Harvest Century September 22nd

Local builder gets $15,000 boost to build “bike-cars”

Posted by on March 8th, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Johnnie Olivan-5

Johnnie Olivan.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Johnnie Olivan of Portland-based Rejuiced Bikes has won a $15,000 commission to build a mini-fleet of “bike-cars.” Olivan has already been riding several of his bike-cars around Portland, but he’ll use the money to take the design to the next level.

The commission comes from a joint project by Seattle-based non-profits 4Culture and Great City. Olivan replied to a call for ideas through Great City’s aLIVe project, which “aims to spark interaction across disciplines, showcase ideas and suggest action around issues of energy, livability and design.”

A side-view of an early bike-car design.
(Photo: Johnnie Olivan)

The aLIVe project, which stands for A Low Impact Vehicle Exploration, was born from an event put together by Seattle artist Cheryl los Remedios. Here’s more about aLIVe from Great City:

“A Low Impact Vehicle exploration is an artist-initiated, multi-phase effort to re-imagine our transportation system as designed around the human body. Right now, we design vehicles to withstand high-impact collisions, and our roads move freight and people at high speeds. aLIVe asks, How can we make transportation safer for our own biology and use less fossil fuel, reduce vehicular emissions, and prevent unchecked growth of the transportation network?”

Johnnie Olivan-4

This version has a large shelf
for hauling and two speakers
in the back.

Olivan was one of eight recipients to win a commission. He has already built several bike cars and has been riding and testing them on the streets of Portland for over seven months. This funding will allow him to take the design to the next level.

When I met with Olivan over the weekend, he said he’s most excited about how the money will allow him to improve his design. He’s especially interested in a version of his bike-car that incorporates a hand-cycle that can be accessed and driven by someone in a wheelchair. A ramp flips out and the wheelchair rolls right into position.

Check out the schematic:

Other designs he’s working on are a bike-car that doubles as a rainwater catcher and a “mini school bus” Olivan says will fit up to six kids. In addition to getting high marks for utility, Olivan says riding one of his bike-cars is just a lot of fun. “People that have experienced the bike-car always say, ‘This is so much fun, I’ll go the store with this just because it’s fun to ride.'”

Another interesting aspect of Olivan’s work is that he builds out of used bikes exclusively. Olivan is a master at making useful products out of used bikes and parts. I profiled his cargo trailers a few months ago and he has kept busy of late doing custom work for Klean Kanteen, the Community Cycling Center, the Sprockettes and others.

A short film about the bike-car (produced by Olivan) will be shown at the upcoming Filmed By Bike festival.

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15 Comments
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    Noah Genda March 8, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Awesome, well done Johnnie.

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    Cargo March 8, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Congratulations!

    Way to push some imaginative ideas and solutions.

    I believe that the non profit Great City was founded by the new bikey Seattle Mayor, Mike McGinn.

    All good things for the Pacific NW!

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    Michael M. March 8, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    It’s really interesting to see all these kinds of creative avenues being explored, then wonder how these things can change our built environments over time. Cool designs!

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    Jay March 8, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    I’ll preface this with “I’m a biker, too, but…”

    There are obviously space issues in Portland between bikes and cars, and someone wants to build a bike that’s as wide as a car? I can appreciate its uses, but seriously… with some of Portland’s drivers, this just seems to be an invitation to a road rage incident.

    There’s no way a bike like that can safely ride on a street with no bike lanes.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 8, 2010 at 5:00 pm

      Jay,

      I should have made it clear initially (I’ve added a line to the story)… but the bike-car does fit within a bike lane. We rode one through a median island on N. Williams made specifically for bike traffic and it fit through just fine.

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    are March 8, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    i should worry about using a perfectly legal vehicle because someone else has anger management issues?

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    Jay March 8, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Jonathan,

    That’s much more interesting. The photos seem to show that it’s much wider than the 3-4′ allocated to bikes on most streets. Especially the model being designed for wheelchairs, or the version with the dual-trailers.

    are,

    Yes, you should always be aware of the consequences of your actions. For the name reason you don’t walk down the street screaming racial epithets. If you do something that other people don’t like, you run risks, whether your chosen activity is legal or not.

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    are March 8, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    i do not accept the analogy, and i am beyond tired of cowering before motorists

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    chrehn March 8, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    I like it.

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    SkidMark March 8, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Idealism and self-preservation should intersect somewhere, are.

    Once again I have to laugh at the idea that Portland’s streets are dangerous. We have had our share of tragedies, but for the most part the most drivers will do is give you a passive-aggressive stinkface.

    On a road with no bike lane, as long as you do what the law requires you to do if you are traveling slower than the speed limit and pull over when it is safe and practical to allow vehicles to pass there is nothing for anyone to whine about.

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    Gregg Woodlawn March 9, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I can’t ride past one of Johnnie’s bikes without laughing and smiling. They are SO COOL. The first time I saw one (loaded down with stuff) I had to turn around and catch up just so I could get a better look. Really great designs.

    Congrats Johnnie!

    And hey- please contact me- I want to talk to you about a project.
    CampBikeFun@gmail.com

    Peace, G

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    John Benenate March 9, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Any chance Team Cyclisme could get a discount on one of these Mamma Jamma’s?

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    beth h March 9, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    I first saw one of Johnnie’s creations on my way home from work a few months ago. I stared at it, took out a camera and took a few photos, and then there was Johnnie, saying hi and inviting me to try out one of his bike-car-thingys. I politely declined — wasn’t feeling well at the time — but did take a tiny video of HIM riding it.

    I love the guy’s creative brilliance and hope he takes it farther. How super-cool.

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    amanda March 9, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Awesome!

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    Curtis March 10, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    I just got one of his cargo trailers (ofthe two wheel variety) and it works great! It’s drawn quite a bit of attention too.

    I’m excited to see more from this guy.

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