Our shopwarming party last Friday was a blast, as was the first ever KIDical Mass in Sonoma County. Here’s some great photos from the ride by Victoria Webb.
Directions can be found here.
Today is National Walk and Bike to School Day. According to the National Center for Safe Routes to School, over 1,400 schools nationwide registered for the event and there was even a story about it on US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s blog.
I rolled out to two schools in north Portland this morning to check out the action (more photos below). When I got back to my office and went online, I searched for press releases, Twitter updates, and so on from the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance; but there were none to be found.
Turns out that in Portland, National Walk and Bike to School Day isn’t a big deal. Biking and walking to school certainly is, but this particular national holiday doesn’t register. And you can’t blame PBOT and the BTA. They oversee some of the largest, most comprehensive, and most successful walking and biking to school programs in the country.
This collective yawn from local advocates and our transportation bureau reminds me of other national bike events that don’t really make much noise here. I’m thinking of critical mass, the New Belgium Tour de Fat, the Bicycle Film Festival, and so on. Each one of those still happen in other cities, but they’ve come and gone in Portland due to lack of interest and a local preference for home-grown versions and other pursuits.
Even so, there were still special celebrations at some local schools and, like everyday, there were tons of kids walking and biking to school in Portland today! Below are a few photos from Trillium Charter School and Beach School in North Portland…
Yuba Bicycles has won a coveted Green Dot Award in the category of Transport for its Boda Boda cargo bike. Green Dot Awards are given to recognize businesses that have exceptionally high environmental standards and meet the needs of the present without compromising future generations.
“We are extremely proud to be recognized as an environmental leader,” says Yuba Bicycles founder Benjamin Sarrazin. “The Yuba mission is to get people out of their cars and onto our cargo bikes to save gas, improve their health, save money and build more sustainable communities.”
The Yuba Boda Boda and other winners recognized for green design can be seen at greendotawards.com.
Having just received our own Yuba Boda Boda in for review, I realized it’d been a while since I hauled a “Break In” interview out of the drafts and onto the homepage. So, while our pretty new green bike transports kids, groceries and other stuff around town with me, I hope this interview with founder Ben Sarrazin transports your thoughts to finding your own way into the wonderful cycling industry…
BIKERUMOR: Who are you and what are you doing here?
BEN: I’m the founder of Yuba Bicycles, based in Petaluma, California. Yuba was the first company to launch a fully built cargo bike for the North American market, and we have customers around the country and world who use our cargo bikes for work, errands, bringing kids to school. Basically we want to empower people to use pedal power to get work done that would have required a car in the past. I designed the original Mundo cargo bike and I run the company.
Yuba Mundo bikes, their original heavy duty model, at the office.
BIKERUMOR: What was your first job or experience in the cycling industry? How did you “break” in?
BEN: I was born in France, and back in 1984 my father started selling the first mountain bikes in France. This was long before mountain bikes had become a huge global presence. But he saw an opportunity and knew that mountain bikes would blow up in popularity, and he was right. That gave me my first glimpse into the bike industry, dealer visits, trade shows. Then I started doing European sales and work in the German market. In my 20s I traveled the world as a kayaker, and in many parts of the developing world I saw people using bikes to transport goods to market and to carry huge objects because they can’t afford cars. I thought, there should be a strong but nimble bike that would help people carry large objects and empower entrepreneurs. That’s when I had the “eureka” moment about building and selling cargo bikes. Hopefully, just like my father and his vision for mountain bikes, I am helping to launch a new era of cargo biking.
BIKERUMOR: What’s your educational background?
BEN: I studied science and environmental science. I had a very active sporting outdoor life as a youngster, skiing and cycling and hiking, and I’ve always been fascinated by nature. That interest in the natural world and its health is a big part of the mission at Yuba. Climate change from the burning of fossil fuels is changing the planet as we know it. If I can help people get out of their cars and use pedal power instead, to help people lead lives that are more sustainable, then I can feel proud that I am doing the right thing.
The introduction of the Boda Boda, a smaller cargo bike.
BIKERUMOR: After that first experience/job, what was the path to your current position?
BEN: I saw an opening for cargo bikes and bikes for transportation in North America. In Europe people have been riding bikes for transportation forever. In North America, however, practical transportation bikes still take a back seat to fitness and recreation bikes – road bikes and mountain bikes. I saw that with the growing environmental awareness and the pursuit of greener lifestyles in North America that there was a market for cargo bikes. It is still a small market but it is growing and our sales have doubled every year. Many people have never heard of cargo bikes, so part of our goal at Yuba is to educate cyclists and consumers that there are bikes made for getting work done, carrying the kids to school, etc.
BIKERUMOR: What’s a normal day for you?
BEN: I ride my Boda Boda from my house in Petaluma to the Yuba office downtown, where I have a small team of employees whom I consider teammates. I am involved in every aspect of running Yuba: sales, management, production, marketing, design. At the end of the day I ride home to my wife and daughter. Sometimes I can even sneak in a paddle board ride on the waterfront that is just two blocks from my office. People in Petaluma are accustomed to seeing me riding my Mundo or Boda Boda through town carrying my standup paddleboard on the racks.
