Sometimes, I write things which seem implausible to others, at the time, but not to me. I write about these things because I see possibility in seemingly unattainable things. And, I see no reason not to wonder what if … ?
One of these cases happened right here on this blog.
Last June — on June 13, 2011, to be specific — I wrote a post about a bicycle moving company, located in Montreal, Canada called Déménagement Myette. I stumbled upon this company when I was researching atypical uses for bicycles, and I thought it was amazing. Even though the company’s founder wasn’t the first person to ever think of using a bicycle and a trailer to move large items from one point to another, as far as I could tell, he was the first to start a company to formally provide this service to others.
My reasons for writing about a bicycle moving company were that I thought it was a great idea, and watching them in action (in their video) was fun (even though the video was in French and the majority of my readers are English speaking Americans). I regretted our lack of such a company, here in Boston. It seemed perfect for a congested city, particularly in early September, when all of the apartments change hands.
“This arrangement would provide a very economical way for apartment dwellers to move since they would have less furniture than a typical single family home. In fact, in college towns like Boston, a bicycle moving company could make the start of the academic year much easier on everyone by lessening the number of moving trucks blocking the roads as apartments turn over. …
There are numerous advantages to using bicycles to transport goods. The more compact bikes and trailers take up less room on the road and cause less congestion when parked outside of a residence to move items in and out of the home. This is of particular importance in densely populated urban environments where parking outside of apartment buildings is limited.
Other advantages include conservation of fuel and the absence of emissions when using bicycles to do the hauling. The human element shouldn’t be overlooked either. While it’s true that the physical activity involved in carrying furniture and appliances builds strength, it’s equally true that riding a bicycle adds a cardiovascular workout to the weight lifting aspect of the job. This combination leads to healthier, more fit movers who would be in better shape for lifting and carrying large items over a longer period of time.
Maintaining bicycles is also more economical than maintaining a fleet of trucks. And less storage space is required to house bicycle moving equipment. Overall, a bicycle moving service provides a more economical and environmentally friendly approach to moving.”
After posting these ideas on my blog, I wondered how other cyclists would react. To my complete and utter dismay, readers decided to share this post on Reddit and Facebook. Quite a bit of discussion ensued about this topic in general, and my blog post in particular — both in the U.S. and in Canada.
I also received feedback on it. Most readers were impressed with this company, their idea, and their service, but they were skeptical about the possibility of a similar company starting up in the U.S. They were convinced that Americans wouldn’t appreciate bicycles in any context other than as recreational vehicles.
I was also skeptical, due to our car-centric culture, and the fact that bikes constitute such a small minority on American roads. My response to readers who said it could never happen here was: “never say ‘never.’” And further, given the amount of bicycle moving company enthusiasm my post generated, the idea of someone acting on it seemed plausible to me.
Imagine my surprise, when I was reviewing the national bicycle news yesterday (January 4, 2012), and I saw the following press release: Gentle Giant Pedals Its New Bicycle Service. Admittedly, most people seeing this title would just ignore it, since it’s not very informative — unless you’re a bicycling blogger, in which case, it captures your attention.
The press release’s subtitle was a little better: “‘Sustainable Business Leader’ Gentle Giant Moving Company Unveils Diesel Free Way to Move Within Boston.” Give up, yet? OK, I’ll explain it.
Gentle Giant is a moving company, which started in the Boston area. They offer moving services throughout the country. Recently, they decided to offer a bicycle moving service like the one offered in Canada by Déménagement Myette. The press release provided sketchy information about the service:
“Customers choosing the Bike Moves service will get a minimum crew of two Giants with one or two bicycle rigs, with the option of a third rig and additional Giants if needed.”
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any details about the bicycle moving service on their website — however, some general information was posted on their blog:
“Gentle Giant Moving Company in Boston is now offering moving services using specialty cargo-carrier bicycles. It may sound crazy, but it actually makes sense for many urban movers. The bicycles allow Boston residents relocating within the city to move stress free without the use of large, diesel consuming trucks that require buying expensive, city-issued parking permits.
The bicycles, and trailers, are purpose-built from heavy-duty aluminum to carry up to 300 pounds. The ‘Bike Moves’ service is for customers in the Boston metro area that need to move small loads in a dense urban environment. The savings on diesel fuel and parking permits means that bicycle moves can be a more affordable option too.”
Is it me, or does this description of how a bicycle moving service could be used in Boston sound familiar?
Anyway, it’s great to see someone in the U.S trying this out. One difference I noticed between the Gentle Giant service and the Déménagement Myette service is that Gentle Giant plans to offer their service year-round. Déménagement Myette discontinues their service during the winter months. The weather may be too harsh in Canada, at that time of year, to make a bicycle moving service feasible. It’s pretty cold and snowy in New England, as well, so it will be interesting to see how Gentle Giant handles this aspect of the business.
From a bicycle advocacy standpoint, I was sorry to see so little interest in this event, on the part of the U.S. media. Only outlets which typically publish press releases even mentioned it — and those were few and far between. Nonetheless, we can chalk it up as another first for Boston. With a little luck, the bicycle moving company idea will catch on as well as Boston’s bike share program did. And, if so, bicycle use will gain respect, inch by inch, until it’s completely integrated into American society.