Spotted in the Wild: Another DIY Cargo Bike with Creative Wooden Racks

What is DIY? When a rider really wants to get the most utility out of a bicycle they often need to look beyond what is available commercially. Maybe their needs are unique, and nobody has yet attempted to produce, say...

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or a pedal powered mobile home...

or a bike to haul all your stuff around town that you can conceivably build for yourself exclusively out of scavenged materials.

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I'm sure I am not alone in noticing that many of the most innovative cargo bikes in town are ridden by apparently homeless folks. Some of my  family biking friends have a joke, "Is it cargo or is it homeless?" I think about this joke a lot. I haven't asked my friends about it, but it brings up some interesting stuff:

  • the assumption, thankfully fading into the past, that an adult on a bike must be poor, DUI-convicted, loosing at capitalism, basically,
  • the gap between being, "Car-Free" or "Car-Lite" as an ethical consumption choice and not driving as a sometimes unhappy economic necessity,
  • and how that gap makes cross-class transportation advocacy so fraught with misunderstanding and, well, classism,
  • and how that misunderstanding and classism is ironic, since low-income folks are so incredibly disproportionately impacted by car-dependance (anyone got some data I can sight for that assertion?),
  • and how our cargo bike movement loves to take selfies whenever we haul a lawn chair,
  • and every third new cargo bike on the road in the US means a new cargo bike blog,
  • and how every day around the third-world, working folks and parents are doing it right, hauling epic loads and epic families by bike, presumably because bikes and trikes are really good tools for the jobs at hand and because cars and trucks are too expensive for them anyway,
  • and how DIY and crafting culture often involve us folks with relative economic mobility teaching ourselves skills and trades that, to us, feel like they are being recovered from the past, when in reality, lower-income folks have been making useful things from trash, growing food, raising livestock and mending and making-do since before the industrial revolution,
  • and how none of that makes DIY culture, the growing cargo bike culture or the, I dunno, urban homesteading culture at all something to be embarrassed about, just something that benefits from a more more global and more multi-cultural context,
  • and how I often fail to apply that context and I wanna change that,
  • and how I am just so darn impressed with DIY bike-stuff makers!

I get it that some people are very concerned about the perceived safety of some of the rigs I have highlighted here. That's fine. If I was hired as this rider's mechanic, I bet I'd have some safety feedback to offer to them. Here on this blog, I am most interested in sharing what I've seen or learned about cargo and passenger-hauling bikes. Let's assume that other riders are doing the best they can with what they've got and celebrate them for their ingenuity, creativity, or cargo-hauling bad-assery!

Sooooo, with that said, I think I am going to try to take more pictures of the bikes I see in parks and on the streets that are without a doubt cargo bikes and look to me to be ridden by homeless or street-involved folks. If I can, I'll introduce myself to the creative bikers who use these rigs and I'll get their permission to use their photos on the blog. I'll let you know how it goes.

Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the rider or the builder of this bike and trailer. I looked around Pike Market, where Little and I spotted it, but could not find her or him.

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We spotted this bike on the same day as the last DIY woodworking bike. There are two 2x4s running the length of the top tube from the head tube, just below the handlebar stem, and extending about 14 inches behind the rear of the frame. This creates a long boom to support the shopping baskets used for rear cargo and the trailer's hitch. It also makes a nice spot for the rider to stash their umbrella.

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A milk crate tied to the front of the handlebars with clothesline twine. In fact, the 2x4s appear to be held together entirely with twine and duct tape!

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Trailer appears to be a repurposed luggage handtruck. I didn't notice the flat tire when I took these pictures. Too bad! I have a spare patch-kit I could have left in return for these pics.

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Rope is used to creative ends again, here as a trailer hitch.

Cool bike, cool biker!