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Cargo bikes

Welcome to our coverage of cargo bikes. From the first shipment of bakfiets to arrive on U.S. soil, to the latest trends in business and designs, we’ve covered cargo bikes since the beginning. Scroll down to browse our stories. (If you have a cargo bike story idea, please get in touch.)

From trucks to trikes: Portland Mercury now delivered with pedal power

Thursday, October 31st, 2013
Michael Hanchin, left, drove a Portland Mercury delivery truck for 5 years before successfully pitching the company on a plan to switch to cargo trikes in the inner west side.
(Photo © M. Andersen/BikePortland)

Michael Hanchin couldn’t take any more hours behind the wheel.

“You would never know where there’s a loading zone,” the veteran Portland Mercury delivery contractor, 42, recalled Wednesday. “I think that’s what did me in.”

Hanchin’s back ached from crawling into the bed of his truck to haul out 18-pound newspaper bundles on hands and knees. His fuel and repair costs were eating up his contract income. Sometimes, when he couldn’t find anywhere to park downtown, he’d sit behind his wheel and glare at other contractors while they ate lunch in their rigs, hogging the available space.

Then, after five years of delivering the Mercury to inner Southwest Portland every Wednesday, Hanchin had a revelation.


First look: The new NTS Works ’2×4′ e-bike brings cargo up a notch

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
Neal Saiki sits on the waist-high cargo bed of the new 2×4 cargo bike.
(Photos © M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Some cargo bikes, built for personal freight and boxes, are low and light. Others, built for kids and errands, are deep and sturdy.

The cargo bike Neal Saiki is about to bring to market has a new formula. It’s built to operate at the height that most of the world’s work actually gets done: approximately three feet in the air.

But for the 2×4 cargo e-bike, which Saiki showed off in Portland this week, a waist-high cargo bed is just the beginning.


Bikes help power non-profit’s fruit tree harvest

Monday, August 19th, 2013
Bike-powered urban fruit tree harvesters.
(Photos by Betsy Reese)

Back in May, we shared how the connection between bikes and urban trees here in Portland is so strong it’s garnered national recognition. Now there’s another tree-related non-profit that has tapped into the power of bicycles to help further their mission.

The Portland Fruit Tree Project had a “Bike-Powered Harvesting Party” on Saturday in southeast Portland. The non-profit organizes volunteers to harvest and take care of fruit trees that would otherwise be neglected. Half of the fruit goes to a local food bank (via their distribution partner Urban Gleaners) and the rest is taken home by everyone who participates in the harvest. (more…)

What to expect at the Disaster Relief Trials

Friday, July 12th, 2013
It’s here! The biggest event of its kind in the world.

One of the most interesting and influential bike events in Portland starts with a kickoff party tonight. The Disaster Relief Trials was first held last year at Velo Cult Bike Shop in Hollywood and since then the event has ridden a wave of interest, gotten attention from local, regional, and even national agencies, and has spawned imitators in Vancouver (BC), Seattle, Eugene, and other cities.

This year’s event features two big parties, the Trials themselves, and the “Cargo Bike Fair” — a huge gathering of cargo bikes and the people who love them. I’ll share more about what’s on tap, and highlight a few of the bikes and riders below…

Portland’s cargo bike businesses attract national media spotlight

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Portland’s flourishing cargo bike scene has once again made major national headlines. Over the holiday weekend, the owners of Joe Bike, B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery, and Portland Pedal Power — all local businesses that use or sell cargo bikes — were featured in articles in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal (the top two U.S. newspapers by circulation).

On Friday (July 5th), writer Tom Vanderbilt wrote a comprehensive story about how cargo bikes have become, “the new station wagon” in America. The story prominently mentions Joe Bike owner Joe Doebele and refers to him as the country’s largest seller of the Yuba Mundo cargo bike: (more…)

From e-bikes to recumbents, Portland’s niche bike shops find success

Monday, July 1st, 2013
Coventry Cycle Works-1
Coventry Cycles has found a comfortable
niche with recumbents.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

With (at least) 69 bike shops in Portland — that’s one for every two square miles, in case you’re keeping track — we’re often asked how they can all survive. The bike shop business isn’t easy; but one way to stand out in the crowd and be successful is to find a niche (or create a new one) and then develop it into a healthy market. Several Portland bike shop owners have done precisely that. And they’ve done it well.

Powered by high-touch marketing and nurtured by Portland’s seemingly bottomless love of interesting bikes, a handful of small-scale entrepreneurs have taken big risks on bike shops that fit both their personal passions and market niches that bigger companies either couldn’t serve or didn’t even know existed.

Here’s a quick take on each of three specialized Portland bike shops whose bets are paying off.

Dispatch from Disaster Relief Trials in Seattle

Monday, June 24th, 2013
Portlander Mike Cobb competed at the
Seattle Disaster Relief Trials.
(Photo by Fred Bretsch – FEMA Region 10)

Seattle cargo bike advocates held their first Disaster Relief Trials event over the weekend. The event sprung up thanks to inspiration from Portland’s event of the same name that was held last year. Portlander Mike Cobb traveled north for the event and sent back a few photos and notes…


Portland Farmer’s Market debuts ‘Produce Pedaler’ cargo bike mini-mart

Friday, May 3rd, 2013
A cargo bike mini-mart debuted at Buckman
Farmer’s Market yesterday.
(Photos: Portland Farmer’s Market)

Portland’s love of cargo bikes just took another big step. And I mean big. The folks who run Portland Farmer’s Market debuted their new “Produce Pedaler” cargo bike at the Buckman market yesterday. The bike is an old-fashioned style, extra-large, classic Dutch bakfiets. It has a load capacity of 660 lbs and it’s nearly 12 feet long.

The bike will travel to the eight different Portland Farmer’s Markets around town throughout the season. It’s set up as a mini-market and will offer vegetables and produce, flowers, and assorted goodies from market vendors. PFM Operations Director Jaret Foster says, “Having a mobile market bike has been a longtime dream. The Produce Pedaler not only creates another sales opportunity for our vendors, it’s also the perfect way to bring together Portland’s celebrated bike culture and regional bounty in a fun and memorable way. We hope this beautiful three-wheeled vehicle becomes a Portland icon…” (more…)

Popular Yuba Mundo cargo bike recalled for possible foot injuries

Friday, March 22nd, 2013
Sunday Parkways 09 -50
The Mundo longtail cargo bike, sold by Yuba Bicycles, is popular for carrying all types of cargo; especially small children.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)


Local business finds niche with cargo bike canopies

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
Cargo bike canopy from Blaq Design-11
Jeremy Neal (L) and Paul Johnson of Blaq Design
at their shop on SE 11th and Division.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

You know the local bike industry is healthy when niches are created within niches. That seems to be what’s happening now in Portland’s thriving cargo bike scene. Made up of advocates, builders, retailers, and buyers, our local cargo bike industry is alive and well.

Blaq Design is just one local business riding the wave.

Paul Johnson and Jeremy Neal are the men behind Blaq. They moved to Portland from Ohio back in 2010 and have been gaining a strong foothold ever since by making both stock and custom messenger bags, backpacks and other products. By 2010, Portland’s cargo bike industry was already several years old and Johnson and Neal wasted no time getting involved with it. At the Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show that year, they debuted an innovative fabric cargo bin created through a collaboration with Joe Bike owner Joe Doebele. (more…)

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