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The Monday Roundup: Cargo bikes go mainstream and more

Posted by on July 8th, 2013 at 9:01 am

Morrison Bridge bike-walk path dedication event-23

Franklin Jones of B-Line got noticed
by the New York Times.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Here’s the news that caught our eyes this week…

— Part of the reason Portland’s economy hasn’t collapsed: big trucks aren’t the only way to move freight around a city. The NYT’s latest visit to Portland examines B-Line, Portland Pedal Power and the many local businesses making cargo deliveries by bike. (New York Times)

— “The much talked about Kinn” is “a new midtail utility bike manufactured in Portland.” It’s “un-cruiserish and un-cargobikish; a fast, responsive, ‘sporty’ bike.” (LovelyBike)

— Renting a transit-station bike locker that only you can use makes about as much sense as renting a downtown parking space that only you can use. Seattle’s transit system is rolling out “on-demand” bike lockers that multiple people can use. What do you say, TriMet? (Cascade Bicycle Club)

— As the city-loving generation of young people starts to make babies, transportation writer Tom Vanderbilt reports on “the new station wagon”: the cargo bike. (Wall Street Journal)

— Portlanders love to complain about our local economy, but by national standards we’re a “prosperous metropolis” with “the third-highest export intensity in the United States among the top 100 metros and the second-fastest-growing export market among the major metros.” Spending far less on auto infrastructure than other growing cities hasn’t killed our job market; it’s made us unique. (Atlantic)

— Bike commuting is up 40 percent nationally since 2000 thanks in part to “a new class of mayors … asking what is the most efficient way to move people.” (Christian Science Monitor)

— Next time you’re in Los Angeles on a Wednesday night, you probably want to go on this amazing night ride. (KCRW)

— Social clubs for people of color who like bikes are helping show that biking isn’t just for white folks. (NPR)

— Shinola, an all-American brand of shoe polish, has been reborn as a maker of bikes, watches and leather goods. Its first flagship store, a converted Jeep warehouse in Midtown Detroit, just opened. (Paved)

— Toyota is the latest automaker to put its luxury brand name on a high-end bike. This is the only Lexus you’ll ever see on sale for $10,530. (Toronto Star)

— Citi Bike feels like the tipping point for making bikes normal in New York City, a longtime bike advocate there writes: “I swear those bikes are like an automatic good will/good luck charm.” (BikePeaceNYC)

— Downside of being normal: getting targeted by traffic cops. (Vanity Fair)

— Looks like Wisconsin’s highway-loving conservative Gov. Scott Walker has a new political challenger: Mary Burke, a former executive for Waterloo-based Trek Bicycle Corporation. (Cyclelicious)

— As we wrote last week, infrastructure isn’t everything when it comes to biking, but it sure helps. Portland’s Eastbank Esplanade is one of 10 federal investments in biking that have paid off big, according to a new report from Bikes Belong.

— A new music video captures the freedom you feel on two wheels. And also lots of cute little kids. “This is what we build all this stuff for,” writes Amsterdamize.

— Finally, your video of the week comes via LAist, which reposted an L.A. bike commuter’s video that he says shows him passing 631 cars in 15 minutes:

If you come across a noteworthy bicycle story, send it in via email, Tweet @bikeportland, or whatever else and we’ll consider adding it to next Monday’s roundup.

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • dave July 8, 2013 at 9:06 am

    “Renting a transit-station bike locker that only you can use makes about as much sense as renting a downtown parking space that only you can use.”

    Which is to say, a lot of sense for someone that’s actually going to depend on it? Most people I know that regularly car commute downtown rent dedicated spaces for a reason.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 8, 2013 at 10:44 am

      Yep: right for some but not for all!

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      • dave July 8, 2013 at 11:01 am

        Why the “about as much sense as” phrasing, then? Makes about as much sense as one size fits all transportation planning.

        Not trying to be a backseat editor, but I’m way to groggy to do any actual work this morning. Might as well nitpick somebody else’s!

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        • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
          Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 8, 2013 at 11:58 am

          No sweat, Dave — you’re right that my connotation was negative. I plead guilty to thinking that dedicated bike lockers are, like many transportational assets, often more efficient when shared. 🙂

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  • Dan July 8, 2013 at 9:21 am

    The on-demand locker is great for places that you want to travel to outside of your normal commuting schedule. No need to bring a heavy lock with you, or worry about stuff being stolen OFF your bike, which I hear is quite common (and the main reason I generally don’t leave my bike out in the open).

    Next step would be businesses offering free on-demand bike lockers for their customers. That would make me a loyal shopper.

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  • lazyofay July 8, 2013 at 9:58 am

    While I support all things positive concerning all manner of people embracing cycling… I sure wish people of color would ride with this ofay more often.
    That NPR story reads like a high school newspaper article.

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  • maxadders July 8, 2013 at 10:12 am

    My headline would read “Cargo bikes go empty” — because I see so many people riding around on them while hauling nothing, or hauling something that would easily be managed by a basket, a rack or a backpack.

