Archive | Places & Events

Cargo Race: Disaster Relief Trials

A disaster relief drill in the form of a cargo bike competition, simulating a day 4 supply run. Your neighbors need help, do you have a cargo bike?

Reuben Deumling was the fastest male Citizen rider in DRT PDX 2012 (Picture from Event Facebook page)

Reuben Deumling was the fastest male Citizen rider in DRT PDX 2012 (Picture from Event Facebook page)

This October in San Francisco an unusually well organized, thought out, and well-meaning race will be taking over the Presidio: Participants will be testing the effectiveness of their cargo bikes as a means to respond to an emergency situation, where streets are un-navigable by car and supply lines are cut off.

Mike Cobb, co-founder of Disaster Relief Trials along with Travis Wittwer and Ethan Jewett, has helped local organizers host 6 of these events in 4 cities, starting with Portland in 2012.  He originally came up with the idea of using cargo bikes for targeted relief efforts after witnessing the “inadequate Haiti earthquake recovery efforts during the winter and spring of 2010″.

The San Francisco trials race might ring particularly close to home for locals, as it takes place shortly after a 6.0 quake shook the North Bay in August. It also coincides with the 25th anniversary of Loma Prieta earthquake which crippled the Bay Area and caused widespread damage.

The Race

The race itself takes approximately 3 hours. Competitors can define their own route but must stop at all checkpoints, maneuvering along the way through rough terrain, water features and physical barriers all while carriers 50kg of cargo. First place goes to whomever finishes the fastest, although there is a time penalty for breaking any of the 3 inadequately protected eggs, which represent fragile relief supplies and must remain unscathed. Visit the event’s Facebook page for more information.

The goal of the race, says Cobb, is to “show-off the capabilities of the cargo bike under post-disaster conditions” and thus demonstrate their potential as a creative solution to dealing with infrastructure breakdown and providing citizen-led relief when and if first responders are focused on priority rescue missions. The race format was a conscious choice; “I like that people have fun making a powerful advocacy statement,” Cobb adds.

The video below, which can also be found on Vimeo here, is a short clip from the 2012 Portland Race. “There seems to be a widespread belief and conception”, says a participant, “that all the real problems in the world require a truck.”

Above and Beyond the Finish Line

The event is sponsored by Xtracycle Bikes, a Bay Area cargo bike company, which has been advocating for emergency response by bike since 2002. Mike Cobb, Paul Freedman from Rock the Bike, Ross Evans and Nate Byerly from Xtracycle put their heads together and created “The Life Bike”, which Byerly described as a “cargo bike designed for EMTs”. Equipped with a backboard, oxygen, a defibrillator, and other emergency medical supplies, it was designed to provide 911 responders with a means to respond to any incident, in any way possible.

Although the Life Bike was never commercially produced and sold, the team has continued to collaborate with the WorldBike.org project, “a non-profit” Byerly wrote, “that innovates and advocates for bikes in developing world settings.”

As to which bike he would recommend in case of a large scale collapse – Byerly pointed to the Edge Runner, citing “low center of gravity, virtually indestructible small rear wheel, extensive climbing gear range, and quality components” as advantageous benefits in the Disaster Relief Trials race. Xtracycle has donated two bikes which Mike Cobb will optimize for disaster response ahead of the Disaster Relief Trials event.

edge_runner_xtracycle

Integrating Cargo Bikes in Disaster Relief Plans

In a recent blog post, FEMA underlined the need for teamwork in creating a successful emergency plan. The creative addition of cargo bikes to a plan’s toolkit seems to be an easy sell so far. As the Disaster Relief Trials event grows, and the idea of cargo bikes as an tool in times of emergency spreads, the partnership and integration of cargo bikes could become more institutionalized.

And once the value of applying cargo bikes to disaster relief is demonstrated, says Mike Cobb “the discussion of ‘how’ can take place.” Most cities have a program for citizen-led disaster response (see below for links to find one near you), which “allocate basic equipment and training to volunteer citizens who are willing to provide neighborhood-scale disaster recovery leadership and assistance. These small networks,” says Cobb, “could provide the best opportunity for cargo bike response management. I can imagine a registry of cargo bike owners who receive basic training and are willing to be pressed into service during times of need.”