Ben hauling his Christmas tree home.
BIKERUMOR: What are the highlights of your job?
BEN: I love meeting and hearing the stories of our customers who are using our bikes for all sorts of creative activities. We have small businesses such as Portland Pedal Power that do deliveries on our Mundos. There is a nature photographer who uses his Mundo to carry all his camera and video equipment. We have customers who have started food cart businesses, selling food and hauling all of their cooking equipment by cargo bike. Boise State in Idaho just purchased three Mundos so that staff can transport large objects across campus without using a vehicle. Hearing their stories and their enthusiasm for our bikes feels really good to me. Check out www.yubabikes.com to see some of the stories and videos of our customers using Mundos and Boda Bodas in inspiring ways.
BIKERUMOR: What could you do without?
BEN: Claims and delays in the deliveries of all the components we need to build our bikes. This is something that all small companies deal with.
…and using the SUP/Surfboard attachment (also known as bungie cords).
BIKERUMOR: What advice would you give someone looking to follow your path today?
BEN: My father was an entrepreneur and I feel strongly about the power of entrepreneurship and innovation, but it is also extremely challenging and takes your full commitment. To succeed you must have a product that is innovative or different or helps consumers use bikes in ways they may not have imagined in the past. My advice would be to look at what unique elements or experiences you can bring to the table and to follow your passion. If you are young, get a job in a bike shop so you can learn the wrenching skills that will help you no matter where you end up in the bike industry. Bikes are one of the greatest machines ever invented, and they can help end many of the problems we have on the planet. You may not get rich working in the bike industry, but you will have fun and hopefully will have the opportunity to ride your bikes all the time. For me, bikes are life.
…and the BBQ grill attachment (also AKA lots of bungie cords plus a little imagination).
Many Yuba riders leave Go-Getters on their Mundos year round without mishap. Unfortunately for this Yuba rider in Washington DC, the Metro police mistook his Go-Getter for something much more sinister.
Hello to the wonderful folks at Yuba!
I have a tragic (although sort of humorous) story to tell about my go getter bag on my Yuba, from our Nation’s capital. I biked to a training session up on Capitol Hill, parking my bike outside of Library of Congress and House office buildings. It was locked on a bike rack the way I usually park it with the Go Getter bag empty but still attached to the bike. Later that afternoon it was raining a little bit and I looked outside from the fourth floor window where we were having our training session, to see how wet the bike was getting and noticed a number of Capitol police blocking off the streets.
A friend of mine was also commenting on the large police presence outside wondering what was going on, when we both saw a person with a bomb squad flak jacket approaching the bike rack. This is when I started to get worried. The policeman in the flak jacket had a device on a tripod which turned out to be a portable x-ray device. I hoped that he was approaching the trashcan that was near the bike rack but then my heart sank as I saw him walk over to my bike and set up this portable x-ray machine to look inside the Go Getter bag. At this point I said ‘oh crap I better get outside and tell them that it’s my bike’. So I went down to street-level, found a Capitol police officer and told them that I thought they were investigating the bag that was attached to my bike.
At this point the streets were shutdown in a two block radius and they were stopping people from coming out of the metro station which was nearby. This was causing quite a stir and there were quite a number law-enforcement officials around. I felt really badly because my bike and bag had caused such a headache for people trying to get around and all the law enforcement responders. Eventually he brought me over to the portable command center which was a number of different SUVs and and various other law-enforcement vehicles. I spoke with the lieutenant in charge; I told him the story that that they were investigating the bag attached my bike and they questioned me and collected my personal information. They kept asking me do you usually leave your bag on the bike and why is this bag so large. They also wanted to know the details of what I had in the bag. I think that point I had two yuba cargo straps, a bungee cord and a very small rear taillight – there was really nothing much in the bag. They kept asking me about what was in the bag. I assume they were doing this because they had seen the x-rays of the bag and wanted to know what they were seeing. After they were satisfied, they walked me over to my bike. At this point I was still feeling really badly about causing all the commotion and I had been apologizing profusely about it but also explaining to them that I always left my bag on my bike.
Then when I saw the bag I let out a cry because it was in tatters. They had cut it off the bike at the buckles and Velcro straps, sliced through the wall of the bag, and opened up the panels to get to the internal foam and plastic pieces inside the (well-built) double-walled bag. I couldn’t help myself and I said holy crap that’s a $150 bag. They offered me no sympathy and told me I shouldn’t leave a bag on the bike near the Capitol buildings or anywhere around DC. So I collected my sliced Go Getter bag, a martyr for the cause of promoting bike commuting and goods movement, and returned to my training. (See photos attached) My colleagues were surprised to see the bag, the casualty of bomb squad false alarm and training, and amuses that such a little thing had caused such a big stir.
Wouldn’t it be great if your handy person showed up on a bike, and actually fixed things right the first time? If only there was a Builder by Bike in every city.
For more information about the Itenerant Biodiversity Laboratory, please see their website.