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This Christmas, get your tree delivered by bike

Posted by on November 25th, 2009 at 11:42 am

A “Rider of Yule” at your service.
(Photo: TreesByBike.com)

Portlander Max Kirchoff plans to spread holiday cheer around the city in a novel way this year. He’s launched TreesByBike.com, a new service that will deliver locally grown Christmas trees by bike.

Max, a.k.a. the “Yule Dispatcher”, says the idea came to him last year as he pedaled home from the lot with a tree stuffed into his messenger bag. “I rode it home, and rather than the occasional rude honk or swerving or bad mojo I get from drivers, people were honking and cheering me.”

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Max told us he has fond family memories of being huddled around a tree on Christmas eve. “It wasn’t just about religion or beliefs, it was about coming together, it was about everybody being loved and seen as important.”

To make his business even more important, Max will donate 10% of each order to charity. The couriers, a.k.a. “Riders of Yule” can choose whichever organization they want as the beneficiary.

Max says he’s not sure how the business will turn out this year (he hasn’t quit his day job or anything), but he enjoys doing “good things” with his time. “I love riding my bike, I love what it says about progress and sustainability, and I also love Christmas trees. Why not bring them together?”

Visit TreesByBike.com to order your tree and help spread two-wheeled holiday cheer this season.

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  • BikePortland.org Write Up – Trees By Bike November 25, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    [...] Link to: “This Christmas, get your tree delivered by bike” by BikePortland.org [...]

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  • Nick November 25, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Why didn’t I think of this idea???

    Will the tree still be squished up in a bike bag? Lets hope they have some sort of bike trailer or cargo bike.

    ~n

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  • [...] I’ve been working at and I don’t even have the energy left to talk about it, haha. Jonathan Maus at BikePortland.org really put the story best. Brief and [...]

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  • TreesByBike November 25, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    We do use trailers AND bags. But don’t worry, the trees can be bound without affecting their shape. This is actualy how many are transported to lots.
    Once you cut the bounding and let it sit, it takes a nice form after a few minutes.

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  • joel November 25, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    ive been riding out to old germantown road for the past few christmases, to the closest (i think) cut-your-own christmas tree place i know of – bombing germantown and riding over the st johns bridge with a 6 foot christmas tree on the cargo bike never fails to get awesome positive reactions, so i know what theyre talking about there…

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  • Anonymous November 26, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Sorry but cutting down a tree to decorate seems like the antithesis of green.

    This type of tree farming is the worst kind of farming, in that it doesn’t provide any use to society. Doesn’t feed anyone, doesn’t provide building materials, nothing.

    You want to be green, don’t buy a tree.

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  • andrew November 27, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Dear (6) Anonymous,

    Christmas trees are overwhelmingly agricultural products. Often people make money from agricultural products. Often that money is used to purchase things like food. The don’t require an insane amount of soil degradation, herbicides or pesticides, and they are replanted and regrown frequently. Many family’s will also chop that tree into burnable logs as well to heat the home when the holiday’s are over.

    Sure this isn’t a perfect system, however this is the way things are done in Oregon. If you don’t like it I’m sure your friends and family back where you come from (probably the Midwest? most definitely a suburb) would love to have you back. I’m sure they more than us they would be more tolerant to the semi- ignorant, reactionary, self righteous and congratulatory thoughts that you have developed while slanging coffee and riding your “fixie” in the “green” streets of “P-town”.

    No need to defend yourself to me Anonymous. I have no need to return to this exhilarating story of tree hustling.

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  • Anonymous November 27, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Do people actually still think that fixed gear without brakes is cool? Especially when hauling cargo?

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  • are November 27, 2009 at 10:59 am

    if you kids can’t play nice, I am going to have to take away your crayons. “how we do things in oregon” isn’t really an answer. how they do things in some places is they throw you in prison and sell off your body parts. burning the tree afterwards is not necessarily a good thing. the question anonymous 6 seems to be asking is whether farming xmas trees is a sustainable practice, whether the land could be put to a better use. if the answer is that the land is otherwise not arable, it should be possible to give that as a civil answer. it might be nice if treesbybike would say something on their website about the farms from which they buy, and it might be nice if they said something about how to dispose of the tree when the holiday is past. maybe they could arrange to pick up the trees and take them to a compost yard. let’s leave the hate and raging to the motorists. and why is everyone so obsessed with what someone else is riding? now, get out there and buy some stuff.

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  • Anonymous November 27, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Sorry Andrew, native Oregonian here, and from a rather small town that lived and died by lumber.

    Sure it’s the way it’s done, but then again, one person driving in a car to work is the way it is done. Burning the seed fields in the Willamette valley is the way it is done. Strip mining in Appalachia is the way it is done. Deforesting in South America is the way it is done.

    I’ll just roll over and let things happen the way they always have. Jonathan should stop posting to bikeportland.org because things are just peachy the way they are, he doesn’t need to continue making a difference.

    Hey everyone, Andrew says the way it is, is the way it should always be. No need to make an effort to improve the world.

