The 'what on Earth is that' look.
10 years ago, when yours truly started cycling around Cambridge for Outspoken Delivery, we used 8-Freight "Cargo Bikes". We delivered goods from A to B, cakes, sandwiches and payroll slips mainly (we only had 3 customers at first). The looks you used to get were proper head turning expressions of interest and confusion, it was great!
Even in a cycle heavy town like Cambridge, there really wasn't any type of bike like this on the roads. The bikes also made a heavy and loud rumbling sound too (due to the big aluminium box attached to it), so approaching people of the wrong disposition from behind could often produce interesting reactions!
But, after a year or so, people were used to these strange, loud and surprisingly fast bikes on the streets. Also, about the same time, Hugh at the School Run Centre (www.schoolruncentre.co.uk) had started selling Bakfiets bikes, so occasionally I would pass one of these unusual bikes carrying children, shopping or pets. The other rider and I would respectfully nod to each other, acknowledging our ahead of the curve thinking but also odd choice of bike!
From then on, as cargo bikes became increasingly more common, no matter what type of bike we brought in, Maximus, Truck, Rad or Bullitt, Cambridge was used to seeing them around.
So for this first week using our Bakfiets in Hitchin has reminded me of those fun first few months. As we approach people in cars or walking, they are often totally unable to comprehend in the time it takes us to pass by, what exactly it is they are seeing, how its possible to carry three kids on it? and why there is no exhaust!?
Introducing people to the concept of cargo bikes in Hitchin and beyond is certainly a big task, but that doesn't mean it can't be a fun thing to do too!
Seeing peoples reactions when they first ride one of these bikes is even more fun!
Watch out Hertfordshire, there's a new bike around!
Take a look: www.cargocycling.co.uk