An estimated 10,000 people ride bicycles in Minneapolis each day, mostly for recreation or to commute to work or school. But bicycles are useful for more than just carrying a single person. With the right equipment, a reasonably-fit person can move 300 lbs in addition to their own weight, making bikes a practical means of transporting cargo, too.
Businesses, organizations and individuals in the area are increasingly using bikes to move things. Peace Coffee delivers their products in the downtown area using bikes; Equal Exchange plans to begin doing so later this year. The Midtown Greenway Coalition recently purchased a bike trailer for maintaining the Greenway. Karl Stoerzinger and his friends even moved his entire household by bike last June from Inver Grove Heights to the Corcoran neighborhood in South Minneapolis.
There are a wide variety of bikes, trailers and accessories available for carrying cargo. Baskets, pannier bags or even a milk crate strapped to a rear rack is useful for small items. Special cargo bikes like the Dutch “Long John” or the Xtracycle extension for mountain bikes can carry up to 200 lbs. One- and two-wheel cargo trailers are useful for transporting cargo too bulky or too heavy to fit on a bike alone. They also can be detached from the bike when the extra capacity isn’t needed.
The rugged design and broad gear range of mountain bikes make them ideal for pulling heavy loads. The key to comfortably moving heavy cargo using a bike is to operate it like a truck: start from a stopped position in your lowest gear, then progressively shift into your higher gears as you gain speed.
Using bikes to carry cargo makes sense. They are quiet, non-polluting, inexpensive, and can be ridden and parked anywhere. And, of course, it’s terrific exercise.
Cycling for Profit: How to Make a Living With Your Bike,
Jim Gregory, Cycle Publishing, 1999.
Bikes at Work, Inc.
Ames, IA 515-233-6120