Josh Guttmacher has talked up the bike move phenomenon for a while. My perception was skewed by the Portlandia skit that featured an inept move-by-bike moving company. When Josh cashed in his own sweat equity from participating in past bike moves and organized a bike move of his own, I had an opportunity to participate.
Josh G. leads the charge.
A bike move is nowhere near the level of unorganization that Fred and Carrie satirized. It may be a loose group of volunteers but they get the job done. When the call goes out people, bikes and bike trailers assemble, coffee and donuts get consumed, and then boxes, housewares, furniture and assorted random stuff is loaded up and pedaled off to it’s new home.
Josh tied the spirit of the Halloween season into the event by encouraging people to wear costumes. I met Dr. Love who was wearing a $2 thrift store lab coat, the Dr. Love name tag came pre-sewn. As he was loading up his bamboo trailer he told me it could carry up to 600 pounds. It gave me confidence that Josh’s book collection would survive the journey. I talked to John, in a flannel shirt and longish hair. His costume: David Foster Wallace. In my initial bewilderment, this being my first bike move, he put me at ease saying “we like a challenge, I think.”
Dr. Love supervises David Foster Wallace.
Potential costume prize winners.
I imagined a bit more precision during a bike move. I thought all the bikes would ride single file through the street but this isn’t necessary. The stuff needs to get from point A to point B. It doesn’t have to be pretty.
Precise moving order.
Steph Routh told what sounded like a horror story about an urban move she once made in New York City using public transportation. She edited a collection of tips and tricks to inspire potential bike movers. The resulting book How to Move by Bike makes me think she saw the light and found an easier way to move.
Bed by bike deliveries.
For someone living a bohemian lifestyle, this seems like a great, low-budget way to move. If you’re a hoarder/pack rat type or if you spend too much time at Mor furniture holiday sales this may not work. From what I can tell bike movers are undaunted and proud of their ability to move anything. I spoke with a woman who mentioned using bikes to move three times in two months. She was resigned to thinking that she’d never move by bike again only because she figured her next move would be out-of-state.
A well planned route uses a bike corridor.
Bike moves, rain or shine.
Even in a light rain, Josh’s effects were transported without incident and unloaded with relative ease from the hands of the many volunteers. It didn’t hurt that the distance between the new and old residence was around a mile. Bike movers enjoy getting together, hanging out and they appreciate some post spoils for their labor. The movee is expected to feed the moving crew and the event tends to end in a festive atmosphere of drinking and eating.
During and after the move I heard some great comments from various conversations. As to who said what it’s a mystery now but the quotes tell a bit of the story:
“This is not a bungie cord, this is my spare tube.”
“This was the shortest bike move ever.”
“Your tires are too big for your trailer. You’ve got a slant.”
“Is this your first bike move? Do you feel accomplished?”
Josh explained that he got into bike moving after hearing about it through his involvement with “bike stuff” in Portland. He expressed having had some tentative feeling initially but he has now participated in enough moves to have earned his Amish barn raising credibility which garnered him the love and support of 20 or so bike movers willing to cart his belongings through the rain soaked streets of Portland.
Tales of a 70 person bike move as seen on CNN if you’re listening this far: