*insert commas – and dashes, as you like.
In many other countries we have lived in, it is part and parcel of the transportation experience to carry by bike. Luggage to the airport, groceries from the shop, and booze — always booze (preferably not shaken until arrival). But I’m amused by the looks and comments of amazement/encouragement people give me here in Portland: Look at that! It’s so uncommon! That can’t be possible to do without a car! Or my all time favorite: Are you sure?
For many years it has been a personal challenge to see just how much can be hauled by bike. Ladders? Relatively easy, just watch going around corners. A few dozen plants? No problem. Including the two-year-old, too? That’s what bike seats or cargo bikes are for! That 60-pound sack of concrete? How about two! A pool for the kids? Try to stop as little as possible, and, yes, it’ll get some looks. Envy.
By far, I’ve found the most wonderful thing to carry by bike is children. Sure, they get heavier over time, but as I’ve said before, the level of interaction they are able to have as we move at a human pace through the neighborhoods is amazing. It’s also a great life lesson on item acquisition, as there really is only so much that will fit.
Of course, when one has the help of many, then many things can be carried by bike, including entire households. My first introduction was many years ago of the SF Bicycle Coalition’s office move, but more recently locals moved house and caused a minor sensation. (It couldn’t be considered even within the realm of quasi-normal, CNN, could it? It had to be “so green, so Portlandia!”)
We are lucky to live in a flatish part of a town that loves bicycle baskets. Wait — am I making excuses? This carrying-by-bike really is not so hard, one merely has to believe they can — and try it. (Am I being one of THOSE bikey people again when I say that? The ones who always say, ‘it’s just so easy, just do it’? I try so hard not to. But this time I truly think it’s true. Going from driving a car everytime to riding a bike sometimes is hard; going from riding a bicycle while carrying a purse, to carrying some groceries, some plants, the casserole to your friend’s house for dinner, a ladder? Meh!)
What will it take for more people to carry by bike? There have already been a number of studies and articles showing how responsible and spendy we bicyclists are, actually stopping at all those shops instead of passing them by in our speedy autos.
Two words: baskets, baskets, baskets.
Tutorials abound. Personally, I think it will take more of us already doing it showing everyone else HOW IT’S DONE to build the confidence of others to, yes, ride the bike down to the shop and bring home a pool for the kiddos.