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Portland’s pedal-powered street library blooms into a beloved institution

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014
talking to J with paper
Street Books founder Laura Maulton talks last week with patrons Jonathan and Bam.

After four summers loaded with all the paperbacks you can fit on a cargo trike, Portland’s most public library is rolling merrily forward.
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For Portland startup Project 529, fighting bike theft is just the beginning

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014
529 space
The Project 529 team in the office on Wednesday. Their new free mobile app makes it far easier to track and report a stolen bike, but the company has bigger plans.
(Photos by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Working from an office high above Interstate Avenue, a team of Portlanders has spent the last year quietly building what might be the country’s most ambitious bike-specific software company.

Funded out of pocket by three co-founders and led by the lead creator of the XBox, the ten-person company calling itself Project 529 hit the Internet last month with a web and mobile app that aspires to be a next-generation Stolen Bicycle Registry and with an attention-grabbing petition asking eBay and Craigslist to begin requiring serial numbers for the bikes they sell.

But the most interesting part of Project 529, which is pronounced “five two nine” in reference to the hours of rest and recreation, is what it wants to do.

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SprocketFly.com creates a web platform for bike-repair housecalls

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014
Sprocket Fly techs Reid Lustig (left) and Sam Appelbaum
(right) with the service’s first client, Aaron Kaffen
of local web services firm Cloudability.
(Photo courtesy Sprocket Fly.)

Portland is great at delivering things by bike: flowers, pizza, beer, plumbing. A new company wants to be a platform for delivering … bike repairs.

The two-week-old Sprocket Fly is a mobile bike repair service that plans to affiliate with several different bike technicians who’ll travel to homes and businesses for on-site repairs.

“I’m not a huge aggressive commuter or biker, but I enjoy biking, me and my wife and kid here in Northeast Portland,” Sprocket Fly founder Dan Hahn said. “One of the things that has always been a pain for us is getting it into the shop.”

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COG Space will offer co-working space and services for bike-related startups

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
Dave Hoch of CogSpace
Dave Hoch, co-founder of The Cog Space.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

A “recovering SUV driver” with a master’s degree in sustainable business and a job in Portland’s tech sector is setting out to bring two good ideas from the tech industry into the bicycle world: business accelerators and unconference events.

Dave Hoch has just lined up a new co-working space that sets out to serve as an accelerator for Portland’s ever-growing universe of bike-related businesses. Hoch is also hosting an “unconference” event next week designed to bring together people of all sorts interested in “the bike economy.”

Hoch, 33, has been working since December to plan The COG Space. As of this week, he’s sealed a partnership with Forge, a new co-working space for social entrepreneurs and nonprofits that’s planning to open in May at 1410 SW Morrison Street, just west of Interstate 405 near downtown.

Hoch said in an interview last month that in talking with entrepreneurs in the bike world, he’s “hearing they’re really good at their craft, but they’re not business people.”

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Why use bikes for business? Two Portlanders share their stories

Thursday, April 18th, 2013
Two more bike-based businesses.

Recently I’ve learned about two more Portland businesses that have made bicycles an integral part of their business. Crank Roasting is a new coffee company and Co-Creative Pruning has been in business since 2010. I asked the owners of both businesses to share more about what they do and why they’ve decided to use bicycles.

Cory Love, owner of Crank Roasting:

“I have been involved in coffee roasting over the last 15 years. My love of riding and racing bikes goes back to my childhood – racing BMX through the late 70′s and 80′s and then in my mid 20′s I got into road cycling and racing. As my family and business became busier in my 30′s, I was finding it harder to ride consistently. I started dreaming about a way to be able to have bicycling be integral to my business.”

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Three new bike-based businesses spring up

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

I’m happy to have three more bike-based businesses to introduce you to. Two of them are food-related, and we’ve got yet another service-related bike business (to add to the plumber, landscaper, general contractor, couriers, and others!).

Momo Cart

Momo Cart is a food cart run out of a bike trailer that sells Nepalese steamed dumplings. The cart opened in June and is the work of Evan Feenstra and his business partners Roshan and Hailey Bhai (Roshan is a native of Nepal). Evan says momos are standard snacking fare in Nepal and they’ve kept the same recipe you’d find on the streets there. Another tradition they follow is to pulling the cart by bike, which Evan says is often how they’re sold in Nepal. (more…)

Catching up with Portland’s ‘Builder by Bike’

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012
Chris Sanderson, a general contractor who
works by bike, has had a successful first
year in business.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Back in February, I introduced you to Chris Sanderson, a licensed general contractor who runs his entire business from a cargo bike with a trailer attached. In an industry where big trucks are the norm, Chris’s story stands out among Portland’s growing crop of bike-based businesses. I ran into him the other day and learned he’s celebrating a very successful first year in business.

Hoping to learn more about Chris’s experiences, I asked him a few questions via email…

How was your first year in business?

My first year in business has been a learning experience. I never planned to be in business for myself and I have learned valuable lessons, sometimes the hard way. One thing that I did not anticipate going into this was the amount of administrative/overhead time that it takes to run a business. I am starting to learn that I need to account for the hours running the business, and adjust my rates appropriately to cover those costs. Needless to say, I am beginning to understand why contractors charge what they charge. When I first started doing this business, I was charging $20/hour, which is super cheap compared to many contractors, and now I am starting to see that I need to charge about $45-55/hour to cover my overhead costs. Some people tell me that is still super cheap, but I have the advantage of not having automobile expenses.
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New mobile bike repair business, ‘Rolling Wrench’, opens for business

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Another bike-based business has set up shop on the streets of Portland. Rolling Wrench, “Portland’s bike shop on wheels,” is a mobile bicycle repair business and brainchild of Tim Ennis. Tim is a veteran of several bike shops whose independent streak left him wanting to go out on his own.

“I’ve worked for various bike shops over the years, and finally got fed up with trying to do something I love on someone else’s terms,” he told me via email this morning.

Tim opened Rolling Wrench in Boston last May and says it was a huge success. He moved to Portland over the winter (to be closer to family), and hoped to open a similar business in the spring. It took a bit longer than he planned to get things rolling; but he opened for business this week and says things are going great so far. (more…)

Portland Pedal Power launches cargo bike enclosure sales

Monday, May 7th, 2012
Portland Pedal Power’s cargo enclosure.

Portland Pedal Power is a local bike business that delivers food, beer and wine, groceries and other products throughout the city. Their fleet consists of Yuba Mundo longtail cargo bikes with custom made enclosures that attach to the rear racks.

The enclosures are a nifty way to hold cargo and they have a highly visible presence on the road.

In the nearly five years they’ve been in business the enclosures have gone through many iterations and design refinements. Now, after receiving many inquiries about them from other local businesses, Portland Pedal Power is selling them as a stand-alone product. (more…)

Portland’s coffee bike arms race (and other cargo bike news)

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Trailhead’s latest.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

In the past I’ve documented Portland’s strong and rich connection between coffee and bikes. I’ve also shared how this city is absolutely bonkers for cargo bikes in all of their many manifestations. Well, it turns out that those two trends are continuing to push local coffee and bike lovers to new heights.

Here are a few dispatches from the front lines of Portland’s coffee bike arms race (followed by several, non-coffee cargo bike news updates): (more…)

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