Portland’s cargo bike love and expertise spreads to Texas

Participants in a cargo bike building
workshop in Texas led by Portland resident Tom LaBonty.
(Photos: Tom LaBonty)

There are few things I love more than to see bike culture spread. It happens so frequently, I think, because people are passionate about bicycling and they can’t help but share it with others.

For southeast Portland resident Tom LaBonty, his passion is cargo bikes, and he just got back from Texas where he gave two-day workshop on how to build them. LaBonty was invited to Texas by Bike Friendly Oak Cliff (BFOC), a group of advocates based in Dallas (as part of their Cyclesomatic event). They learned about LaBonty after viewing “One Less Truck,” a documentary by Portland-based filmmaker Joe Biel.

LaBonty shared more with us about his experiences in Texas via email. He said the workshop was held in a high school auto shop (thanks to BFOC board member and shop teacher Tim Martin). LaBonty brought along a newly developed portable jig (to lay out the builds) which he left behind for future use. About 14 people pre-registered for the workshop. The project they focused on was a front-loading style cargo bike that BFOC will use to promote and perform their advocacy work.

At work on the bike. Note the custom jig designed by LaBonty and donated to BFOC.

Test riding.

Once the bike was done, LaBonty said, “Within minutes it was working.” After the workshop, LaBonty and a few of his new friends rode the bike to downtown Dallas to talk future plans. “It was really cool to see people’s reaction to the the bike and get questions,” recalled LaBonty. “One young lady, who stopped us, mentioned she had heard about the local bike advocacy group and expressed interest in joining in on future events.”

With their new knowledge of DIY cargo bike building, Oak Cliff will probably “have a small fleet of cargo bikes” in the near future says LaBonty. In fact, it’s been about a month since the workshop, and one of the attendees sent Tom a photo of the bike he just completed…

This is Brennan. He made this bike himself, using tools and knowledged gleaned from the workshop.

“Seeing someone follow all the way thru to a useable bike,” shared LaBonty, “is very exciting to me.”


Learn more about LaBonty — including his fantastic “Hydrofiets” project — in our archives or on his personal website

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