” and also carry your funding vote.

    Regards
    Richard

    1. Hi Richard,
      That sounds great, we’d love for as many people as possible to see the blog. We really did write it with the hope of inspiring others (and maybe gathering a few extra votes!), so we’d be more than happy for you to reproduce it as you see fit.

      Thank you so much for asking, we really appreciate it 🙂

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  4. This is quite nice.
    I ride my kids to school (in California) on alternate days. Love the ideas you’ve shared (we always wear helmets though. tsk, tsk). Have you ever run across a set of handlebars or a grab rail for a bicycle? I’d like to put one on my rear bike rack.

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