A group of cyclists circled Eugene’s Saturday Market towing strange cargo – a band playing songs.
Organized by a local advocacy group dreaming of having more bikes on the streets of Eugene than cars, Saturday’s ride from Monroe Park around the Saturday Market and down to the river was meant to demonstrate one thing: with a With little inspiration and practice, almost anyone can learn to let bikes replace cars even when carrying very heavy objects.
“The possibilities are wide open. There are no limits. You can pretty much cycle almost anything you could transport in a small car,” said Tomoko Sekiguchi, a volunteer with the event organizer. , Climate revolutions by bike.
By the end of Saturday’s event – called “Carry Your Assets: How to Transport Large, Heavy and Bulky Items” – attendees had learned how different types of bikes and accessories, such as trailers, can reduce the need of cars.
Improving opportunities for cycling is a constant refrain among those fighting climate change, because cycling trips never emit greenhouse gases. But awareness rides help make people realize that bikes are an option, Sekiguchi said.
“Bikes are a very individually feasible solution to the climate,” Sekiguchi said. “When people feel overwhelmed by what’s going on in the world and feel like there’s not much they can do about it, that’s one thing they can do.”
Sekiguchi and the other riders first gathered in Monroe Park, with some sharing stories of replacing their cars with bikes. As they moved away, many tugs towed behind them, while others carried members of the local group meadow street.
The Haul Your Assets Ride, after ferrying the group through the Saturday Market, headed out to the Willamette River. The cyclists filled buckets with water, loaded them onto their bikes and rode a short distance to water nearby trees.
The exercise, Sekiguchi said, was intended to give participants hands-on proof that they were capable of carrying anything.
“It’s about breaking through the barrier of thinking you can’t do something,” Sekiguchi said.
A climate impact
Transportation is one of the biggest producers of greenhouse gases in the world, and in Lane County it’s no different.
Transportation accounted for 36% of Lane County’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a 2019 inventory. Passenger vehicles accounted for 51% of total transport emissions and 44% of the total came from commercial vehicles.
Car trips under a mile account for about 10 billion miles a year in the United States, according to a 2009 United States National Household Transportation Survey. Halving that would eliminate up to 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, the equivalent of taking about 400,000 cars off the road per year, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Ready for everything
Willie Hatfield sold his car in 2010, and it’s not like he had nothing to haul.
“I work with my hands,” Hatfield said. “I’m still moving building materials and project supplies. I’ve moved to cities and moved to Eugene. I need to haul a lot of stuff, so having a cargo bike allows me to do all of that. without a car.”
Hatfield, engineer for cargo bike manufacturer Eugene Bike Friday, can easily transport his furniture on his bike. But he is also preparing to transport more vital supplies: water, medicine, food and other emergency necessities.
“Everyone is worried about the Cascadia subduction zone. One of the things people forget about is running out of gas shortly after the event, and that’s where cargo bikes come in. “, said Hatfield. “Cargo bikes, and bikes in general, can play a very important role in a natural disaster. But it takes a bit of inspiration and example for people to understand that.”
The Disaster Relief Trials are a cargo bike competition in Oregon meant to simulate a disastrous “fourth day” supply race. Hatfield first competed in Eugene in 2013 and most recently in Portland earlier this year, where he was the winner.
The competition tasks riders with carrying various heavy objects and a parcel of eggs representing fragile medical supplies. They travel over rough terrain and navigate city streets, designing their own routes to reach checkpoints.
“Everything is more excited when you have a few hundred pounds of disaster relief supplies with you,” Hatfield said.
Disaster relief trials have inspired similar events across the country, and as natural disasters become more frequent, some disaster managers are beginning to integrate bicycles more fully into their response plans.
Sekiguchi said thinking about how bikes can help in disasters and training before they happen can save lives.
“When the fires broke out in 2020 in Phoenix, Oregon, people were trapped in rural areas and unable to get help, and a cyclist went there and found people who had needed help and got them water and supplies and could navigate the roads when others couldn’t,” Sekiguchi said. “An ambulance might not be able to get down the road.”
Awareness and infrastructure
Climate revolutions by bike often holds rides and events meant simply to make it more common for bikers to share the road with cars, which Sekiguchi said hopefully inspires cyclists to ride and drivers to be considerate.
“The idea is a mass bike ride where we have enough people to stop traffic and make an impact,” Sekiguchi said. “We are bike advocates in every way. We attend city council meetings. We weigh in on all active transportation ideas.”
Saturday’s event was the first time Climate Resolutions By Bike focused on using bikes to transport large objects.
Shane Rhodes, manager of transportation options for the City of Eugene, said raising awareness of opportunities for cyclists is what makes existing cycling infrastructure valuable and is most likely to inspire future projects.
Rhodes said active cycling groups and events like the Haul Your Assets Ride can inspire new habits in everyday people. He mentioned programs such as the Safe Routes to School projects aimed at making cycling a more locally viable option.
“If they can see what’s possible, it helps them think it’s something they can do,” Rhodes said. “We are now at this tipping point where we not only have to build the infrastructure, but also educate people on how to use it and what the possibilities are.”
‘We don’t have a blank cheque’:Lane County releases draft unfunded bicycle master plan
While more people on bikes can have a positive impact everywhere, not all cities are equipped to support them.
Although Eugene and Springfield have fairly developed bicycle networks, Lane County is currently working on its Bicycle Master Plan, intended to address rural gaps in bicycle infrastructure. The plan for these projects remains largely unfunded.
Lane County spokeswoman Devon Ashbridge said people in rural communities are often left behind in bicycle planning.
“A lot of the challenges and the reasons why we’re working on this apply both to people who want to cycle for fun or for exercise, as well as commuting and people who want to potentially transport things,” Ashbridge said.
“For the most part, rural roads lack meaningful shoulders, cycle lanes, curbs and sidewalks. The infrastructure for people to cycle separately and further away from vehicles simply does not exist on most rural roads.”