Related links:

Disaster Relief Trials Website

Disaster Relief Trials bring cargo-bike heroism back to Portland – Bike Portland

Going Green: Cargo Bikes Empower Portland Communities in Disaster Preparedness – FEMA

Portland’s Neighborhood Emergency Response Team page

FEMA’s Community Emergency Response page

Find a CERT near you

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International Cargo Bike Festival

International Cargo Bike Festival

International Cargo Bike Festival

This year the International Cargo Bike Festival celebrates its third edition on 12 and 13 April 2014 at Cultuurspinnerij de Vasim in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
The Cargo Bike Festival is the biggest platform for cargobikes and cyclelogistics in the world.

On Saturda

y 12 April the European Cycle Logistics Federation Conference is being held with national and international key note speakers.
Sunday 13 April welcomes the exhibition where visitors, users, designers, manufacturers, DIY-builders and retailers of cargo bikes meet and enter in new relationships.

The European Cyclelogistics Federation participates in the organisation of the event, as does the municipality of Nijmegen and Arnhem Nijmegen City Region.

http://www.cargobikefestival.com/

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Promoting Cargo Cycling in the European Union

Back in May 2011, representatives from NGOs, the government, private sector business and industry analysis firms met in Copenhagen, Denmark to share different ideas for advancing the shift of goods and services transportation to non-motorized modes in European cities. This meeting also lies within the context of the CYCLE Logistics project, whose ultimate goal for 2014 is to save 1,300 tons (465,000 gallons) of fuel, put2,000 more cargo cycles into use in European Union (EU) cities, and shift 10,000 trips to inter-modal transport chains (bicycles and tricycles used with other modes of transportation).
They are trying to encourage CYCLE Logistics under the European Cycling Federation to promote the benefits of cargo cycling. Businesses who use cargo cycling give customers an image of environmental responsibility, they also have a better chance of delivering their goods on time without having to deal with traffic and road infrastructures.
Accessibility is also increased for those business who use cargo tricycles to reach out to people, where stores cannot. As a result, replacing motorized transportation with cargo cycles does not contribute to air quality degradation and pollution.

This is not the first time Europe tries to really encourage the use of cargo cycling as a real means of transport. In the United States, we often regard cargo cycling as a fun weekend pastime or leisurely activity. We don’t really see cargo scooters as being used for professional use – but it’s coming! What really needs to happen, which is what the CYCLE Logistics project strives to do, is promote a behavioral change within a culture. They try pushing Europeans to transport goods and services with cargo cycles—among all individuals, organizations, businesses and levels of government.

In China actually, this has already been the case for a long time. In large cities with dense populations, millions of bicycles and cargo tricycles are being employed for daily transportation of people and goods. Whether it transports garbage, fruit, a mini barbecue, stacks of chairs or hay, the Chinese have been very creative in using cargo scooters in any way to help them with their business or wherever they need to go.

The population density of Chinese cities has resulted in hundreds of millions of bicycles and tricycles being employed for daily transportation, many of which are utilized in the cargo fashions that the CYCLE Logistics project desires to produce.

To read more about this movement and CYCLE Logistics, please visit and read the article from  http://thecityfix.com/blog/the-eu-meets-to-discuss-how-to-promote-cargo-cycling/

Posted in bakfiets, City Cycling, Commuting, Family Cycling, Load Carrying, other topics, Places & Events, Useful References, Work CyclingComments (8)

The Danish Cargo Bike Championships, a classic Copenhagen tradition

Have you ever dreamt about racing your cargo scooter with friends? Well, cargo scooter fans in Copenhagen have already been doing this for the past 11 years!

Every year the Svajerløbet – or the Danish Cargo Bike Championships – takes place in the Carlsberg area in Copenhagen.They have championships in several categories, such as the Svajerløb for kids, men, women, vintage cargo bikes, two or three wheel bikes! It is a non-profit event, really for those who love their cargo bikes.

