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Savor Sunday: The Beauty of Bicycles

Have you ever moved a one-bedroom apartment full of stuff, in an hour and a half? More importantly, have you ever moved and had a good time during the move and afterwards? My guess would be no. In my experience, moving is always stressful. Maybe that wouldn’t be the case if more people moved their stuff by bicycle?

Logan has been trying to get me to go on a bike move ever since we got to Portland and after six months he gave up on me and started attending the events solo. I resisted going to bike moves because I hate moving. My lovely Portland friends have told me again and again that bike moves are a blast. But I wasn’t so sure. Since moving can be so stressful why would I want to help move someone else’s stuff?

On Saturday, our friend Audrey organized a move by bike. She was moving across town to a new apartment. Reluctantly, I went on the bike move and discovered that the rumors are true; moving by bike is a lot of fun!

We arrived at Audrey’s around 10am and there was hot coffee, yogurt, fruit, bagels and donuts for everyone to munch on; between 25-30 people showed up on all sorts of human-powered machines, like cargo bikes and recumbent tricycles. Many folks were riding normal bikes too, but were towing some very cool trailers. For example, one trailer was made out of bamboo and hemp and was big enough to haul a queen sized mattress and box springs!

In fact there were so many people that showed up, we were fighting over who would carry what (in a playful way). One person noted, “We tried to get here early because on the last bike move we didn’t get to carry much. All of the big stuff was taken.”

A few things struck me about the bike move. First, the reaction of people on the street. Some people clapped, others cheered from their apartment buildings, and even pedestrians had some great comments. One guy was standing on his front lawn with a phone in his hand and shouted at us, “I am talking with my mom on the phone! She’s in Philadelphia and I told her about this. You guys are so cool! This is great!”

Second, everyone was laughing, joking around, and happy. And it was 90 degrees outside! I’ve never experienced a happy move before.

We closed off the day with pizza, beer, and fantastic conversations. It’s amazing what you can do when you bring a community of people together. We were able to move Audrey into her new place in an hour and a half and had a lot of fun in the process.

You might not be able to move by bike, but you can savor Sunday on two wheels. Dust off your bike and go for a ride! Maybe you’ll even consider meeting up with other pedal-powered people in your community?

Micro-action: If you live in the Portland area, consider getting connected to Shift. They put on Pedalpalooza, Breakfast on the Bridges, have a calendar of events and more. In essence, they create community by bringing like minded people together.

If you don’t live in Portland, maybe you can start an informal bike group in your town?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Michelle September 11, 2011, 10:51 am

    This is the coolest thing ever! Another item to add to my list of reasons “Why I Should Move to Portland.”

  • Deborah September 11, 2011, 11:12 am

    You guys are so awesome. This really made my day! Shared it with my 12 year old daughter. She loved it too. She is the future!

  • Peggy McPartland September 11, 2011, 11:44 am

    This is the best! I never thought a move could be fun but think I’d look forward to it if I lived in Portland! Awesome! 🙂

    • Tammy Strobel September 11, 2011, 2:07 pm

      @Peggy & Michelle – Yay! I’m glad you enjoyed the post + the video. I’m sure there are fellow bike geeks in your town too.

  • Erin September 11, 2011, 1:18 pm

    That is totally awesome. One time I moved by subway/transit. It wasn’t as fun, but I had my best friend and I carrying as much as we could (minus the big stuff!) I think I would have enjoyed a bike move much more 🙂

    • Tammy Strobel September 11, 2011, 2:11 pm

      @Erin – A move by subway / transit sound super cool! Going by bike is fun, but it’s great that you were able to take advantage of public transit.

      Thanks for leaving a comment. Happy Sunday.

  • Ev`Yan September 11, 2011, 1:42 pm

    This is so freaking cool, Tammy! I love the community aspect of the move. Everyone working together, improvising, & helping each other. This was a great thing for me to see today. :]

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Tammy Strobel September 11, 2011, 2:09 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Ev`Yan! I love the community aspect as well. It make such a big difference in everyday life. Before we simplified our lives I tried to do everything by myself. Now I’m more likely to ask for help (like with a move) and a whole lot more likely to give my time back too.

  • Alllison September 11, 2011, 6:02 pm

    I’ve never, ever, experienced moving as anything other than (at-best) stressful. I’ve never heard of a bike move, but I love the idea, and really love the idea of transforming moving into a happy, green, community event.

  • Heather September 11, 2011, 6:24 pm

    This is incredible. Not only what is accomplished (the move) but the sense of community. The amazing thing to me is calling out for help “bike moving” (which sounds like something even harder than renting a u-haul) but the fact that so many turned out for it and actually enjoyed it. I live in Texas and this is unheard of! Simply amazing!

  • Brenda September 12, 2011, 6:47 am

    What a wonderful way to bring people together to accomplish something! Moves are usually pretty bad experiences for me, which is one of the reasons I’m turning to minimalism and leading a simpler life. It’s so nice to see that moving can actually be fun and fairly quick!

