Dream (wittco posted on November 8th, 2012 )

Not a pipe dream. A dream that is being recognized this season.

Prior to DRT people prepared, and prior to DRT people used cargo bikes. Some, a small few, may have even used cargo bikes in a preparatory manner. The history on this combination is more than I known. But what I do know is how obvious the connection is between cargo bikes and preparedness. It is part of living a prepared lifestyle, or a lifestyle of resilience.

In many ways, the fervor started with a photograph by Ethan Jewett, shared among the various social networks, and picked up by BikePortland.org along with an article. Ethan staged this photo for the cover of the NET brochure.

A picture was worth a thousand words. The photo inspired.

During this same time, Ethan, Mike, and I were putting the final touches on the Disaster Relief Trials, many months already in the making, and an exhibition into how cargo bikes can be used in post disaster relief.

DRT joined TransportLand.org and the Oregon Food Bank in a mission to deliver emergency food boxes to those in need. This, along with everything that came before it, are all small steps in the process to Resilience.

Fast-forward to the recent events. In the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, people across the country are making the connection between disaster relief and cargo bikes. A conversation thread started in the DRT Facebook Page, exposing the benefits of a DRT organization for post hurricane Sandy relief.

KGW News (Channel 8, Portland) filmed a segment on Bicycles key for Portland disaster Response prior to hurricane Sandy, but timely shared this last week.

People in all corners of the Internet are sharing photos and testament on how bikes were viable options for transportation, and in many cases, the only option.

In another conversation thread on Facebook, this time in the group, Rolling Orange Bikes, the call out to volunteers was made, “the Red Hook Initiative and Occupy Sandy Relief NYC need you to loan your cargo bike to carry food and supplies to Red Hook, Brooklyn.”

Clearly, the connection between disaster relief and bikes has been made. More specifically, the connection between hauling recovery supplies on a cargo bike.

This is my dream. I would love to be part of a group of people who went to locations in need of recovery supply delivery and spend my whole day hauling. I believe it would make a difference. Bikes are clearly a viable mode of transporting relief and relief transportation. Cargo bikes, doubly so.

Three steps: (1) increase awareness, (2) create a shared vision, and (3) get involved. I think 2012 created a great deal of awareness both in the disasters that occurred around the world, as well as the cargo bike related activities that promoted resilience. There is a want out there for cargo bike relief, but this want lacks an organized vision or leader. Once that vision and leader are established, volunteers will eagerly sign up. I recommend creating useful volunteer organizations within your city that utilize cargo bikes to promote civic good like we are setting up with the Oregon Food Bank. This will allow for the process to be tried, glitches fixed, and the skills will readily transfer to disaster relief. Once your city has a system, people will get involved.

What do you think? Do you share my dream? Can you add to it?

2 Responses

  1. KYouell says:

    It’s the future. More and stronger storms are coming. Gas prices (and the other costs) for fuel are still rising. More people stop me to ask about cargo bikes and tell me about their bikes every day. There’s a synchronicity to this that gives me hope.

    As a teenager I was positive that I wouldn’t live to see my 35th birthday because surely someone would push a big red button and we would blow ourselves up before the year 2000. Moving to Portland and finally being able to live without a car in a time where that’s a free choice, not something forced on me by circumstance, has been a blessing. All the people I’ve met through biking have been wonderful and strong and I finally have hope that things WILL be ok no matter what. Our resilience and creativity will serve us well, no matter what happens.

    I saw tweets from people in Red Hook begging for help and right after that Bikey People saying they were going to take trains of supplies to Red Hook the next morning. There it was, happening in real time. Portland will rally the same if (when) we are called. I’ll be thankful to pitch in and help .

    • wittco says:

      Kath, I like your phrase, “… not something forced on me by circumstance” as it is a choice of yours. This is indeed a good thing. Many people are forced into a lifestyle due to circumstances. Riding a bike (by choice) is a wonderful thing, and will have the added benefit of creating a self-sufficient life. Power goes out: no big deal. Fuel rations: no biggie.

      On the way to school today, I told my sons that we would be able to have food, water, heat, ability to cook, and local transport if we had a disaster. The only thing that would be missed are lights. But…hey, early bed kids (awesome).

      I started to write a post at the end of the summer on the act of making lifestyle choices to aid life. These choices have the benefit of creating Resilience. I used a similar phrase as you. If you want to take your thoughts and observations and turn them into a piece, Stealing Time, or TransportLand would love to share them.

      The theme of my post: More resilient community that can have its everyday luxuries interrupted and still live.

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