“Children need their little secrets”

Here is my speech at the 30 years Anniversary of Christiania Bikes at Radhuisplads in Copenhagen:

One of the hundreds of participants at the 30 Year Anniversary

One of the hundreds of participants at the 30 Year Anniversary

I would like to tell you three stories:

1. A few years ago I got divorced in England, the worst place for a husband to get divorced: the legal system is wholly in favour of the wife, and having a foreign accent doesn’t help. So the wife asked: “I want the house” and the Judge duly gave her the house; she then said “I want the children to go to private school” and the Judge said “The children should go to private school”; she said “I want more money” and the Judge gave her a lot of money. She started to like the game and became more vindictive “I don’t want the children to spend so much time with him” and so the Judge reduced the time I could spend with my children. However, at one point she overstepped the mark: “I don’t want him to ride the Christiania bike with the children”. At this point the Judge said “No! The tricycle has been such an important part of the bond between Father and children, that a ban would be a step too far”. Even a biased English Judge could see the trauma that depriving us of our Christiania bike would have on the children (and on me).

2. When Christiania Bikes introduced the new aerodynamic Bugatti hood, customers soon began to ask for a rear window, so that parents could monitor what their children were up to in the box. For many years Lars refused to meet this demand; he would say “Children need their little secrets”. I think that this little episode epitomises the deep understanding that Lars and Annie have of children psychology and how they have shaped the bike for the benefit and joy of children, as much as that of their parents. Whereas other competitors have tried to lure parents by appealing to their aesthetic sensibilities, Annie and Lars know that ultimately the tricycle is purchased for the benefit of the children, and children love the freedom of the square box. In my many years of experience of helping families purchase a cargobike, I am convinced the Christiania Bike is the children’s favourite, because they feel that their parents didn’t compromise and bought it for them.

3. Last month I attended a Cargobike Conference in Nijmegen in the Netherlands, exploring the role of cargobikes in our cities, as municipalities redress the ugliness, harm and injustice of car-dominated streets; all over the world, people are realising that unfettered use of motor vehicles destroys cities. At the conference there were delegates from 25 countries, and I have no doubt that, just as it has transformed Copenhagen in the past thirty years, Christiania Bikes will help transforming most cities around the world in the next thirty years.

I therefore wish Christiania Bikes another thirty revolutionary years!

Video of the parade:

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