Wednesday, October 7, 2009

On Leaving the Auto World

Those of us who live in Portland are lucky enough to say that we live in the bike friendliest city in the US (with the highest percentage of bike commuters at 6.4%). That means we have designated bike lanes, routes, paths, and a couple bike tracks (using parked cars as the barrier between bike flow and auto traffic). We also have a bike shop every 8 blocks. It all adds up to making it really easy to say good-bye to der auto and hello to biking as the main mode of transportation.

At our farm we have several bikes. Flora makes her daily commute to downtown on her KHS commuter that has been outfitted with a rear rack and a Citybikes Bucket.

Granted, the rack and bucket are useful for a daily commute but lack the cargo room when it comes to groceries or more. Enter my bike. I built it myself from the frame up. It has an older Trek frame with Xtracycle's Free Radical kit attached to add the cargo room. And let me tell you about the cargo room... it can haul just about everything- from the weekly groceries to books to corrugated roofing, to a pair of 3-cubic-liter bales of compost. I have wide-loaders that clip in on the bottom to act as a shelf I can set things on top of when they get too heavy or bulky to stuff into the panniers (which expand to accommodate lots, but can be awkward sometimes since they attach on the back side, not the bottom- they swing a bit sometimes). I use this for my daily commute to work too. It's not much of a weight difference than a regular bike, and I like the looks I get sometimes.

When we need to really haul some cargo, we use Flora's cargo bike. It's a Yuba Mundo. Originally designed for the 3rd world and developing nations, it can haul up to 440 pounds of cargo. We've used it to carry the reclaimed lumber for our building projects. We've also made a pair of custom panniers that perfectly fit the cargo rack for items that are too small to strap onto the frame. This bike isn't so much a daily commuter due to its weight (and its meaty tires) but it sure gets the job done otherwise.

I don't have a car and Flora is in the process of casting off her's. Soon we'll be cycle-only. As such, we've given lots of thought to how we're going to get everything around- especially if we move or if we decide to start a farm stall at the markets. We've come up with a few solutions.

#1: The Bakfiets (Dutch for box bike). I want to get one of these in the next year or two.

#2: Trailers. I've designed a trailer that can haul tubs of produce with ease. I hope to build it this winter (and will put up a post about it when I do).

In the mean time, we're not struggling to make things work by any means. Transportation is a breeze. In fact, we enjoy biking everywhere so much we've done a few race/supported rides and plan to do some bike camping and touring at some point.

So yes, pedal onto the revolution!


1 comment:

  1. Hmm, yes... and already we've discovered the need to build some sort of bike shelter rather than leaving our rides to the elements.