As Eric Gallo-Miscevich cycles down the Martin Goodman Trail on Queens Quay, it takes a moment for onlookers to understand what they’re seeing.
At first glance it looks like the 19-year-old is riding three bikes at once – two of them seem to hover off the ground in front of him, their wheels not moving, while Gallo-Miscevich pedals away. But in fact, he’s the operator of Bike Share Toronto’s brand new bike-hauling cargo bike.
Gallo-Miscevich admits the machine attracts some odd glances. “Some people look like they’re seeing an alien,” he says.
While his Seussian contraption may look odd, it’s a practical solution to a persistent problem for Bike Share Toronto. Because most users head in the same direction at the same time of day (towards downtown in the morning, away from the core in the afternoon) some bike stations end up with too many bikes and others with too few.
It’s Gallo-Miscevich’s job to “balance” the 1,000-bike fleet by shuttling bicycles from overcrowded stations to empty ones, using only the power of his pedals. He can fit two Bike Share bicycles onto the cargo bike, each one weighing 45 pounds. Moving them around is grueling work, especially during this week’s heat wave, but Gallo-Miscevich is an avid cyclist and loves the job.
“It’s very fun,” he grins. A global development student at Queen’s University for most of the year, he says he took the summer gig at Bike Share because he wanted something “out of the ordinary.” The best part of the work is getting paid to ride.
On an average day, Gallo-Miscevich makes between 30 to 40 trips between stations. To cope with the heat he carries a two-litre sack of water strapped to his back, which he can drink from through a tube while he rides. To keep himself fueled, he tries to eat plenty of pasta.
The cargo bike idea was borrowed from New York City’s Citi Bike program, which pioneered their use to balance its fleet. Before Bike Share introduced its own last week, the program was dependent on three cube vans to redistribute its bikes. The trucks are still being used, but during rush hour they can get stuck in gridlock. By using bike lanes, Gallo-Miscevich can often do the job quicker.
The new vehicle is already a success. According to Scott Hancock, general manager of the company that operates Bike Share, “the cargo bike has significantly increased our service abilities” and the system’s balance has improved even though ridership is up 34 per cent over this time last year. He hopes to add more cargo bikes to the operation.
The introduction of the cargo vehicle hasn’t been completely smooth, however. Although Gallo-Miscevich is an experienced cyclist, it took him some time to get the hang of the heavy-duty ride, which was custom made for Bike Share by a local cargo bicycle expert. “A few times it almost flipped over on me,” Gallo-Miscevich says. He’s since learned to take it easy on the turns.
Despite spending all day wheeling around the city, Gallo-Miscevich still likes to bike in his free time, at least whenever he’s not exhausted. His arduous day job has given him a whole new appreciation for his 10-speed bicycle. “After I get off this bike, I feel I can fly on my bike,” he says.
The idea for Bringley came from company owner Lawrence Brand’s own experiences of living in a small London apartment with no outside bicycle storage, but needing a cargo bike to haul his things around. Lawrence explained: “I needed the carrying capacity that a cargo bike can bring, but didn’t have any outside storage space for bikes at my apartment. Bringley emerged from that need as a compact cargo bike that I could fit into a normal domestic lift, then keep in my apartment’s corridor.”
After building a first prototype in 2014, the Porterlight founder took off on a three month 5,000km journey from Romania to Kazakhstan. The test ride took the Londoner through eight countries, three time zones, and saw the cargo bike crossing mountain ranges, deserts, and bumping along increasingly poorly paved roads. After successfully reaching eastern Kazakhstan, Brand flew back to London to revise the design and found the Porterlight Bicycles company.
If you buy toilet paper online—or shoes or shampoo or groceries—it’s probably partly because of lack of time to shop in person. That convenience comes with a few obvious challenges, like undercutting local businesses and adding to the massive carbon footprint of delivery. So a German startup is testing a new model: An online shop that only features local stores, and offers same-day delivery by cargo bike.
“It all started a year ago, when we saw the piles of packages that employees had ordered online and that they had delivered to the agency,” says Nanna Beyer, who led the project for the local design firm Scholz & Volkmer. “It’s all very convenient. But if you look behind that there are some things going wrong.”
There is great opportunity coming later this year. In September 2015, Richmond, Virginia will become the first American city since 1986 to host the World Road Championships. With 450,000 on-site spectators and 300 million TV viewers expected over the nine days of racing, Richmond 2015 would be a fantastic global platform to promote everyday cycling as a healthy choice for individuals and communities that seek to reduce pollution and live in cleaner and greener surroundings. Along with hosting the World Championships, the city of Richmond is preparing to overhaul its streets to make them more suitable for a wider range of people who want to use bikes for everyday travel. Their aim is to promote one in ten trips to be by bike by the year 2025; up from the current ratio of one in fifty trips.
