Answer: Bike On A Bike

Question: How does one return a borrowed bike when their own bike is their only other mode of transportation?
Here’s a product for all of your carbon-neutral bike transportation needs.

Fine print: Must have calves of steel and a sturdy backpack for successful performance. Do not attempt with folding bike on bottom. Dutiful husband not included.

You saw it here first people. Now, don’t go running out trying to market this brain child. We are trademarking this revolutionary technology as we speak. Also in the works: furniture on a bike, seedlings on a bike, and wife on a bike.

Editors note: After substantial research, it turns out that the market for these products is extremely limited. Turns out there are significantly easier ways to transport large items.

In all seriousness, living car free presents some very real challenges for us. We rely heavily on our fleet of bikes: the little folder; the hand-made green bike; the silver road bike; and our B.O.B. trailer. And I cannot express just how very thankful we are that we now live in a flat coastal town. Finding motivation to ride this 6k into town is much easier than it was to find the motivation in Raglan where the 6k involved riding up the side of a mountain. But, as easy as the trip is, riding after dark, in the rain, or with a huge load can be dangerous and inefficient.

We also love that we live two blocks from the bust stop, and that the bus runs about a dozen times a day. We’ve done our laundry, grocery shopping, and even transported timber back from town on the bus. I’ve made a little group of commuting friends who seem to ride the same routes as I do regularly, mostly older or mentally handicapped folks, or both. My favorite is an older Maori gent named Tui, who shouts a big “There she is!” every time I board, and then proceeds to tell the rest of the passengers “She’s American, you know?”. Not sure whether that’s meant as a warning or a kudos. Either way, I like to think of him as my bus boyfriend. Don’t tell the hubs. But, as nice as the bus is, the last bus is at 5:10pm and there are no buses on Sundays. What is up with that Wanganui District Council?

So really, if we want to do anything in the evenings, or transport large items. We are at the mercy of the generosity of friends. And they have been extremely generous. If we even mention that we might want to pick something up in town, we have several offers of people who are willing to help us. Heck, even our new neighbor over the back fence offered us her car after watching us carry a load of lumber back from the bus. This offer would have been more useful just a few minutes earlier, but its nice that she put it out there. But, its not sustainable environmentally or socially to rely on people shuttling us back and forth to town.

So we are left with some options. One option is to set up a barter system with one of our friends or neighbors who has a car. If we set up some kind of car share system, then with some planning we could eliminate the extra trips involved in shuttling back and forth and would feel like we are contributing to a mutually beneficial relationship (instead of a parasitical one?).

Another option of course is to cave in and join the ranks of car ownership. And there are endless details involved in that decision. Do we buy a really flash new eco car or go down the used-car route? Would we buy a small fuel efficient model or a bigger car that we could use to haul loads? We would we really have the self-discipline to limit ourselves to mandatory trips only or would our lifestyle significantly change?


What do you think? What would you do? What do you do? How do we contribute to the creation of a sustainable transportation culture without sacrificing our individual needs? Or is that even possible?

-June Cleverer

6 thoughts on “Answer: Bike On A Bike”

  1. Loving this series. You're both brave people — it's great watching this unfold from the comfort of my Maine condo!

    Have you thought about a used diesel that you could retrofit as a biodiesel? Are there local restaurants that throw away used veggie oil that you could collect?

  2. @Harry-

    Glad you're enjoying the blog. Sometimes its a fine line between brave and foolish. 🙂

    Yep, we have definitely thought about bio-diesel. Actually, if we do end up buying a car, it will almost definitely run on diesel, for environmental benefits in the short term, but also so it can be an easy conversion if we decide to swap over to bio-diesel.

    Have a lobster and a Peak Organic Lager for us!

  3. Sean traded in the Jeep for a Jetta TDI and absolutely loves it (and the 45+ mpg), though we haven't tested it on our driveway in winter, yet! The Exchange on NHPR had a show on sustainable transportation on 11/16, and while I didn't listen to the entire show, the gist was that sustainable transportation is not just about giving up the car, but like so many other things in life, a balance between environment, economic needs, and lifestyles. Is there a service like Zipcar around?

  4. Impressive committment. Does the bus system allow you to port your bikes and carry loads back that are too large to have on your backs? This would increase the flexibility regarding time and weather.
    I wonder if you could request of the regional council to retro fit bike carriers on the front of the buses?

  5. @Lori- Sadly even though our town is the 10th biggest city in NZ, its too small for a service like Zipcar… or maybe its not? I see a new business opportunity for The ECO School.

    @Hadi- Noted. I'll send my letter of complaint to Horizons instead.

    @Rob- Definitely would be good to request that of the regional council. Our folding bike is pretty small, so its not too tough to bring it on the bus, as long as the bus is running.

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