Treading lightly, undertaker in Bern turns cargo bike into hearse

For a last ride that's less funereal and more eco-minded, an undertaker in Bern is offering transportation by cargo bike. Aurora Bestattungen started using its pedal-powered hearse in May 2021.

A customized Urban Arrow cargo e-bike, the 'Bestattervelo' or funeral bike features a semi-open top that protects coffins without hiding them, and the bike's electric assist makes for an effortless ride.

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More so than traditional hearses, a bicycle hearse commingles death and everyday life. Coffins on bicycles are almost intimately visible, given the slower speed at which they travel and their proximity to pedestrians. Advocating an open approach to death, Aurora is part of Bärn treit, a city-lead movement to tackle taboos surrounding dying and death.

Bern isn't the first city to see coffins transported by bicycle — cargo bikes are an option for funerals in bike-friendly nations like Denmark and the Netherlands — though uncommon even there. The funeral industry is notoriously resistant to change, but as more people take up cycling and adopt sustainable lifestyles, demand for alternative modes of transport after death is sure to grow.

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