Generally when you leave your hometown (especially if your hometown is Portland, Oregon), you tend to lose your sense of expanding bike love rather quickly. Traveling for work or for play (unless you bike camp) takes you through airports and subway stations and conference rooms and hotel/motels, and soon you begin to despair that the U.S. will always be a car-centric, junk food wasteland. Wait! When that depression dip happens, here's a crowdsourced cargo bike documentary (or at the very least, the trailer) to to the rescue.
Cargo bike prototype designed by Clever Cycles. Photo: A. Streeter.
Filmmaker Liz Canning wrote an article for a local Marin, California, cycling activist organization and realized the first stirrings of a revolution were happening - a revolution of regular people who simply wanted to drive less and bike more, and were being drawn to cargo bikes in order to do that with their stuff, their daily errands, and their children, and pets. She's working on a documentary film to show peoples' adoption of cargo bikes as one of their trusty transportation modes.
Canning found that the addition of twins (a boy and girl) to her life in 2008 and the huge hill leading up to her house threatened to put an end to the bike commuting from Marin to San Francisco that she had done. She started with a trailer for the kids on her regular bike, but soon grew to dread the rides.
Canning bought a custom-made Shuttlebug from Joe Bike in Portland, outfitted with an electric-assist motor, and concurrently discovered that Portland, with its Clever Cycles and Splendid bike shops in addition to Joe Bikes, (not to mention Oregon Manifest's utility bike challenge this year) has become the epicenter of cargo innovation.
Yet Canning is convinced that this cargo biking revolution is not just a European and West Coast phenomenon, and she's asking filmmakers and cyclists from around the country to send in footage of their cargo biking experiences.
Unfortunately, reliable sales figures to demonstrate the strength of the cargo bike's incursion into North American bike culture do not exist. As John Pucher has pointed out, demographic studies show it is men 25-64 that form the backbone of biking's resurgence, not mid-career moms on bakfiets.
We do know that 9 million American consumers will buy a bike this year - and Canning is trying to get those that are moving to a cargo bike to document their experiences for her film, which she expects to release next year. To get involved, watch the trailer above.