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I attended my first bike move today. You might be wondering what a bike move is. I had never heard about it either until my avid bike mover friend Marina (today was her 29th) was telling me about it a few months ago. So, people get together to help people move, which is wonderful but maybe isn’t so unusual. The amazing part is that they help people move by bike, meaning they take everything, and I mean everything – including beds, couches, refrigerators, you name it – on bikes and bike trailers. I was amazed when I heard about bike moves and I was amazed again today when I participated in my first one.

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Today’s bike move purportedly marks the 10th anniversary of bike moves in Portland, according to one of the participants today. Bike moves are organized through the Shift List, which is a website and email list for people to coordinate biking-related events. The Shift List is largely responsible for creating the incredible, robust and rich bike culture in Portland.

I love bike moves and everything they represent. Let me explain.


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Usually when you move, you use a moving truck or you move with your car and make several trips to and from your old home to your new home. Moving by car or truck emits greenhouse gases, contributes to air pollution and uses gasoline, a dirty fossil fuel. Bike moves completely eliminate these factors as bikes and bike trailers emit no greenhouse gases, don’t pollute the air and they just use simple, clean physical energy that has zero impact on the planet and actually has a positive impact on the human body. So bike moves are awesome in this regard. Plus they show what’s possible in a world where we think we can’t do without  automobiles in our daily lives.


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But the best part of bike moves is the community building part. It’s about people helping others. Often complete strangers with bike trailers will show up on bike moves to help someone move their household. I have yet to see a better example of generosity, cooperation and a “we’re all in this together” mentality.

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The only reward, besides the reward of being of service, is that you’ll be fed after the bike move is over, which is usually a really fun part of the event. The Shift List has made it possible for people to let it be known when they need help and for others who are in a position to help to step in and do so. As with everything else, the more you help other with their bike moves, the more likely it’ll be that when it’s your turn to move, lots of people will show up, ready to lift and haul things for you with their bikes.

Photo Credit: All photos by the author.

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One Response

  1. Aaron says:

    Thank you for writing this. As a long time member of the bike move community I’ve been a fan for many years. Ironically, I actually find it much easier to do moves by bike than with a vehicle. The few times that I’ve helped someone with the latter, it ends up being a lot of work to get the items repeatedly up to the 4ft hight (in the case of a truck bed) or many items simply wont fit in a car. On the other hand, bike trailers are close to the ground, so their easy to load. One time when I moved, the trailer was the same height as the floor. So I just rolled the trailer up to the door and slide the furniture straight onto it.
    Then there’s all the great people I meet and the karma created. I remember one person who was inviting a friend over for dinner. He said,
    “Do you need the address where I live.”
    To which the guy replied, “Dude, I helped you move, remember?”
    Bike moves just bring us all closer together

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