Monday, August 14, 2006

Move Your Household by Bicycle

Remember those four or five wine-sized boxes Lindi and I were moving from point A to our house last week? Well Saturday morning we were moving them from our house to point B. What better justification for completely guilt-free car usage?

After unloading the boxes we stopped by Powell's, where we drove around and around looking for a parking place, consuming as much fuel as we did to get there in the first place. We bought some books, among them “How to Live Well Without Owning a Car” by Chris Balish, which I’ll tell you all about later.

Back in our Moving Metal Deathtrap, we head up to the Broadway Bridge, and we see this strange sort of “cluster” making its way up the ramp ahead of us, like a giant lumbering insect. What IS that, we wonder. As we get closer we notice signs on the back of it, one of which we can make out to say “Wide Load.” Suddenly Lindi exclaims, "It’s a bunch of bicycles! Dragging a bunch of stuff!" and then, by now directly behind it I realize, “OMG! They’re MOVING!”

And friends, I do not mean moving as in wiggling insect, I mean moving as in moving-van moving. Except that they were completely van-less.

Yes, they were moving an entire house-full of possessions, including the two most difficult ones: bed and couch. I didn’t see a piano, but all the other household components were there, being dragged up the hill by sheer human leg-power.

Of course, I began clicking furiously with my camera out the window. Lindi drove behind them for a few yards and then drove slowly alongside them while I snapped away until finally passing them and then, once across the bridge, she pulled over so I could hop out and take more photos from the sidewalk as they rode by. I jumped back in and we followed them up Weidler and she slowed alongside them again so I could take still more.

I want to take a moment here to express my gratitude for Lindi’s skill and patience and perseverance. This is a person who does not like to make a scene, cause trouble, annoy people, or least of all be honked at. But she kept on it for the higher cause of recording this groundbreaking event so that I could bring it to the Whole Wide World on my blog, and show you all what can be done without burning oil. Thank you, Miss Lindi.

Moving by Bicycle could become the modern day version of the Barn Raising, when rural neighbors used to get together from miles around to raise a barn in a day. No doubt these cyclists will remember this feat way into the far reaches of senility. I didn’t get a chance to interview any of them, but I passed out my press card (blog card) with wild abandon so they could read about themselves. So if any of them are reading this and would like to write in, I and the readers would welcome any more details you can provide.

We must all do what we can to get the word out that the necessity of cars has been grossly inflated. Send the link to your friends.

[Blogger isn't very good at pictures, so I'll have to work with it a bit. I hope to get them up withing the next couple of hours. You will be amazed.]

still no luck on the photos, darnit, but I'll keep trying! If you were sent a link to this site by email, click on the refresh button so that as the photos are posted, you will get them too.

At this point Blogger has allowed me one photo -- one. Of the seven good ones I have. I may have to get back to this later. I can't mess with this all day, and Blogger works better in the evening. sorry. I'm going to find a better way, I promise. I've been sent suggestions.


At 11:29 AM, Blogger vj said...

Are your pics on flickr, by chance? (By the way, I've linked to you at

At 11:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the coverage and enthusiasm. Moving by bike is a growing trend in Portland -- check out the web page at Shift to Bikes for information and past bike move photos and articles.

At 12:34 PM, Blogger PDXK TV said...

I was the one hauling the Burley full of computer equipment and running a video camera. I will let you know as soon as I am finished editing it. Thank you for your smiles along the way! :)

At 2:10 PM, Anonymous organic brian said...

I hate to burst your bubble of discovery... the first Shift Bike Move occurred in spring 2003, and lately it's been catching on so much that there has been an average of two per month all summmer. We've been featured in The Tribune, The Oregonian, I'm sure other papers, and on August 5th were filmed by a BBC crew for a series on sustainable lifestyles. Lots of great photos, stories, and videos linked from the "moveXbike" section of the Shift website:

At 3:16 PM, Anonymous knappster said...

Don't miss this one:

At 4:06 PM, Blogger kate gawf said...

God! I am so five-minutes-ago!
Ok, well fine, so it's been done. It's still new, it's still incredible, and there's still a vanload of people out there who haven't heard about it. And now they will.

Thank you everyone for sending in your links to even more coverage of this apparently ballooning trend. Very worthwhile checking out every one of them.

At 3:15 PM, Blogger PDXK TV said...

Deepak's Move Video is ready at

At 7:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey thanks for the great commentary. I'm the one who was pulling the bed. While I tried to take pictures of us crossing the bridge, it was simply too much to set the exposure while pedaling with the trailer.
There is however many before/after pictures on my flickr site, and you can read all about bike moves here or here.

At 11:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry-but these people are out of their freakin minds....

At 1:41 AM, Anonymous removals said...

good idea - move your household by bicycle. It'll be cheaper and easier to organise then to rent a van. It's really fresh idea!

At 3:42 AM, Anonymous storage said...

It's not so easy to move, when you have many things, boxes. And if your new place is not so big as old one, you have to rent some self-storage unit. And of course you won't move everything from big house just by bicycle.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger kate gawf said...

Moving is a nightmare, no matter how you do it. But I have no doubt that moving by bike requires far MORE organization than moving by truck or van. For bikes you'd have to package things more carefully, not exceeding certain weights and sizes, and of course you couldn't have any loose items since they'd likely fly off along the way.

I've never been involved in any of these bike moves myself, but it's intriguing to me. However, there are certain items I don't see this working with, like a piano, for example. If I wanted to try this, I think I could do only part of it by bicycle.

Besides having certain items that I wouldn't risk moving by bike, I also have way too much stuff. It would take weeks and I'd need an revolving army of bikers. I have way more stuff than any human being needs. I spend part of every weekend trying to get rid of stuff. Trying to prepare for a bike move would be be very motivating in that direction.

At 5:50 AM, Anonymous storage said...

Hahaha. Thanks for story and photo. I've never could imagine that it's possible to move on bikes. But i don't want to try this. Never

At 8:27 AM, Blogger kate gawf said...

Well, it's possible here in Portland, Oregon. But as you can see from the other comments, people have been doing it for a while. It's an organized thing now, that people have learned how to do. I definitely wouldn't want to be the first one to try it.

Where do you live? Do you think it would work there, if anyone wanted to try it? I mean do you think it could ever develop in your community?


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