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  • david....no the other one November 27, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Boy do some people need hugs or what.

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  • beth h November 30, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Hey Max — great idea!

    Would you be into delivering Chanukah candles too?
    Seriously.
    I have been slammed and cannot get away to go find some, and this being Portland they’re not exactly found at every corner drug store…
    Ride safe and enjoy the holidays!

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  • Troy November 30, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Anonymous 6
    I managed a tree farm for 8 years, so I can answer your concerns. Trees are grown in substantial numbers in Oregon because they require little care- like irrigation, fertilizer, and pesticides compared to other crops. While, yes, some land that is in Christmas trees could be used for food production, that is about the end of your legitimate complaints. Trees can be grown w/o the use of fertilizers and pesticides, if that’s you thing, they naturally decompose or can be recycled completely when the season is over, tree farms are extensive homes to wildlife, trees produce oxygen and suck up carbon when growing. An artificial tree does none of these things. If you’re against the consumerism of purchasing a tree, well, then you can grow your own in your backyard with a little knowledge, instead of purchasing one from the thousands fo family farmers in Oregon doing it for you.

    Unlike most other agricultural industries, tree farming does not have enormous agribusinesses controlling it. While there are large commercial farms, they are mostly independent of each other, and for the most part family owned.

    If you don’t want to cut down a tree, many nuseries stock potted trees that you can decorate indoors for the holiday season, and then plant in your yard when the holidays are over. That would be an excellent tradition to start. But then again, that doesn’t provide any benifit to society either according to you. I would just stay home if I were you.

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  • Anonymous November 30, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Troy,

    So there’s no environmental impact when you cut down a tree well before it has met it’s natural life span? What is the impact on oxygen production?

    Do all tree farms grow treas from seed or do they buy seedlings from specialty nurseries? Do these seedlings get delivered in a green manner or are they trucked in?

    How do the trees get harvested and delivered to market? All green or are trucks involved once more?

    I know many independent growers, using their 10 acre lots to grow trees for nothing more than to get the agricultural deferment on their property taxes.

    To promote this deliver service as green without looking at the business in its entirety is a joke. Because it is a business like any other where the bottom line is what matters and the green side is laughable. Still uses water, fertilizer and pesticides even if in less amounts than other crops.

    Would we be better off if these tree farms were left in their natural state?

    How about leaving the trees in the forest, alive and thriving, rather than cutting one down for decoration?

    Do you all really need a tree to gather friends and loved ones around to celebrate the season?

    I appreciate the personal attacks as well. If your argument can’t stand on its merits attack your opponent.

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  • Troy December 2, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Hi Anonymous,

    I think that there is nothing that a human can do that does not involve some sort of environmental impact. If anyone looks at a “business in its entirety” then there will always be some environmental impact. If the goal is to lessen that impact, then you should choose a business that shares your values. It sounds like that is what this business is doing.

    Now, if you want to impeach a business for falsely claiming to be “green” go right ahead- because no business will have zero environmental impact.

    Your issue sounds like it involves larger questions about consumerism and its impact, than one person delivering christmas trees by bike.

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  • TreesByBike December 7, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Anonymous,
    I will answer your arguments as simply as I can. There is not one single business that meets your requirements. It is fatalism to think that small movements away from our current ways is “not enough” or “not green enough” or “laughable”. Before the civil rights movement, it was HUGE to befriend folks of different ethnicity. However today, some would call that “laughable” in light of our cultural development and progress. I’m not painting a portrait of our business as having a huge environmental impact, and I don’t mean to say we are anything compared to civil rights movements.
    We are doing something simple. We’re removing the use of a car to transport cut trees in town. Nothing more, nothing less. We aren’t proposing for people who do not celebrate or celebrate with live trees to use our service. Our target market is people who would have a tree anyway and drive to pick it up normally.
    I’m sorry that you find our service so offensive, however I do not need your support. I learned long ago that best is the enemy of better. It is something you should consider.

    I get to ride my bike, spread holiday cheer, and have a better impact on the world around me.

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  • Katie December 13, 2009 at 9:11 am

    I love what TreesByBike is doing. It’s joyful and communal, and more green than other tree-getting methods.

    We don’t require birthday cakes or coffee or stylish clothes or art or even electricity or bread in order to live. Those things are choices that meet our desire for self-expression, comfort and social interaction. Needs are not only our physical requirements, but things that enrich our human experience. Christmas trees have a great power to do that.

    Imperfect green efforts are better than no efforts. We don’t have to be perfected in our greenness, we just have to be ‘green enough’. I appreciate all efforts: from folks who decide that not cutting a tree, (or not having children, or not eating meat) is their contribution, to folks who decide that the tree (child, meat) tradition serves an emotional or ritualistic need and make mindful, even if imperfect, choices in getting their needs met.

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  • Susan December 13, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    I totally agree with Katie.
    The most important thing we can do is have conversation that enlightens, encourages and educates.
    If we all do what we are capable or comfortable doing I think we will see the next steps we can take towards sustainability.

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