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Cargo bike makers interview: Hans Fogh from Larry vs Harry

In this series of interviews, we want to introduce the people behind leading cargo bike companies. We talk about what drives them, their view on mobilty and the secret behind the bikes they produce.

Starting the series we are glad to have someone, you can consider a celebrity of the cargo bike business: Let us introduce, the man with heavy load pushing legs, the “smooth-talking hustler who’ll fix you up with the Bullitt of your wildest dreams”, Mr. (Harry) Bullitt, Hans Fogh from Larry vs Harry.

When he talks about bikes, you can tell by his voice, that he really loves them. Fast bikes, sturdy bikes, beautiful bikes. All of them.
Hans has been riding cargo bikes for over 25years now; all of his three kids were raised in and on cargo bikes. He always had strong legs, as he was often pulling trailers behind Christania bikes, in times when he had to carry around a lot of stuff. Later came butcher’s bikes, then the classic legend, the Long John. When Hans talked about this bike, it was the first time I realized, that I am talking to a Lover. He sold it, but he knows where it is, how it’s doing and that it’s still doing it’s job.

Ten years ago, his family sold the only car: Wife and daughter lost a few tears over the 1980’s Mercedes 230. But Hans was happy.
Only a year later came the Bullitt, built to carry on the heritage of the long John, built to be a modern legend, built to finally take the medal from the car. It should fulfill all the needs of the rider. So it had to be versatile, had to be capable of riding in a variety of environments and able to carry all kinds of load from kids to cargo. In Hans opinion a good cargo bike has to be fast, maneuverable and of good quality. It also had to be appealing to Bike-Enthusiasts like Hans who want their bike also to be aesthetic, those who can sit in the living room and relax while looking at their bike.

“And what did the automobile industry do?
Most of all they just explained to us, that this car is really really sexy and you look really really good while you sit in this car.”

When “Larry and Harry” designed the Bullitt, they didn’t look at other cargo bikes on the market, as most of them where practical but not yet good looking. Instead they looked at what makes an appealing car. Hans knows, that most cars are not bought due to rational criteria, but most reasons when deciding on a car are illogical and emotional. And even though he doesn’t fancy driving one, he is fascinated by their aesthetics.
So they designed the Bullitt with beautiful cars in mind: In order to compete against cars, this cargo bike also had to be sexy. It had to be a two-wheeled, human-powered Mercedes Gullwing, only that this one should have a serious purpose other than looking mesmerizing.

“We can’t just take it for granted that there is a parking spot for everybody”

Larry vs Harry wanted to give people a tool for transportation, that beats the car in any respect. And they succeeded: Mr. Bullitt and his racing team, the Hangovers, prove that it’s fast all the time. The Maker of the Bullitt rides it anywhere and for anything. He uses it to bring home the groceries, occasionally to give his 15year-old daughter a lift, to carry heavy loads and deliveries for the business, and he rides it to feel free.
Hans loves the bike for it being so practical. At the company he can just ride inside and park it next to his desk. No need to search for a parking spot for 15 minutes, just in order to have to walk another kilometer while being packed with stuff for the workshop.

“The automobile industry is the industry that managed to hypnotize the whole universe into saying that THIS is the way of transport”

Hans emphasizes, that he’s not religious about transportation, but he just doesn’t see the car as something practical. Especially inside the city, he says, it just doesn’t make sense. Riding bike is much faster and more convenient, than taking a car. His ride to work for example is 25minutes by bike. By car it would probably be 45minutes.
Even if he moved to the countryside he could imagine to still use the bike and to prove that getting around without a car is still possible.

“It is not natural to see that the cars are covering the street. This is something we learned to accept, because we are some kind of hypnotized”

He likes the idea of clean and independent transportation just as much as I do and agrees that we need some sort of a “revolution” of mobility. He questions the car, it’s status in our daily lives and especially it’s share of public space.
He doesn’t want to accept the status quo, which we got used within the last 100 years. “Why is it legal?!” he askes. Why is it legal to park all over the place and to pollute like a duck takes to water? Why do we think that it is a constitutional right to have a parking spot, while we have less and less room in the cities?

We need a change. A change which, in his opinion, is going on way too slow. At least it IS going on, Hans says, but we need more than just the tiny steps. The motorized lobby is strong though: car manifacturers, oil industry, and all the businesses circulating around cars are opponents, who are not easy to win over. It is hard enough in Copenhagen, so he understands, that in car-manifacturing countries it has to be even harder to take room from the car and invest into an attractive infrastructure for bikes.

Even if there are those big competitors, Hans is optimistic. Bikesales are rising all over the world and people are developing a new conciousness. Even logistics companies are switching their fleets to bikes. DHL for example started off an experiment with Bullitts which should help the green image of the company, but ended saving the company a considerable amount of money. And this is where the game can be changed and city mobility can get cleaner: where cargo bikes can substitute a part of a fleet and safe money. Because in the end corporate companies still put their revenues over the environment. To win this little battle might be one step towards more livable cities.

But in the end Hans is already happy to have done it right:
He built a bike, that works for him. And for a lot of other people. A bike which is fast, fascinating, practical and brings joy to families.

 

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