Monday, December 16, 2013

What if cars were like bikes

The general American view of cycling is rather limited today as evidenced by the polite but blank stares I receive went talking about cargo biking and questions like "Are you a cyclist?". From a layman's point of view (I'm talking about me) there are only three types of bicycles. I got to thinking about how limited our choices would be if car selection was so narrow.

Road bike: These are the sports cars of the biking world. Yes, geometry among the sub-categories vary along with materials and components. However, when all is said and done we are still talking about racing for speed. 

Mountain bike: Whether no suspension, hard tail, or fully suspended it's still a mountain bike. If you take the beefier frame and add skinny road tires you have a commuter bike. Similarly, if you add stronger wider wheels on a road bike you end up with a cross bike. 

BMX: Think X and gravity games. Dirt track racers or half pipe riding freestylers all ride that same basic frame and components with event specific variations. 

Now consider how ludicrous city auto travel would be if the choices were similarly limited.

"My sports car is for weekend racing but I'll put a trailer on it for the annual camping trip."

Look what the guys at found. Crazy Right?

How about, "Honey did you charge up the Hummer last night? I need to pick up groceries and drop of my dry cleaning."

There had to be a better use of brain power back in '09

The car market has sedans, wagons, SUVs, sports cars and so on. Make room for purpose built cargo bikes in the FMZ (five mile zone around your home). Leave your road bike for the century ride. With a cargo bike you simply get on, go, and get as much stuff as you need depending on the model. I still haven't purchased enough groceries to overload a cargo bike. 

CetmaCargo Largo
                          Xtracycle Radish                       Rex Hazard

Stephen Mosca of Go-one LLC said it best in this video on velomobiles. "Think of your garage as a transportation tool box." Use the right tool for the job. Enjoy your city at a pace you can actually taking your surroundings and get as much or as little of a workout in as you like. Electric assist is an option if necessary. 

Would you prefer a  function specific bike or general use with cargo accessories?

Friday, December 13, 2013

The U.S. is waking up to cargo bikes

This has been a good year for cargo bike coverage in the U.S. I've seen models featured in Outside magazine, Men's Journal, The Wall St. Journal, and most recently a widely circulated piece from the AP.

The concept of bicycles as real transportation vehicles is gaining momentum. More and more models are becoming available in the States as well. All this bodes well for the betterment of urban travel and the health of cities. Check out the latest by writer Phuong Le:
Cargo Bikes the new minivan for cycling families

Could you trade your car for a bicycle around town?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Turn your bike into Santa's sleigh

Living in a tourist destination can be a wonderful experience despite coping with the congestion during peek season. This can be exponentially more frustrating when your tourist town is also a holiday shopping attraction. With some basic planning and proper care you can avoid some aspects of the holiday shopping blues by shopping by bike.

Why shopping by bike makes good sense this holiday season:

Parking! Here is what it looks like trying to find parking in one of Santa Monica's parking structures just off the popular 3rd Street Promenade. This was on our way to the beach on Memorial Day. The garages can look like this for weeks leading up to Christmas. 

Parking garage 3rd St. Promenade Santa Monica

Alternatively, you can take your bike, attach a Burly Travoy and lock up in front of the store of your choosing. Bike parking abounds on the West Side. This trailer turns into a shopping cart you take in with you. Add the accessory bags so you can skip store bags and the associated city bag tax.

Burley Travoy at www,

Before parking your car and heading into the store you have to deal with traffic. Enjoy the glorious feeling of using the bike lane to glide past the gridlocked cars waiting to get into the lots or for people to fill their trunks and vacate street paces. A word of caution, holidays cause emotions to run high and people to be distracted. Be extra careful when surrounded by car wielding frenzied shoppers, you want to keep your word when you said "I'll be home for Christmas". Use bike lanes wherever possible. Check Google Maps for bike routes to your shopping destination. On the last few block leading to your shopping Mecca of choice consider walking your bike as the traffic gets thicker. 

Holiday traffic 3rd St Promenade Santa Monica

Forget a New Years resolution, reap the benefits of exercise now. We all indulge to some extent during the holiday season. Biking burns calories. You'll burn even more if you are hauling the gifts from the store with pedal power. Making cycling a practical part of your shopping routine this season will allow for guiltless feasting.

How would you best navigate your city to get holiday shopping done by bike?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Are you a cyclist?

Are you a cyclist? That's the reply I received after extolling the virtues of biking for local transportation and the usefulness of cargo bikes. My marketing friend couldn't understand why I was so enamored with bicycles if I wasn't planning my next century ride.