The name Svajerløb comes from city’s bicycle messengers – known as ‘svajere’ who, decades ago, used to battle in unofficial races for bragging rights on Israels Plads in central Copenhagen.  It was a classic Copenhagen event that disappeared when cars started to dominate the urban landscape. The last race was in 1960. But as a capital full of cargo cyclists, there was much support given to revive the tradition in 2009.

In fact, there are around 40,000 cargo bikes in use each day in Greater Copenhagen and they are the Copenhagen version of the SUV, used for transporting children and goods. 25% of all families with two or more children have a cargo bike in the City of Copenhagen.

If you ever fancy to participate in the race, check out their website: http://www.dmforladcykler.dk/English2011.php

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Flickr Gallery: China Cargo Tricycles

Here’s a nice photo gallery of cargo tricycles in China by BriColeurbanism.

Links:
• Photo Gallery of Cargo Tricycles in China
• Bricoleurbanism.org Website

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Air Pollution in China

air pollution china

air pollution china

I generally try to keep this blog upbeat and focused on bicycles. But, the other day I found a picture I took a couple of years ago during a business trip to China. The photo speaks for itself… The air pollution in China is awful…

This picture was taken in Ningbo City, about three hours drive from Shanghai. In the early 1990s, most people in China were still using bicycles or mass transit. Cars were a luxury for the rich. Back then the air was clean given the size of the population. But now in many of the factory towns across China, your eyes water as soon as you step out the front door.

The sad thing is we keep blaming China for all of this, but most of those poluting factories are making products that are bound for US and European markets. Basically we’ve just exported our pollution creating factories and jobs to China. Anyway, everytime I go to Costco, I always get a sense that I’m just adding to this cycle…

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New Urbanism

I ran into this video about New Urbanism, which is the trend in urban planning which promotes walkable livable cities. This video is a really cool intro to the whole idea. Hopefully the idea of using bicycles for transport in these new cities will take off.

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Portland Bicycle Culture

There was a great New York Times article and video cast about the bicycle culture in Portland Oregon.

NY Times Video
NY Times Article

The citizens of Portland have done a great job of making Portland one of the most vibrant and livable cities in the US. It’s got everything a world class city has to offer and you’re only a short ride from some very scenic areas such as the Columbia River Gorge. Definitely a great place for a bicycle holiday.

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Chinese Bicycle Factories

A few months ago during a business trip to China, my friend an import export broker invited me to visit some bicycle factories with him during my day off. Always on the lookout for new products and suppliers for his clients, he regularly visits Chinese factories. I jumped at the chance and toured three different bike factories with him.

The factories were in Tianjin City about an hour outside of Beijing. Tianjin is a massive port and factory town. The city is drab and heavily polluted. You literally couldn’t see more than three blocks due to the air pollution. Tianjin is famous in China for being the hub of bicycle manufacturing in China. With over 200 bicycle companies in Tianjin, we only had time to visit three.

The factories varied greatly. The first was a former gov’t owned company that made sturdy low-end bicycles for sale in developing countries. The second was a state of the art OEM supplier for US bike companies. The last was a modern factory that made bicycles for the China market under their own brand name.

The first factory we visited, the Tianjin Flying Pigeon Bicycle Company, was a former gov’t owned company. It is a fixture in Chinese society, famous for having made billions of bicycles since it was established by Chairman Mao fifty years ago. You’ll see their classic bicycles providing basic transportation for people all over the developing world.

What surprised me most about the TFPBC was how friendly the people were. They had an easy going rythmn similar to farmers working the fields and were always easy with a smile. The factory was run in an informal style and the buildings showed their age. There were even a couple of stray dogs that the workers adopted that were wandering the factory. The equipment was old, manufacturing techniques dated, and quality control questionable. I even saw workers smoking cigarettes while working the line. However for me the whole experience was like a history lesson. Entering their factory was like traveling back in time to the communist era.