  • Tomas Quinones September 12, 2011, 8:18 am

    Glad to hear you had fun helping out. 🙂 It’s how I’ve made so many great friends and have been able to feel like part of a community.

  • Nancy September 12, 2011, 8:19 am

    My first bike move was in November, when we moved our 3 bedroom house totally by bike, also with our community. It was so fun and everyone had a great time. We found that being organized ahead of time made all the difference. We have some great pictures, videos and memories of that day. Will never do it by truck again (although if we move far enough, I may have to rethink that).

  • Tanja Hoagland September 12, 2011, 9:39 am

    That was amazing Tammy. Our town is so not ready for something like this and it makes me a little sad. Everyone rode in the middle of the street? Is traffic that light in Portland? I’m just blown away by the idea of this. Patrick and I have been trying to just “contemplate” going carlite and it’s intimidating. There aren’t any bike lanes or continuous sidewalks and the traffic is rather intense around town.

    Anyways, I’m rambling. Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us Tammy. It’s really cool to see the bike movement strong in your town. I lived in a town before that had a very strong foot/bike movement and it was really cool. I miss it. 🙂

    • Logan September 14, 2011, 6:56 am

      Hi Tanja,

      Our friend Alan over at Ecovelo wrote a wonderful post about sidewalk riding here: http://www.ecovelo.info/2010/05/14/sidewalk-riding/

      Generally speaking, the street is the safest place to ride a bike. Portland also has its car traffic problems but the bike move video showed a good example of the types of streets we frequent, usually low traffic volumes with a speed limit of about 25 mph. Portland hasn’t always been a bike utopia. The change started about twenty years ago when the city realized it needed to handle more traffic but it was too expensive to expand the roadway over the bridges. The traffic volumes have doubled over the bridges during that time, even without an expansion, thanks to bikes.

      When we went car-free it really helped us to look at the statistics regarding car-related bike crashes. It turns out riding a bike is about 10 times safer than car and the least likely accident (getting hit from behind) is typically the one people are the most afraid of. Also, there is greater safety in larger numbers of cyclists. Hope you can find the pedal-powered-people in your community and learn from them how best to navigate your town by bike! 😀 Cheers! Logan.

  • Matthew September 12, 2011, 10:37 am

    In Wichita (where I live) they have group that goes for a pedal/pub crawl every Thursday night, and they meet at my favorite watering hole. What a great group of folks!

    How come is it that all the “weirdos” are the coolest people you’ll ever meet?

    Thanks for another great post, Tammy!

    ps. I thumbed through the book you recommended at B&N yesterday (Little House Small Planet). My wife said I have to get through the other 4 or 5 books in my queue read before I can have, but she thought it was great, too! Thanks again!

    • Rebecca B. A. R. September 12, 2011, 11:40 am

      I bought Little House on a Small Planet when it first came out a few years ago, and it is a great book–one of my favorites, that I would absolutely recommend, too.

  • Audrey Addison September 12, 2011, 9:15 pm

    I’m so glad you had a good time at the move Tammy! I too had some hesitations about it in the beginning, but Tomas assured me I can trust the system, and I did completely and am so happy for that! I agree with what Nancy wrote above, being organized and packed ahead of time makes a big difference. To see so many people come together, friends and people I just met that day, to help with the move made my heart melt. Thanks for the post and the video!

  • Kate September 13, 2011, 10:11 am

    If Sheboygan, WI can move a coffee house/music venue by bicycle and “bucket brigade”… any city can! We moved everything from couches, refrigerators and pianos on bicycle powered wagons to dishes, lamps, tables and chairs with a 110-person-line from the old door to the new door. It was an amazing event! We found out a lot about our community that day.

    This is a great blog by the way!

  • Julie September 16, 2011, 4:18 pm

    Tammy, I love this! How cool is community?? Thanks for posting the video. I can’t imagine a move being fun, but this sure looks like fun to me.

  • Joe September 16, 2011, 4:25 pm

    My wife and I did a bike move up here in Seattle (we “only” had 2 kids at the time!)

    It got covered in the local paper: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Seattle-couple-make-a-zero-carbon-move-1274445.php

    The one tip I have is put out the word via your LBS, you’ll find plenty of bike-fanatics more than willing to help out in exchange for pizza & beer.

  • Bethany September 18, 2011, 7:04 pm

    Oh my gosh! That bike hitch holding the mattress is awesome! I want one!

  • Jessica Nichols September 22, 2011, 1:02 pm

    Boy am I glad we moved to Portland this summer after three years of reading about awesome stuff like this and dreaming about living here!

  • Rebecca November 13, 2011, 2:02 pm

    Wow! That looks fantastic. I love the things that people can achieve when they come together.

    I just read this post to my boyfriend, and we both agreed that we live in the wrong part of the world!