Sunday, July 26, 2015

DIY Cargo Bikes with Custom Sidecars

At One Street we’re always looking for easy projects that make bicycles even more efficient transportation machines. Our One Street Components program identifies particular parts that need to be redeveloped and simplified. But turning a regular bike into a cargo bike using common items can be a daunting project. This is because a wheel usually needs to be added to support the load. By adding it to the back, the drivetrain becomes terribly complex. By adding a wheel to the front, the steering becomes complex.

Fortunately, there’s s third option: sidecars. Motorcycles have used them for decades, but sidecars are rare on bicycles. I’m not sure why, because this sure seems like a simple solution for a cargo bike conversion.

Here are some great examples of DIY projects:

Whether you take on a sidecar project or just enjoy the designs, these examples show how looking beyond the usual bicycle world can offer great inspirations for transportation bicycle projects.

Enjoy! And if you know of similar DIY cargo bike projects, please post them in the comments section.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bike Works in London as Social Bike Model

I’m back from my big trip to Europe and the UK and now enjoying the inspiring memories. While in France and England I was able to visit with several bicycle organizations and bike shops.

One in particular stands out as particularly inspiring. Bike Works, a social bike business in London, presents a humble storefront and website, but even as I pushed open the door, I realized it was special. The bike shop at the front is clean and welcoming, offering both new and used bikes as well as a nice assortment of parts and accessories.

I spoke with one of their staff about their work with disadvantaged London residents, especially those who have been out of work for some time, which makes finding a job harder. They train them in bicycle mechanics so that even someone who never held a wrench will graduate knowing they can repair most bikes. Each receives a well-respected certificate and help from Bike Works finding a job. The staffer said with a laugh that they keep the best graduates to work at Bike Works. They also offer cycling skills courses for people of all abilities, even those with significant disabilities.

In the back, there’s a long building packed with bicycles, frames, and parts neatly sorted into easy-to-find sections. One half of this building is dedicated to a repair and rebuilding shop where their trainees rebuild donated bikes to sell and support their programs.

While all of this was very impressive to me, a small detail may be the piece that most stunned me – their displayed of used parts for sale. I can’t count the number of arguments I have had with well-intentioned leaders of volunteer-run bike programs who refuse to sell bikes and parts. They believe that by giving away everything their good intentions will be repaid by recipients helping to build the program. Instead, after some time, these leaders are usually left doing all the work and without bicycles or parts to fulfill their mission. I also go over this problem in great detail in our book, Defying Poverty with Bicycles.
But at Bike Works they not only sell used bikes and parts at market prices to sustain their programs, they do so in style. Their used parts are packaged with Bike Works branding and displayed professionally amidst their new parts. A small detail that shows that Bike Works is serious about serving the needs of disadvantaged people. Well done!

Do you know of other great models of social bike businesses? Please note them in the comments section.