Ruckus Warehouse Sale

Community college uses cargo trikes instead of trucks to keep campus quiet

Posted by on July 27th, 2016 at 11:28 am

PCC groundskeeper Eric Roberts and his new work truck.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Human brains tend to work more efficiently in quiet places. For college campuses with many acres of foliage and greenspace to maintain, the use of power tools and motorized vehicles is often at odds with a serene learning environment.

Portland Community College thinks they have an answer: bikes. Or, more specifically, three-wheeled cargo trikes.

On a recent walk past PCC’s Cascade campus in north Portland (on my way to their Biketown bike share station) I met Eric Roberts, one of the school’s groundskeepers. Admittedly it was the bike next to him that first caught my eye: A gorgeous green utility trike made in the USA by Worksman Cycles. “It’s really practical,” Roberts said, as he dug around some weeds. “We’re trying to keep the campus quiet.”


The trike can be pedaled or pushed by hand. Eric says he plans to add a tool rack soon.

The trike that carried a trash barrel and Roberts’ tools was made possible by PCC’s Green Initiative Fund, a grant program created through a 10-cent charge attached to each student’s activity fee. The same fund helped start PCC’s student bike loan program.

PCC Groundskeeper Nate Scott wrote the grant for the trikes. He shared via email that he’s been carfree since 2009 and wanted to find a way to reduce the school’s impact on the environment. “Prior to owning the utility trike our primary mode of transportation was a diesel-powered Kubota RTV [a small tractor],” he wrote. In addition to finding a non-motorized alternative, Scott said he also sees the new trikes as a way to educate students and the public that human-powered vehicles are a viable option and they have more benefits for the community.

Given the success of the trike at the Cascade Campus, Scott reports that PCC has decided to purchase to additional trikes for use at their Southeast and Rock Creek campuses.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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  • kittens July 27, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    How cute is that? This little story helped offset my Trump-rage today.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty July 27, 2016 at 12:07 pm

      Gawker is reporting that Trump asked the Russians to hack the trike’s email servers, to find out what it’s real role was in Benghazi.

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      • Dan A July 27, 2016 at 2:44 pm

        Half of Americans think it would be a good idea to give him control over our nuclear arsenal.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty July 27, 2016 at 2:45 pm

          Shh! Don’t tell the trikes… it might spook them!

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    • Lester Burnham July 28, 2016 at 1:55 pm

      Why are political comments necessary on this story?

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  • John Lascurettes July 27, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Brilliant! I love it.

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  • B. Carfree July 27, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    I hope this ends better than the pilot project done by Eugene’s Parks and Open Space department (yes, they really call themselves POS). They purchased a locally-manufactured cargo trailer for use by non-career summer employees along the bike paths for landscaping. Unfortunately, they speced it too heavy for non-cyclists and the people they hired, mostly friends and family of career staff, weren’t up for a bit of exercise. It got used about ten times and has sat in storage for six years since.

    Of course, they did a big press release and praised themselves for being oh-so-green and bikey.

    There might finally be a happy ending. Last week a young couple with a landscaping business asked me to stop so they could check out my cargo trailer (made by the same local outfit, but without the heavy siding). I directed them to the person at the city who has the authority to sell excess goods, so maybe they will be able to do more of their landscaping by bike if they can work out an agreeable price for the now unused trailer.

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    • Eric Leifsdad July 27, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      A cargo bike or trailer with electric motor and battery (with or without solar panel) would be much more “green and bikey” than a tractor with diesel engine. The failure to replace a heavy diesel vehicle with un-assisted human-power seems like a setup. A 1000W motor is cheating, right?

      I would like to see Portland replace some of their gasoline carts e.g. in Gabriel Park.

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    • homitsu July 27, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      PCC groundskeepers are buff; some are mountain climbers, others runners. No problem!

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    • wsbob July 27, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      “…the pilot project done by Eugene’s Parks and Open Space department …” b carfree

      Interesting story. I’ll admit I’ve never pedaled a trike (adult version, as an adult.)…but I find myself wondering some, how hard can it be for a cyclist, or a non-cyclist, to pedal one of the trikes PCC is using, or the one you describe, the short distances I imagine needing to be traveled on them. The PCC campus isn’t even a mile wide, I don’t think. PCC’s trike looks like a one-speed; multi-speed gearing with some lower gears might help.

      I’m so glad to see that PCC is trying to use pedaled trikes. Out in Beaverton Tualitan Hills Nature Park off Milikan Way, uses a cart powered by gas, diesel or some such fuel. It’s just a 200 acre park, some of the trails are asphalt, the rest dirt. There are some gentle grade hills, and occasionally, some heavier materials such as small amounts of gravel, have to be transported for trail maintenance. Still, I have to wonder if cargo bikes might be able to adequately support most of the work the maintenance staff has to do.

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  • Spiffy July 27, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    bikes are doing business everywhere around Portland… Gunderson and Daimler both use bikes/trikes to run around their manufacturing facilities near the river…

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  • Matheas Michaels July 27, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    Great! Now let’s see something like that at SE campus 🙂

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    • Bob K. July 27, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      “Scott reports that PCC has decided to purchase to additional trikes for use at their Southeast and Rock Creek campuses”

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      • Matheas Michaels July 27, 2016 at 6:26 pm

        +1 for reading skills 😀

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  • CaptainKarma July 27, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    I no longer see any humor in talking about the major political henchmen & henchwomen. I came to BP to get away from it. Also, cargo bikes are cool.

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    • James Sherbondy July 27, 2016 at 5:07 pm

      Thank you! This 1000 times.

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  • devograd July 27, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    What a great idea! I’m glad that PCC and its groundskeepers were willing to try something new.

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  • IanC July 27, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    I’m going to suggest that the hospital where I work do the same thing. Talk about a place where people need to quietly rest! We have groundskeepers with diesel 4 wheelers, leaf blowers, lawn mowers – not to mention all the pesticides and herbicides that are used throughout the year. Let’s get those dudes on trikes!

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  • rachel b July 27, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    I love this. Good on you, PCC Groundskeeper Nate Scott! I’m sick to death of the noise noise noise noise (and stench) of the internal combustion engine.

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  • chris July 27, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    one of those bikes and a sheet of plywood could be the bakfiets on a budget way to go. 1/3 of the cost and more stability for your precious cargo. guessing it’s probably geared differently though?

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  • Joe Adamski July 27, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    I notice bikes with trailers being used by the groundskeepers at Concordia College also. What works, works.

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  • q July 27, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    Noise is the forgotten pollutant of motor vehicles. Imagine how the city would sound without cars.

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  • Portland's Electric Bicycle Shop July 28, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Are my eyes deceiving me, or besides the parking brake, is that trike supposed to stop – even when fully loaded – with only a coaster brake?!? If so, I hope they have good insurance!

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    • Eric Leifsdad July 28, 2016 at 9:54 am

      If you load 10 bags of topsoil on it and go bombing down a hill, you’ll be doing some sick whip skids for sure. I would expect it to have a “not for use on hills” sticker on the handlebar, and yeah it needs front brakes if it’s going to have a motor.

      How much does it weigh? I don’t see that listed here

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  • John Liu
    John Liu July 28, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    Cool idea.

    For heavy loads etc, maybe the campus could use electric carts (golf cart like) instead of the gasoline powered mini trucks.

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  • Dave B August 8, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Don’t tell the US Postal Service about this! They might be able to replace a whole bunch of minivans for in town neighborhood mail delivery.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 8, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      Bikes would seem to be a great fit for urban mail delivery!

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