The Bicycle Moving Company Concept Comes to America

Gentle Giant Bike Movers

 

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.

 

Déménagement Myette Bicycle Moving Company

 

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.

I wrote:

“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.

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12 Responses to The Bicycle Moving Company Concept Comes to America

  1. Alex says:

    I’ve been waiting for a “green” way to move my small apartmentfor years now; I’ve never needed a big truck and it was always a hassle to park in Back Bay. Can’t wait to call Gentle Giant next time I move!

  2. Hello from Montreal and thanks for that great article! I’m Julien, the owner of Déménagement Myette, and I’m really impressed and happy to learn about that new bike move service in Boston. I also wanted to say that I, too, was at first skeptical about bike moves. When I started my project back in 2008, it was more for fun, as a challenge. My intent was not really to start a company because I didn’t think people were ready for that. But as you said, we should never say never! Some things you may like to know:

    – Since last summer there’s also a bike moving service in France
    – Our main video is subtitled in English, just click on the CC icon
    – I’ve written a bike moving howto guide, it will be available in English very soon

    • Hi Julien,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for providing us with useful bike moving information and a how-to guide. If you hadn’t started a successful bike moving service in Montreal (even if it was originally for fun), we might never have had the incentive we needed to start one here in Boston.

      By the way, I did notice that your main video had English subtitles, but I wasn’t sure whether my readers were aware of it — you don’t often see foreign language videos on U.S. blogs. I can understand most of the French in your videos, and I thought that the action was self-explanatory, even for English speakers who didn’t enable the subtitles.

      I wasn’t aware of the new bike moving service in France. It looks as if bike moving services are becoming an international trend — one which provides a more economical way for people to move, while also being a step in the right direction for protecting the environment.

      • Did your hear about Vic’s Moving from Kansas City, another traditional moving company that now offers bike moves in option? 🙂

        BTW, my bike move howto guide is now translated in English.

        • I hadn’t heard about Vic’s Moving Company, although I think that Kansas City is a great place to start a bicycle moving service. Now that we have several companies to serve as an example, and the English version of your how-to guide for reference, people will have access to the knowledge they need to set up a bicycle moving business. This should lead to more companies starting up in the U.S. and elsewhere. Let me know if you hear about other new companies; I’d like to keep track of this trend.

  3. Déménagement montréal says:

    Très bon article avec des infos très intéressantes. Cela me laisse une bonne opinion sur votre site, je reviendrais certainement!

  4. Mini Moves & more, inc. says:

    I wanted to thank you for this great read article! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it.

  5. Professional Movers in Montreal says:

    Obviously they are looking great in action and friendly with atmosphere but i wonder to know whether they move piano also?

  6. jimmikorbet says:

    An impressive post, I just gave this to a colleague who is doing a little analysis on this topic. And he is very happy and thanking me for finding it. But all thanks to you for writing in such simple words. Big thumb up for this blog post!

  7. I have started a moving service in New Orleans called MOVE IT! by bike. It is only two months old and so far have had two moves.

    • Tim Colglazier says:

      We are still moving it by bike in New Orleans. Our business has grown to the point that it is what I do full time.

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