Cycling is more than just a sporting event. It is an accessible form of transportation and leisure that is versatile across many terrains and most importantly safe and clean for the planet. Some 2 billion people already use bikes throughout the world. Regardless of socioeconomic or cultural background, as well as gender, age, or physical ability, the bicycle is a true champion for all.
Before there was the Model T, there was the Quadricycle. Henry Ford fashioned his original automobile from four bicycle wheels and a chain at the height of Detroit’s 19th-century bike (yes, bike) manufacturing boom. If Detroit rose and fell on for four wheels, its past—and potentially its future—was built on just two. As the city wends its way through bankruptcy court this fall and its core industry lurches back to solvency, the Motor City is revving up to become a manufacturing hub again, this time for a vehicle that has no motor at all: the bicycle.
Most $800 bicycles tout features such as a carbon fork and high-end components. At Heritage Bicycles, the $800 base-model, single-speed bike doesn’t even come with handbrakes—yet they are rolling out the door so fast that the almost three-year-old bike-and-coffee shop in Lakeview will generate more than $1 million in sales this year.
When Salvatore, 33, opened Heritage in early 2012, coffee generated 70 percent of revenue. That figure has dropped to 35 percent, but the coffee shop still draws year-round traffic and is so popular that he is opening three coffee-only outposts, one in Fulton Market and two in Uptown—the first of which opens this month.
Salvatore lives above his store with his wife, Melissa, a photographer, and their son. Melissa Salvatore runs her photography studio out of Heritage Littles, a kid-themed version of Heritage a few blocks south of the bike shop.
The co-entrepreneurial ventures represent a family reinvention: Michael Salvatore spent part of his 20s as an options trader in Chicago before leaving in 2009 to build bikes for Bowery Lane Bicycles in New York. The family moved back to Chicago in 2011 to start Heritage, which has 23 employees.
Salvatore, who has a 2003 bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Arizona, knows more than what excites his own generation. He anticipated that millennial shopping habits would go mainstream and that, as he puts its, “more people would begin to want something authentic, something made locally, and appreciate the story of a mom-and-pop shop.”
So I looked into it and, as it turns out, roads have been around for many thousands of years. And for much of that time, they’ve carried a wide variety of things: feet, carts, horses, wagons, streetcars, buses, bikes, and automobiles. It’s only in the last six or seven decades that we’ve decided cars should get priority.
The roads don’t control us, we control them. We can design them to carry whatever types of traffic we feel are useful, and provide for safe and convenient passage of those different modes. But after World War II, many forces in the US—suburban planning, interstate highway development, the movement of the middle-class out of cities—conspired to create a motorist-dominated streetscape.
In the past two years, the share of Copenhageners who ride their bike to work or school has risen from an already high 36% to 41%. But, as far the city planners are concerned, even that’s not enough. “Pretty much everyone here rides a bike: young, old, both sexes, all levels of education,” reports Andreas Røhl, head of the city’s mobility department. “One of our challenges is, with so many people biking, where can we increase the number? Biking shouldn’t be a sacrifice.”
Priority Bikes hit a home-run with this bike design. 3-speed internal hub, belt drive, puncture-resistant tires, pull-back handlebars. This city bicycle has done everything Self-Propelled City has been begging bike shops to do for years. On their kickstarter page you could have ordered one for $350 but they were sold out quickly. Their kickstarter goal was $30,000 and they ended up raising $556,286 so I would say these bikes will be in demand, and bike shops in cities all over the US should take a very close look at this design and specs. But they will be for sale on the Priority Bike website for $400 and that includes a floor pump with gauge.
I was lucky enough to meet David and to check out the Priority Bike workshop where they are gearing up to build them when they arrive at the end of the year. This bike is one SPC can REALLY get behind. The only thing I would have added would be fenders. But to keep costs down they are something you can add later. All of the needed braze-ons are there to add standard fenders. This bike is about minimalism. And I just have to accept the fact that most people would not go riding in the rain like me, so fenders are not required for those buyers.
NOTE: The rear dropouts on this bike are horizontal, rear facing “track” dropouts in the final design. The Gizmodo article shows the front facing horizontal dropouts that were on the frames of earlier test bikes.
For more information visit Priority Bicycles website: