Tagutility

What is a utility bike

Well, if I had to choose, it’s the WorkCycles Fr8.

But if I had to define it, here goes:

  1. It can carry stuff so that I don’t have to carry it on my person, thus hurting my body. Carries in such a way so as to not negatively affect the handling and maneuverability of the bike.
  2. Has a design with devices, features, elements, materials that help prolong the life of the bicycle. This includes chain guard to prevent rust, fenders to prevent dirt, internal gearing to make that last longer, etc…
  3. Can be ridden by a variety of person sizes (I’m not sure if this represents utility, not 100% sure on this one).

Why does this matter?

Photo by Jonathan Maus of BikePortland. Read his reporting on the topic

Oregon Manifest judges chose the winning bike on Friday, September 24, 2011, and it’s far from being the ultimate utility bike.

Tony’s bike – centered around an electric pedaling assist — was specifically designed to get people out of cars, introducing amenities that drivers have grown accustomed to on the road;  stereo, locking storage, stable loading and a huge dose of Fun Factor.

And I wasn’t the only concerned observer. Travis Wittwer, a Portland resident, was present at the announcement and wrote on Bike Noun Verb, in a post titled The Cargo Bike Future Sucks:

There was a palatable pause as the first place winner for the Ultimate Utilitarian Bike was announced at the the 2011 Oregon Manifest awards. The pause was long enough to register as a pause. A stop. It was uncomfortable. Clearly people everywhere in the crowd were saying, “What the hell?” I looked around and saw other people looking around. There was some confusion.

It doesn’t meet my definition of utility bike above:

  1. The wide front rack is mounted to the steering and thus will make maneuverability difficult. The double-leg kickstand is not very wide.
  2. The drivetrain is exposed, it uses electrical parts that will fail or need maintenance that many people will not be able to provide.
  3. The high top tube may make it difficult for some to mount the bicycle.
I do love the locking storage, though!

Bicycle trailer sharing

Bicycle trailers can hold hundreds of pounds of goods, food, and furniture. However, high quality and durable trailers for bikes can be expensive (about $350) for one bicycle rider, especially if they plan to only use it a few times per year. A trailer sharing program could be the answer to distributing the high cost of purchasing and maintaining the trailers for sporadic use.

My friend Josh pulls a trailer with automated bike counting equipment.

West Town Bikes and the Loaded Bikes Collective are asking for your vote in the Pepsi Refresh Project. You’ve probably heard of it by now – when Pepsi advertises something, they really advertise something. It’s on the radio, television, and on every soda can and bottle. Visit their project page for more information, a budget breakdown, and to vote. (Loaded Bikes delivers for Community Supported Agriculture, farmers markets, and city gardens.)

In 2009, I created a proposal (really a shot in the dark) for a trailer sharing program modeled after ZipCar and I-GO. Read the full proposal after the break.

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