    Call me cynical, sure. But at the end of the day I too wish I had a few grand to drop on a feel-good fad. Oh well, maybe I can get one for cheap in a few years when the hype dies down and everyone’s sick of having the condo board breathing down their necks about a dusty old bakfiets taking up room that could be used to park a few more Segways. City of the future, man. It’s coming.

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    • Doug Rosser July 8, 2013 at 10:49 am

      Cargo bikes are a fad like pickup trucks and SUVs are a fad but I still see those selling well, despite 99.9% of them being empty except for a solitary driver.

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      • John Lascurettes July 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm

        I’ll take the Cargo fad over the SUV fad, thank you.

        I’ve never had envy over someone’s SUV – but I have it over the cargo bikes and long tails.

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    • Emily July 8, 2013 at 11:10 am

      Maybe you see the cargo bikes being ridden to work after kids have been dropped off at school/camp, or on the way to get groceries. How often to you haul stuff both ways on a trip somewhere?

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      • maxadders July 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm

        I would expect that anyone smart enough to ride a cargo bike would also home-school their kids and sustainably farm their own groceries. I mean, come on, being car free is mainstream now– we need to look at the big picture.

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        • pdxpaul July 8, 2013 at 1:39 pm

          I want to get a cargo bike to make a greenhouse in the cargo tub. My daughter would tend it while I ride around town.

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        • are July 8, 2013 at 4:00 pm

          stereotype much?

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    • Jeff July 8, 2013 at 11:37 am

      I gave up my car eight years ago, and picked up my first Xtracycle a couple years after that. It turned being car-free from a significant pain in the ass to being a very practical choice. I use it to carry drill presses, 55 lb sacks of grain, 10 foot lengths of electrical conduit, eight grocery bags at a time, and adult and child passengers (not all at once!). I can pick up a friend at the airport and cruise home on the 205 trail. Definitely not a fad, nor is it something I plan to move past. That said, it’s not the bike I ride when I don’t plan to carry something (unless everything else has a flat).

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      • maxadders July 8, 2013 at 11:55 am

        I think I’d use mine to haul around my enormous sense of self-satisfaction

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        • Case July 8, 2013 at 12:31 pm

          Where you’re able to simply upload yours to your Cloud?

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        • Caleb July 9, 2013 at 11:08 pm

          I thought Jeff was just providing you a reason to let go of your cynicism and perceive cargo bicycle users as the unknown individuals they are to you.

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      • Chris Sanderson July 8, 2013 at 7:48 pm

        Drill press and electrical conduit? You and I (Builder By Bike) should talk!

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    • Paul July 8, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      Yeah, it’s kinda like people driving around with empty SUVs and pickup trucks.

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    • Chris Sanderson July 8, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      I can assure you that Builder By Bike’s cargo bike and trailer is not empty.

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    • GlowBoy July 10, 2013 at 10:36 am

      You don’t have to spend “a few grand.” I bought my Madsen brand-new for less than $1000.

      And by the way, if I use it to get groceries it is usually empty for half the trip (i.e, the way to the store). If I use it to drop my kid off at school, it usually is empty for half the trip (i.e., the way home), same as when I use my tagalong to do the same job. On several occasions I’ve gotten comments like “where’s your kid?” (Um, the answer is “at school, with the rest of the kids.”) Truly mind-boggling.

      Of course no one bats an eye at an SUV with an empty cargo hold, or a empty kid seat in back, but apparently it now triggers a Poseur Alert to not have your cargo bike’s capabilities 100% utilized 100% of the time you’re using it.

      I very much doubt that very many people are riding empty bakfiets all over town just to show off. Maybe that will be a “thing” someday, but I really don’t think there’s any such trend. You may be drawing the wrong conclusions from your observations.

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  • Henrik July 8, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Bike lockers definitely need to catch on- as does the design of them as well. They are big and bulky and take up waaaay to much space. Hopefully they get it figured out in a years to come.

    Lexus bike, nothin’ special there. Shoot, that ain’t even that much for a high-end road bike these day; they can easily go for twice that price.

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  • Chris Sanderson July 8, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Saw one of those Kinn bikes at a Pedalpalooza ride, and was enamored by the it. It looks like a sweet ride that is designed for some cargo, but has the nimbleness of a regular bike.

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  • ed July 8, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Gotta love the Dutch! Thanks for the delightful Amsterdamize video link. I’ve always said a reason the Dutch are so comfortable and skilled on bikes is due to early exposure as infants, especially with these great baby seats that have child between parent and handlebar, often having their own little play bars. (illegal here I think ;-( People there often ride close, jostle each other, hold hands, lean on each other etc. and it’s no different than doing such things while walking. Imagine if this was part of your first activity in the world! “Pro level” skills from everyday people. Super cute video, and a great view when we worry and fret how “dangerous” it is to ride… all about the flow baby 😉

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  • drew July 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    leave it to a automotive manufacturer to push the most useless bike possible. A racing bike is what is needed to race, or emulate a racer…. but quite unsuitable when trying to avoid flats on city streets, running errands, when you need integrated lights (without them I think a bike is more of a toy than a vehicle), when you need a kickstand (all the time except pro racers), appropriate tires, fenders, carrying capacity, etc etc.

