IMAGES: How Dutch bicycles are designed to carry what people need

DUTCH CYCLING SERIES: Bicycle with baskets are synonymous with Dutch cycling, but front-mounted crates and pannier bags seem to get more everyday use by people cycling in the Netherlands. 

As it may have become apparent to anybody looking close enough to our last three articles (1, 2, 3) in this series, the bicycles people cycle in the Netherlands are set up for carrying most people’s everyday loads and more.

Given that more and more Irish cycling commuters seem to be using Dutch-like solutions, some readers might find this article unnecessary and the solutions obvious. But the bicycle’s potential for carrying shopping, work gear, school books, and sports gear with relativity easy is still not fully understood in Ireland — and that is a barrier to cycling as a way of getting from A to B becoming more mainstream.

While cargo bicycles get a lot of coverage (including from us) for being able to carry a large weekly load of shopping, a more common method by bicycle in the Netherlands is loading bicycle panniers and baskets or crates.

On our visit to the Netherlands, the vast bulk of photographs we took which includes a few bicycles shows that having a front or rear rack, or both, is standard. Rear racks can carry pannier bags which hang down or the racks can carry any bag strapped on:

Dutch cycling

Putting the things you need to carry on your bicycle rather than on your back, is one of the ways it makes it easier for children to carry their bags to school:

Dutch cycling

Only 1 out of 5 of the children crossing at this green bicycle sequence had a backpack on — the rest are using a pannier, a crate, or a basket:

1 out of 5 not using pannier, create, basket

But it’s not just children who carry things on their bicycles, people of all ages do:



Baskets and panniers are often used together. Note that this basket is made stronger and steadier because it is fixed to a front-mounted rack, which are more secure than your average bicycle basket:

Dutch cycling

This bicycle parking outside the shop behind it, seemed to being used for a bit of shopping and the storage basket is left open awaiting the owner’s return:


On this trip to Dutch cities, crates seemed to be more common than baskets:


Front-mounted racks were also used for carrying bags:


You can also stuff your briefcase into a pannier:


Few others besides courriers prominently used large back packs:


As well as witnessing what Dutch people use we also visited the company Fietsklik, who have a vision for more a system of clickable rack system which will fit panniers and crate or child seat on a rear rack at the same time. Their foldable crate, which can be locked to the rack makes it an interesting solution, but one which does not yet seem to give more space than the typically used rear and front rack combo:


This series on Dutch cycling will continue, covering issues such mass bicycle parking, why we are more like the Dutch than we think, and more. Check some of the other articles in the series:

IMAGES: Typical Dutch cycling
IMAGES: Dutch cycle paths; And how we can stop getting it so horribly wrong
IMAGES: How the Dutch allow bicycles to flow like water


  1. Dublin Cycling Campaign thought of organising a public trade display of the range of solutions now available to carry goods on a bike but we never got around to doing it!
    We had identified the plaza at South King Street as a possible location.
    Well done with your photo-essay.

  2. This post goes somewhat nicely with this recent article about where Dutch supermarkets are located. Its in Dutch but Chrome auto-translates it fairly well:

    Basically it says the average distance to a local supermarket in the Netherlands is 900 metres (just over half a mile), which of course is an easy cyclable distance but which would be a much more time-consuming and arduous chore on foot carrying two bags of shopping.

    BTW I’m really enjoying this series of posts. Thank you very much for making the effort.

  3. Jim & Mike — thanks for the feedback, it’s always welcomed.

    Jim — Supermarkets and the planning of them is linked to both sustainable transport and sustainable: In the last week planning for a Tesco away from the city centre and established shopping centres was overturned in Galway and, in the last few weeks, a Tesco in my home town of Ballina in Co Mayo was approved for redevelopment the town centre.

    The latter was after years of Tesco looking for an out-of-town or edge-of-town site, but thankfully town council policy seemed to have pushed them in the right direction. Thankfully our TDs and councillors mostly seem to understand the value of the town-centre protecting policy, so hopefully it should continue under the county council’s rule.

  4. “But the bicycle’s potential for carrying shopping, work gear, school books, and sports gear with relativity easy is still not fully understood in Ireland — and that is a barrier to cycling as a way of getting from A to B becoming more mainstream.”

    One major reason for this is the bicycles and assessories that are widely available in the market here. With a few very welcome exceptions and specialists, most bike shops still don’t cater for the everyday cyclists. So when people go shopping for a bicycle, they will more than likely still end up with a hybrid with derailleur gears for which carriers, mudguards and lights are extras. This is changing slowly as people are realising that there is another use for the bicycle beside sporting endeavour. Dublinbikes have been a major help in this revelation by letting people experience a practical easy to use bicycle but can only carry small amounts of cargo with their small basket.

    Enjoyed your series a lot, as I am currently toying with a short trip to Utrecht in September. Don’t know if it would be too much for some who are novice cyclists. The videos make it look like the cycling equivalent of the M50 sometimes. But the out of town routes look good.

  5. Utrecht is fine — even at rush hour, it’s not like central Amsterdam at rush hour.

    Even in rush hour, the vast bulk of Dutch people will general quickly see that you’re a tourist and will be accommodating.

  6. I have a design idea, if anyone has the ability to make it. I do a lot of shopping and carrying from my bike and have panniers, basket and backpack for that purpose. Having a backpack, the kind of pannier I use is fixed and there is often the issue that you fill a shopping bag and it takes the shape of the shopping, so when you get to the bike you have to almost unpack your shopping bag to get your shopping bags in. It is a waste. I reckon you could just have two frames on the back in which you could suspend shopping bags!

  7. “Front-mounted racks were also used for carrying bags:”
    Not only bags. I haven seen that a girl riding her bike is carrying her girlfriend on that front-mounted rack.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.