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A freight bicycle to help take care of the city gardens

Maurice Assionou is a 52-year-old gardener for the city of Brussels. His working zone stretches from the Lemonnier boulevard to Adolphe Max and ends on the other side of the canal. He has been using a freight bicycle for three years now to take care of the flower beds, parks and green spaces. “The benefit of the freight bicycle is that it’s very convenient for circulating in tiny streets like those in the city centre. It’s also lighter than a cart”.

He is the only member of his team who uses a freight bicycle. His boss, Arthur Selema, verifies each construction site once they’re completed on his bike. He is now impatiently awaiting the arrival of two more freight bicycles for his gardeners. “They will help us a lot. We will increasingly need to use this means of transport because of the pedestrian area in Brussels”. Maurice, while waiting for the arrival of the two new freight bicycles, acts like a teacher with his colleagues and teaches them how to steer properly: “Some are afraid of getting on the bicycle and making everything fall, so I am there to reassure them. I have gradually learned to take it easy around street corners, slow down, and so on. It’s also necessary to take good care of it”.

Maurice puts all of his gardening equipment in the freight bicycle: blowing machine, clearing saw, shovels, tools. There is simply not enough room for a lawnmower. In that case, it is brought along thanks to the service van. If it snows, the freight bicycle dumps salt onto the park alleys. “We must clear the way for everyone”.

The gardener immediately accepted to be a part of this project as he loves to pedal. As he was born in Lomé, the capital of Togo, he has been using a bicycle since his tenth birthday. “I had stopped cycling when I came to Belgium because of the weather. I found the weather too cold and too rainy in winter. Ultimately, I enjoy doing some physical exercise and I also have the impression of getting more work done”. He’s even almost convinced by the idea of riding a bicycle for all of his personal whereabouts and journeys to work.

Once a refrigeration engineer in Africa, Maurice never thought he’d one day become a gardener. Today, he feels good and at ease in the outdoors, in nature, surrounded by plants. “Riding a bicycle is 100% environmentally friendly. There is no need to tamper with it. I don’t see myself doing anything else”.

An article from Flavie Gauthier

Photos by Jonathan Borms