I am a cyclist, just not the aero-helmet spandex wearing seventy mile an hour hill bombing kind. After criss-crossing the city of Los Angeles all week in my car I only want my bike on the weekends. Riding my bike around Santa Monica is a release. It makes me feel like I know something that car drivers don't.

I am a localist. Some of my best memories are of the people and places I frequented growing up in my home town. Now that I call Santa Monica home, I love it as well. Our grocery stores, parks, and beach are so much more enjoyable when parking and traffic are not part of the process. Getting out of that metal cocoon on wheels puts you in touch with your city in a way that is best experienced by bike. I see more of my surroundings. So yes, I am a cyclist who loves cycling my city.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Celebrating Buy Local week '13 in Santa Monica

In honor of Santa Monica Buy Local Week I have a question.

If I want to: 

Leave my truck at home on the weekend.

Pick up a major appliance.

Get some exercise.

Support a local business in town.

Is all of this Bike Possible in one ride?

It is if you cargo bike it!

Thanks to Lane at Cetma Cargo
If you are in Los Angeles and would like us to stop by your business or event on a future episode of Bike Possible leave a comment or connect directly at

Now that you know you can move appliances by bike what else do you think is possible by bike?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Buy Local Expo kicks off buy local week in Santa Monica

Location: 3rd Street Promenade Santa Monica, CA 90401
Time: 12 - 5 PM
Date: 09/21/2013

Today the Buy Local Expo will be held at the 3rd St. Promenade in Santa Monica between 12 - 5 PM. Please stop by and say “hello!” to some neighbors who'd be glad to see you arriving by bike.  There will be a free bike valet at 3rd/ Arizona and also at SM Bike Center. Enjoy all the samples and treats Santa Monica merchants will have on display. There will also be Buy Local bike lights as a fun freebie.

The Buy Local Expo kicks-off Buy Local SM week. SM Bike Center is hosting a donut and coffee pit stop on Tuesday morning for people riding to work and there will be a handle bar happy hour on Wednesday. At the end of the week, Santa Monica museum of art will have an organized bike ride from Bergamot Arts Center to GLOW Festival. Please join in on any of these you'd like.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sunny California get up and ride

London and Los Angeles: traffic congestion; check and double check. While similar in some respects, the weather is where the two take a dramatic divergence. Here is a shot of CicLAvia near Venice Beach, CA in April of this year. Almost any day of the year could look like this in Southern California.
CicLAvia April, 2013 Downtown to Venice Beach
You have got to give these guys credit for making the point. There is snow on the ground for goodness sake!
LA we have got to get pedaling daily and show the world how practical cycling should be done. There is now better climate for it in the world. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

New convenient cargo bike guide has added a new feature! Visit the link in the header tab listed Cargo Bike Guide This is a growing list of manufacturers of all manner of cargo and kid hauling bi/tricycles. Take advantage of my hours of scouring the web for everything I could find on the industry.

If you know of a builder I have left out please pass along their information in the comments below.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cargobikes rolling down Wall Street

Cargobikes are getting ready to hit their stride in the U.S. market. The last few months have been a boon for this category of bicycle in an ever widening segment of the media. Last week the Wall Street Journal published an article extolling the benefits of these bikes. By the time you are done reading this article you'll really have to ask yourself why you'd ever drive a car within five miles of home.

Wall St. Journal
F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal
Earlier this year in May I was on another late night run to the local drug store for the little one. A quick glance at the magazine rack turned into a prolonged read. In not one, but two separate well read magazines there were cargobikes being featured.

Jerold /

Men's Journal
Looking a the latest Xtracycle reminds me of what I heard a comedian say about his "sudden" fame and mainstream acceptance. "It only took me twenty years to become and overnight success." While I wouldn't call the emergence of the cargobike in America overnight, we have to recognize the major step forward this type of exposure signifies. Now go run out and get one for yourself, while you can still claim to be the first on your block to have one.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A bright spot for bike lanes

What would Santa Monica or downtown Los Angeles look like if you filled it with Copenhangen cycling infrastructure? Awesome. An example of that level of awesome can be found on the Indianapolis Cultural trail. Indianapolis is revitalizing local businesses, connecting neighborhoods, and increasing quality of life for city dwellers.

Lori Miser, Indianapolis Dir of Public Works, Mayor Greg Ballard, Kevin Whited Exec Dir. Indycog, Karen S. Haley Exec Dir Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Brian Payne Pres & CEO Central Indianapolis Community Foundation, Jamision Hutchins Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator, City of Indianapolis, Carole Terry Central Indianapolis Bicycle Association and the many others who made this possible: congratulations on your continued success.

