Moving By Bike

November 12, 2017

move by bike logo (This image was drawn by Shawn Granton, first showed up on t-shirts made at Steph’s Alliterative Move. You can see more of Shawn’s work in his online portfolio)

Shifties love to help when it comes to moving the belongings of other bikers. It’s a big social event. Typically the movee provides coffee and light snacks before the ride, and beer and a meal at the end. The move doubles as a house warming party. You should definitely help on somebody else’s bike move before asking for help on your own move, partly so you know what you’re getting involved in and partly for karma. This is not a moving service for hire. We do this for friendship and good times, not for money.

Knowing this, if you would like a herd of bike trailers to show-up at your place to assist your move in a pedal-powered way, then you’ll want to reach out to interested volunteers on facebook. For the non-facebookers, try joining the shift listserv to rally some troops and get some social media help.

Please give at least a week’s notice.

Also, check the calendar to avoid a conflict with other rides, and perhaps pay some attention to make sure your move doesn’t follow a Midnight Mystery Ride (unless you like a reduced attendance by some hung-over bikers at your Move by Bike event).

group of bike movers

How To Move by Bike

Wanting to give moving by bicycle a try? Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Broadcast the bike move far and wide! Add it to your local bike group’s calendar, post it on a blog, do anything you can think of to get the word out. (In Portland, people add it to Shift’s calendar, announce it on the Shift mailing list, and also send a reminder on that list the day before the move.) It can help to have a theme, like fancy dress, distinguished tie, or puppet/costume. It really is a party on wheels but you have to make this clear in the invitation, because it’s not intuitive. Advertise it as a sort of barn-raising.

  2. Be really, really well prepared day-of so that people can just load-up their bikes and ride. 45 minutes is a pretty good loading-up time to shoot for, allowing plenty of time for people to drink coffee and to accomodate latecomers.

  3. Provide plenty of coffee and donuts at the beginning, and beer and pizza, or something like that, at the end. The best move-by-bikes are when the movee doesn’t skimp on this. It costs a lot less than a truck, and makes everyone happy. This is probably the most important item on the list!

  4. Plan out your best route in advance to avoid steep hills and high-traffic streets as much as possible. If you have any major street crossings, sign up people in advance to cork them and give them instructions on when to be at the front of the pack, so the whole parade can get through at its slow, loaded-down place.

  5. Don’t worry about weather, but do have lots of tarps if it rains. You’ll also want to have lots of bungie cords and tie-downs made out of old bike tubes.

  6. You might need to rent or borrow a truck to finish the job. It’s good to have a backup plan, especially if you have a lot of big things and not a lot of big trailers. You’ll want to think about the logistics of what can fit on each trailer in advance.

  7. Take pictures and share them online! The more people move by bike, the more people want to move by bike.

Additional info

Move by bike veteran and community builder Steph Routh wrote a book about moving bike bike. Check it out!

Historical events archive

For a history of past events, see the Move by Bike events archive.