My cargo bike is my Social Network

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Stefano and I are on our way to AMC East (Streeterville) from Pilsen to see the Japanese movie, “Sword of Desperation” (ask me about it).

As I silently predicted, Stefano’s bike got a flat, in Greektown, less than half of the way to the theater. (I predicted this based on my knowledge of how little he cares for his bicycle.)

Immediately, our plan was to fix the flat. I’m the only one anyone can trust to carry tools, but I forgot the wrench to remove the wheel* (actually, the Transportation Security Administration stole it from me at O’Hare airport). So, I proposed to Stefano two choices:

  1. Take two buses, 8 and 66, meet me there and be late for the movie
  2. Take a ride on the Yuba Mundo and we’ll arrive at the same time and probably be on time for the movie

Stefano chose option two and locked his bike to a bike rack. I gave him the rules and he hopped on.

The rules of Yubering are:

  • Sit as close to the operator as possible. This brings the center of gravity closer to where I’m used to it.
  • Try not to move – you can affect my balance.
  • Hold on to the passenger’s handlebar – this helps keep you from moving, and falling off.
  • Stay in constant communication with the operator – I like to know what’s going on. This is mainly just for the sake of conversing and to be lively, happy, and social.
  • Use your hand to signal turns on my behalf. I have a lot of weight to handle so it’s best if I keep both hands on the handlebar.

A ride like this doesn’t come without streetside commentary. (Read what people have said in the past.)

A slightly drunk woman in a taxicab at Lake Street and Canal Street said, “What happens if he [the operator] farts?” Uhh…

So we got to the movie theater at 9:59. Stefano ran in to buy tickets. As this movie was part of the Chicago International Film Festival, there were no previews. I locked up and went inside. We missed about four minutes of the movie.

Now, for the ride home.

Stefano’s bike is still locked up in Greektown and he lives in Pilsen. Knowing that the Yuba Mundo has no cargo limits, I propose we go pick up the bike and I take him and the bike home.

It was a rousing success!

And the commentary didn’t stop. After a two-hour visit to Timothy O’Toole’s, around 3 AM, a young man in a sports car on Adams Street slows down to match our speed and says, to Stefano, “So are you really riding his bike carrying a bike? Wow

YES! That’s exactly what’s happening. Not sure what he said after that. I had to concentrate on riding the bike. This was the highlight of my night.

It took a while to get home as I had to go slow, but it was fun. We were able to have uninterrupted conversations. Bicycling is The Real Social Network. Carrying a passenger makes it just a bit easier to communicate. The Yuba Mundo makes every ride a blast.

*I now realize that removing the wheel to fix a flat is unnecessary, but I didn’t think of this at the time. If we did repair the flat, this whole experience never would have happened.

More photos below the fold.

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About Steven Vance

Enthusiast for urbanism, bicycling as transportation, and open data. Building a bicycle culture in Chicago.
  • http://dingdingletsride.com Samantha

    Great bike! Great city bike!

    • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

      It rolls so smoothly. My knee started hurting from pulling (pushing?) all that weight, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/markstos Mark Stosberg

        Sometimes raising the seat a bit can help with knee pain.

        • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

          I keep doing that, but then I can’t always put my foot down at stops while still being seated – I’d rather not have to get off.

          • Anonymous

            True. For short trips with frequent stops, I do keep my seat a bit low for easier stopping and starting, especially with a baby on board, or iffy winter road conditions.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/markstos Mark Stosberg

    Fun post.

    Try not to move – you can affect my balance.

    Don’t you want them to lean into turns?

    • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

      Stefano asked. I said no. It works out okay. I think the passengers will lean naturally if they’re holding on to the bars.

      Another rule: Don’t put your feet on the ground!

    • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

      I just found your photo of nearly the same action:
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/markstos/4674757058/

  • Jonathan R

    Great post! I love carrying people on my Ahearne Cycle Truck. One minuscule question: was your wrench longer than 7″? That’s the upper limit for TSA-approved carry-on tools like wrenches or screwdrivers.

    • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

      Yes, it was longer than 7″. That was the TSA agent’s stated reason for confiscating it. I could have kept it if I checked my bag, but I didn’t have time.

      Now I need to find a 6.9″ wrench.

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