Laura Weyman-Jones learns to manoeuvre her Bakfiets.
Laura Weyman-Jones learns to manoeuvre her Bakfiets. Contributed

Weekend Mag Challenge: What the Bak?

THERE is nothing I hate more than shopping centre car parks.

They seem to bring out the worst survival instincts in people. Be aggressive and mark your territory or walk that extra 100 metres with all the things you painstakingly hunted and gathered.

One too many near misses and I have decided to change my tack: I am going Dutch.

Years ago I visited the Netherlands and watched in total awe the women who did everything from dropping the kids at day care to the weekly shop on their bicycles. They had a specific bike called the Bakfiets which translates as "box bike" where all the cargo could be held in a wooden bucket at the front. They pedalled around on these with such grace - and often while wearing heels - while little Hans and Wouter sat in the box playing on their iPads.

The car parks at shopping centres were full of bikes racked one after the other and not once did I see someone flip the bird at a fellow shopper who sidled in and stole their park while nonchalantly scraping paint off a neighbouring vehicle.

So I decided to try a Bakfiets. Sourcing one in Australia was easy enough and it arrived at my door within a couple of weeks. Riding it was the interesting part.

As soon as I left my driveway I had people in cars basically licking their windows trying to get a better look at my strange contraption. Conveniently this also meant people gave me a wide berth when passing and slowed down to lick the window some more.

Parking was too easy. I rolled up to the automatic doors at the entrance and locked my bike right out front.

Once I'd given the plastic a good workout, I put my bags of groceries in the front, kicked the stand up and pushed off. The weight of my purchases made balancing slightly more difficult and I had to stop once to adjust my bags.

The only problem with my expedition is that I will have to do it again very soon. Either that or find a bigger box and a stronger set of legs.

TAKE THE CHALLENGE: Why not try riding your bike to the shops? Share your experience and photos with us. Email weekend@apn.com.au or on Instagram: #weekendmagchallenge



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