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    • are July 8, 2013 at 4:08 pm
    • longgone July 9, 2013 at 7:28 am

      While I certainly understand that sport bikes are not everyone’s cup of tea, I do not understand the elitist disdain for choices others make when it comes to riding certain types of bikes.
      This characteristic plagues my motorcycling brethren as well.
      I find it all rather childish, and quite frankly detrimental to bring people to cycling.
      When I was five,fifteen,thirty,and now nearly sixty, I tried/try to push my bike as hard as I can…
      I could not fly after all… ( know what I mean ?)

      It evolved from an Austrian 3 spd Sting Ray copy, to Apple Krate, to home made Ashtabula BMX, to a sad Kabuki lightweight,to PXn-10,..Pogliaghi”s, Zeus, Fisher’s, Kellogg…..a litany’s of every type of bike I could afford to try out….hundreds.
      All types, all styles, from all countries.
      Hell what do you care what other people ride or like?
      Why do people have to marginalize the choices, experience, and emotional attachments that others have to a bicycle?
      Please explain that to me, because I find this line of thinking kinda’ stupid.

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      • Caleb July 10, 2013 at 9:42 am

        Drew’s motives might have involved a negative regard for people who choose to ride racing bicycles, but drew did not mention anything directly indicating he held such regard. What you perceive as “elitist disdain” toward certain cyclists may only be disappointment in the manufacturer.

        Based on drew’s post, I imagine he cares what other people ride or like for a similar reason that you objected to what he said. You found his words detrimental to get people cycling, but it appears to me he finds racing bicycles detrimental to get people cycling, at least in certain places and conditions. For example, if one only has a racing bicycle (sans racks and fenders), but wishes to get across town with bags of stuff in the middle of a heavy rain, one might choose to drive rather than cycle.

        If that trend was drew’s concern, and he cared not what individuals choose to ride, then assuming he was marginalizing any bicycle use could be more directly detrimental to people cycling than were his misunderstood words.

        Whether my speculation is correct or incorrect, I’d also like to see his answers to your questions.

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        • longgone July 11, 2013 at 5:52 am

          Drews assumption/accusation that auto manufactures would produce a bike unfitting his like and or needs is self centered at best.
          I will be the first to admit that it’s cross marketing silliness….
          It is marketing to a narrow segment of buyer…. their buyers, nothing more.
          But to suggest they would do so unwittingly, or with some type of agenda to push certain a cycling lifestyle that Drew deems worthless is just incorrect.
          We have seen this type of promotion many,many times with the auto/bike/space/computer industries.
          This is old hat.
          Hell, Ford/Chevy/Dodge/VW/Subaru used to cross promote with canoes,camping equipment, motorcycles,mountain bikes etc..etc.
          TreK/Vw ring a bell?
          Campagnolo magnesium F1 facing wheels…
          The car and bike have been inextricably linked since the Dunlop tire was invented…much to the chagrin of the fans of both.

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          • Caleb July 11, 2013 at 8:26 am

            “Drews assumption/accusation that auto manufactures would produce a bike unfitting his like and or needs is self centered at best.”

            But he never specified he was only concerned about his likes/needs, and neither did he say anything suggesting the manufacturer did or did not take into account anybody’s likes/needs.

            “But to suggest they would do so unwittingly, or with some type of agenda to push certain a cycling lifestyle that Drew deems worthless is just incorrect.”

            I don’t believe Drew was suggesting that.

            “This is old hat.”

            Yeah, and my initial interpretation of Drew’s post was that he was tired of old hat and wishing a company with relatively deep resources could create something more practical for commuters, similar to wishing for a major cultural shift.

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  • Paul Hanrahan July 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Great LA video of the biker passing the 630 cars. Gotta laugh!

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  • q`Tzal July 8, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Having driven 53′ trailers in cities I can say that using big trucks to move freight in to any city is a bad idea.
    Imagine if federal agricultural laws required you to allow clearance for a 40′ wide combine between every planted row in your backyard garden.
    To do so in dense urban cities is similarly ridiculous.

    In addition you can’t build on or over such a wide public ROW incrementally cutting a large hole in property tax revenue.
    Furthermore, in today’s “on-demand” inventory marketplace, with real estate at a premium in downtown urban cores (driving up the cost of warehouse storage) a big truck is delivering bulky space wasting loads to customers that shouldn’t really exist there from a cost efficiency standpoint.

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  • DIO July 8, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    TriMet already has electronic bike lockers (eLockers). Unfortunately, they’re only at 2 locations: Orenco/231st Ave MAX Station and Tigard Transit Center WES Station.

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