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Portland bike move breaks record, gets national attention

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

The record-setting bike movers.
(Photo by Jo Routh)

Bike moves — where people move the belongings of an entire household by bike — are nothing new in Portland. The fine folks at Shift have been facilitating the moves through their email list and via this page on their website for many years. In fact, it’s been nearly eight years (!) since we first wrote about them here on BikePortland.

But this past weekend, we were all reminded that the time-honored tradition is stronger than ever: Portland resident Steph Routh and her partner Ed Groth conjured up a record 70 people for their bike move from inner northeast Portland to the Lents neighborhood. Not only was that a record in the history of all bike moves (and yes, they keep track), KOIN-TV showed up to cover it and the story was then picked up by CNN!

Steph’s bike move ended up on CNN’s Early Start program (and strangely, the title of the video online was “Man moves across town using bikes”). Of course, both KOIN and CNN could not stop gushing that seeing people carry stuff on their bikes is, “So Portlandia!”

Watch the CNN clip below:

If you’re wondering how the heck this happens and/or how it’s possible. It’s simpler than you think. People simply post the details of their move and ask for help on the Shift email list, and then folks show up. Why would someone volunteer time on a Saturday to help someone (who they might not even know)? Because it’s fun! The hosts usually always have lots of great food and drinks (especially at the end) and the vibe is positive and friendly. Sometimes there are even themes. I did a “Puppet Parade” bike move once (the couple moving were puppet artists).

(Bike move photos © Jonathan Maus)

As for the technical considerations, that’s where Portland’s deep knowledge and appreciation of cargo bikes comes in. Some of the hardcore bike movers (some people are regulars and have been doing it for many years), are brilliant at knowing how to pack loads on bicycles. Many people in town also have huge cargo trailers which help with the large items like chairs, dressers, and so on.

Learn more about local bike moves on the Shift website.