Lets go LA County, this is the future of world class cities!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

How bike commuting makes you smarter

Converting to a weekend bike commuter has been more of a challenge than I anticipated. The first few weekends consisted of enthusiastic trips to the beach with the family. I even made a run to the grocery with one kid in the trailer and one on their own bike. Now that the "new bike smell" is wearing off I realize I have to be smarter about the entire process.

Initially cars seduce us with independence and power. Later they lull us to sleep with convenience. We just jump in, turn a key or push a button, and go. For city cyclists to maximize the "less is more" benefits of biking they have to invest in some thought and planning.

Things to consider before, during, and after running errands by bike:

Is your bike equipped for the types of errands you are running? Make sure you have the necessary space for kids or cargo. Your options run from baskets, racks, and panniers to a variety of trailers. My personal favorite is the cargo bike.


Helmets are given, even if there is a debate about their effectiveness. A bell is the one that I have wiffed on thus far. I can't yell at every car and person that posses a danger to me on the road. Making yourself known in a given space is the best safety measure you can take. Get one.

Lighting options are plentiful. You can run a simple battery powered strobe LED or lights powered by a hub dynamo. I've even seen riders use them as day time running lights. You can also leverage the light of cars in the evening with reflective gear. To give you one less thing to remember try some reflective rims for increased side visibility.

Ok, so you can do more than just rims.
Don't forget locks and general maintenance. Security has so much to offer I'll tackle that another day. The same for bike care. The good thing is that it doesn't take much. I am currently riding a 20 year old MB-6 from Bridgestone that hasn't seen the a wrench or oil since the day I bought it (that has got to change).

All in all, cycling around town requires more engagement with your transportation tool that cars do. That increase interaction with the bike make you use your brain. As the saying goes use it or loose it. Score one for cycling as transportation.

How has cycling around town changed your thinking?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cargobiking the Rex Hazard Way

Back in April I rode the last two miles of CicLavia that started in downtown Los Angeles and wen to Venice beach with my son. On the way back to our starting point we ran into this: 

This rig was clearly hand built with gobs of personality. The bright orange longjohn was being ridden by it's builder Rex Hazard. Rex spoke passionately about building bikes. I was so impressed I asked for an interview and Rex was happy to participate. Here are the highlights of my conversation with Rex.

BL:Who is Rex Hazard and where are you from? 

RH: I grew up in the countryside of Michigan and upstate New York. NOT New York City. Through a course of  destiny I've ended up in the heart of L.A. bike culture. My free time is spent mainly on bikes and projects. Some recent projects include a 15 foot tall sea-saw, free standing two story loft with elevated desk, and for some relaxation time a hot spring adventure in Ojai. 

BL: Describe your relationship with cycling?

RH: I did a little mountain biking and flatland BMX. I spent a few years in Boston recently where I got bike-napped by the S.C.U.L.S. who reintroduced me to the bicycle. The S.C.U.L.S. introduced me to tall bikes which I immediately fell in love with and started building bicycles. I had a dream of riding cross country on my tall bike and finally woke up one morning and decided to make it happen. I got rid of everything I owned and gave my self 7 days of preparation time before leaving. I had never rode more than maybe 30 miles at once before. I did some quick research and took a bus to NYC to launch from there with no set plans or route.Well after 4,000 miles riding a 200 pound tall bike with a portable MIG welder a lot of my design concepts and ideas grew. I used the welder to build bikes for people along the road.

BL: How did you get your start with building bikes? 

RH: Like many engineers and builders I grew up breaking things and taking apart the family VCR...for scientific purposes of course. I got my start in metal work by becoming an automotive collision repair and refinishing technician. 

BL: How did you first learn about cargo bikes? 

RH: Cargo bikes come in many different designs. I consider a cargo bike any bicycle that has a cargo space. Many of the group rides would have bikes of every size and shape, some long, some tall, and some just bizarre. Many of the bikes including freak bikes would be loaded down with gear, food, sound systems, batteries etc. I always take an opportunity to jump on a new set of wheels and understand how weight and geometry affect ride quality and comfort. 

BL: Why did you choose to develop a cargo bike and why a Longjohn? 

RH: Cargo bikes are going to be a common thing very soon because of practicality. Gas prices are rising, people are becoming more environmentally aware, bicycle lanes are spreading, and bicycle awareness advocacy has recently taken a giant leap. People are also becoming more health conscience since most of the food produced these days is horrible for our bodies., 

BL: How long does it take to build? 

