I’ve spent most of my adult life in filmmaking, and the rest of it commuting, touring and racing on bikes. I was a prudish teenager sent away to boarding school and never actually learned to drive. It was my bike that made me feel independent, bold, and adventurous. I became a hardcore car-free roadie: a single girl riding carbon fiber, necessities on my back, light as a feather and free as the wind. I felt intimately familiar with the power of life on 2-wheels. I did not expect that mid-mid-life crisis I would be newly empowered, enlightened, inspired and called to action--and by a very different kind of a bicycle.


    In fact, at age 42 I was afraid my bike-centric life might be over. I’d reached a point where I could no longer safely pull the double bike trailer up the 22% grade to our hilltop home in Marin. My twins Stormy & Rocko hated being stuffed in their anyway, and so I found myself resorting to the car--even for the shortest errands--which was just depressing, frankly. and I began to wonder if there was such a thing as a bike that could safely and happily get us all up and down that hill. A bike that could bring that independent joyful adventurousness back to me—and to my kids.

 

(formerly know as (R)Evolutions per Minute)

It was a pivotal, magical moment: I typed “carry kids on bike” and hit “search”: endless images of smiling families in gorgeous bakfiets, with groceries and even pets in tow, bike camping or touring on longtails, businesses trading in trucks for a fleet of cargo bikes, grocery stores offering delivery by bike.

In Portland they were moving entire households by bike! Kidical Mass rides were popping up everywhere. And it seemed that almost none of these people could contain their joy--everyone was blogging and posting video and chatting and sharing how cargo bikes have changed their lives! There were forums, galleries, FB groups, advice sites, t-shirts, bumper stickers, clubs, advocates and builders. They’d all fallen head over heels for the cargo bike life--and for eachother. The excitement was palpable.

Whereas the trailer seemed to make the kids feel a bit like luggage, in the ShuttleBug they are my copilots! We sail down our hill, around every switchback, safe, secure, magical. The bike is a revelation, but it was not until a year later, once we added an Ezee electric hub motor to the front wheel of our ShuttleBug, that the true significance became clear. Electric-assist just blew my mind. Marin is a vast and spread-out county and many favorite activities are 5-10 hilly miles away--not a quick ride carrying 100 pounds. With 1200 watts or so at my disposal--when needed--there is no hesitation and no excuse! I can go most anywhere anytime without using the car, and get as much (or as little) exercise as I want.

An electrified cargo bike replaced the car while bringing thrilling joy into our lives, connecting us to each other, our bodies, the community and the environment, AND saving money, stress, gas and emissions.

The excitement was palpable. I was captivated by this passionate community—months before the arrival of our dazzling JoeBike ShuttleBug.

Josef Bray-Ali rides and sells cargo bikes at Flying Pigeon LA. He said it best:


The night I assembled my Workcycles bakfiets in the autumn of 2007 and rode it home, I cried tears of joy.


For me, the bakfiets was a release from the obligation most parents feel to trap themselves in minivans, traffic, stress, and health and happiness goals that are ‘unrealistic given our hectic schedule’.


It was a middle finger to the entire 20th century pattern of sprawl, urban ruin, and disgusting over-investment in a car-only lifestyle.”


I wanted everyone to have this experience! I began exploring the idea of making a film.

The more connections I made online, the more stories I heard of regular folk--some who hadn’t been on a bike in years, getting on a cargo bike and instantly becoming fanatic evangelistic advocates, reaching out and befriending every other cargo bike lover they can find--not only in their towns but via the internet. They can’t help themselves.


What a great story! What if all that contagious enthusiasm was channeled into the production of a crowdsourced. documentary? I created a video trailer, a website and a Facebook group. I distributed a small number of cameras and hardrives, added an upload widget to my site, and asked folks to become co-directors by shooting and submitting video. My hope was that we could inspire eachother and together tell the story of how something as simple as a bicycle--via something as complex as the internet--is creating a strong community determined to share their joy, convert the masses, and bring cargo bikes into the mainsteam.

Since posting 2 versions of the video trailer it’s been viewed online over 100,000 times, and traveled the world as part of the 2012 Bicycle Film Festival. Our very active Facebook group has over 1200 members, I’ve been inundated with email and video from cargo bike lovers all over the world. Something like 6 TB of content so far!


On a trip to Portland I was housed, transported and fed by co-directors while shooting 4-5 interviews a day and attending local Cargo Bike Roll Call events. Meanwhile, co-directors have actually hosted gatherings of local cargo bike folk who were all interviewed, followed by a group ride captured on video. Others have spent their summer vacation interviewing fellow riders wherever they found them. There have been many collaborations between professional shooters and cargo bike advocates, and some shooters who are cyclists themselves have sent me video of cargo bike-centered events.

There’s a lot more to this story than another bicycle industry trend or effort to reduce emissions. The truly compelling aspect of the cargo bike boom is in the way these bikes enhance our everyday lives and somehow give us faith that maybe--just maybe--the world is not going to hell in a handbasket. I want to make a film that makes viewers want to get on a utility bike and give it a spin. To give themselves a chance to think of the car as a lame compromise. A chance to believe in the ever-evolving power of bikes.


So join the Facebook group, connect with cargo cyclists in your community, send me an email, shoot and submit video, and support the LESS CAR MORE GO Kickstarter campaign!