The Factory Experience: Time proven manufacturing methods for the world’s most popular bicycle…

Although they manufacture other bicycles these days, they continue to build the classic Flying Pigeon Bike. Their biggest customer thesedays, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Photos: Tianjin Flying Pigeon Bicycle Company Factory Photos I’ll post more about Tianjin City and the other factories later. Stay tuned and thanks for stopping by.

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Ed Begley Jr. & Daryl Hannah Ride iZip Electric Bike

Renowned actress Daryl Hannah took time out of her busy schedule to participate in the Los Angeles County River Ride. A long time supporter of green initiatives, Ms. Hannah rode to support the LA County Bicycle Coalition. She road an iZip electric bicycle given to her by actor and longtime green activist, Ed Begley Jr.

Check out the following links to catch up on cycling in LA:

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China International Bicycle Show 2007

Just posted photos from the 2007 China International Bicycle & Motor Show in Shanghai. It was gigantic. There were 5697 booths in 9 buildings that covered 105000 square meters of convention hall. The manufacturers were definitely not holding back.

Many of the designs were based on European and American designs. However, there were bicycles and other products that were uniquely Chinese. I was pleasantly surprised at the huge variety of electric bicycles, e-scooters, and e-motorcycles that were on display. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

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Hybrid Commuting (Shanghai China Maglev Train Video)

VideoplaymaglevI edited some video of the Shanghai Maglev Train from a recent business trip to China. We covered the 40 km distance from downtown Shanghai to the airport in 8 minutes. Top speed 430 kph (267 mph).

It’s not directly related to cargo bicycles, but more so with hybrid commuting (using a bicycle locally and a train between cities). Imagine if a high density region like the US West Coast corridor (Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, LA, and San Diego) were connected with a high speed rail line like this.

It would definitely make hybrid commuting a more viable and enjoyable option. Plus imagine all the fun bicycle tours that become a realistic option. The rail lines wouldn’t have to be magnetic.

But wouldn’t that be cool?

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Public Restroom on a Trike


Public Restroom
Originally uploaded by jkoshi.

My friend JKoshi captured this photo during a trip to China. If you’re a parent of small kids, you’d appreciate the convenience. hmm… I wonder if you can do this in a car?

Check out the rest of Koshi’s Flickr albums. He’s got lots of other great travel and bike photos.

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Shanghai Farmer’s Market Live Action Video

OrangefarmerI finally got around to editing my video from the Shanghai farmer’s market. This short video clip captures how the farmer’s use the bicycles as mobile storefronts and how they’ve modified the bikes with local materials for their own needs. I hope you enjoy the video. If you’d like to use it for non-commercial use feel free to send me an email.

Live action video of farmer’s bicycles in Shanghai China

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North American Handmade Bicycle Show 2007 (San Jose, CA)

AhearneI just posted my photos from the North American Handmade Bicycle Show at the San Jose Convention Center. There was a huge number of custom bicycle builders from all over the world attending the show. The variety of bikes ranged from all out velomobiles to rat bikes built with found materials. It was great talking with the builders who went out of their way to be friendly and answer any questions.

Some of the themes I noticed throughout the show:

Some fun stuff I saw at the show:

My photos from the show on Flickr

Posted in City Cycling, Commuting, DIY, Family Cycling, Load Carrying, Mobility Impaired, Places & Events, Portable, Touring, Useful References, Work CyclingComments (2)

Shanghai Farmer’s Market Photos & Slideshow (Shanghai China)

FlowerfarmerJust finished a video slideshow of bicycle photos I took during a business trip to Shanghai. There was a Chinese farmer’s market near our hotel and it was cool seeing the bikes used as mobile storefronts. It was even cooler seeing local materials used to modify the bikes.

I got a chuckle trying to imagine how a farmer would MOD a high end carbon fiber road bike. heh heh…

I’ll post some live-action video footage when I finish editing it. For now, here are links to the slideshow and my photos on flickr.

Video slideshow (9.9 Mb streaming video file)

Still photos on my Flickr page

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