RH: It can take anywhere from one day to two weeks depending on design, new or used parts, electric assist add on, paint finish, back orders, etc.

BL: How often do you use your bike instead of a car for local travel (less than 10th miles)? 

RH: I don't own a car. The only time I use a car is when I need to pick up something large. Which will soon be changing because I'm designing a cargo bike with electric assist to haul 4x8 sheets of plywood, couches, and anything large and weighing a couple hundred pounds. with one person effortlessly pedaling. 

BL: Portland is bike crazy and leads the way on cargo bikes.  How big do you think the cargo bike market can be in Los Angeles?

RH: We have greater distances to cover in LA so those wanting to transport items via bike and leave their car at home will love the opportunity to do so affordably. I have exciting new plans for getting the bikes into peoples hands and into bike shops that is not your conventional system of a one man shop. I will be incorporating free school classes on different aspects of metal work, painting, tuning, etc while I simultaneously build bikes. 

BL: What is the big picture for Rex Hazard Bikes? You've mentioned there is more in store than just you Longjohn bike.

RH: I broke my leg in January this year from missing the LAST step of stairs and falling 8 inches. It was my first broken bone and I spent almost 4 months in a wheelchair. During this time I was able to first hand study the difficulties of having no car and living in the city with a disability far from a bus stop with hills in the way and not having an extra $4,000 laying around to buy an electric wheelchair or hire a chauffeur. I started pile ideas together and using my love of bicycles to build a hand cycle, After I built the hand cycle I realized the true freedom would be if I could be as FAST and as MOBILE in a wheelchair around town on street and public transport and in my house as a person with legs and a bike, I Invented a new style of wheelchair that is going to change peoples lives forever. And Just like the cargo bikes it will be easily affordable and attainable.

It was a pleasure getting to know Rex and I am looking forward to taking his front loader for a test ride soon. There will be more to great things from Rex Hazard in the cargobike world and will be there to tell you about it. 

What's the best local artisan bike you've seen in your community?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Has the automobile jumped the shark?

I'll start by saying I really enjoy the automobile, but C'mon Son!

It has 24 speakers, two 12.3 inch high resolution displays, hot stone massage chairs, 156 buttons and switches, and built in perfume dispenser. What I am describing is not a man cave, home theater, nor a boutique spa, it is the 2014 Mercedes Benz S Class.

Has the driving experience in urban areas gotten that bad? Infotainment systems that allow drivers to receive audible updates from Facebook, Twitter, and email  have gone too far. Instead of numbing ourselves to the congestion around us let's relieve the congestion. Get out of the car and on a bike.

With the recent resurgence of the utility bike in the U.S. we have to question the value of the car for city dwellers. Automakers know the jig is up when they are installing an entire living room of technology for driver access on the road. According to the NHTS survey of 2009 the average car trip for shopping and errands is 6.75 miles, totally bike worthy. With in 7 miles of home the bike should be your first transportation option.

Do you think car technology has gotten out of hand? Where does the bike fit into your transportation toolbox?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Santa Monica business owner give bikelocally a thumbs up!

Tonight at our favorite Santa Monica ice cream shop the owner engaged me in a brief conversation. Chris listened intently as I explained the purpose of this site and it's personal meaning to me. He wanted to know about cargo bikes and what you could add on to an existing bike to increase the utility. Of course I gave him a primer on the Xtracycle products. This encounter with a local store owner further emboldened me to share the virtues of using cargo bike to get the most out of West Los Angeles.

Stay tuned for more, more often!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cargo biking for the coolest of the cool

Cargo bikes aren't just for mom's and their babies. As I find my way down the rabbit hole of Googling cargo bike a whim came over me to search "cargo bike wheelie". Here is proof that cargo bikes are for athletes with a sense of urban cool can rock a longjohn front loader too.

Bjarke pulled a good on on a Bullitt by Larry vs Harry

An just so you don't think he's the only one. Here a guy captured by the folks at sustainaburbia.
See what happens when you let dad get on the cargo bike!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Retailers ride the CicLAvia wave to the beach

Venice Blvd. retailers get ready for the wave on consumers flooding you street this morning. CicLAvia will be leading a sea of cyclists your way. Best of all there will no cars obstructing your access to them. From 10 am to 3 pm you can reach out and touch potential shoppers as the cycle past you store on their way to the beach.

Traveling by bike makes you hungry. Since the streets will be closed to cars plan on tons of kids with their parents eager to explore. The release of endorphins from the exercise will create a light happy mood, ideal for trying something new.

As  local retailer, how would use this opportunity to introduce yourself to 10,0000 new potential customers?