Some predictions come true before they’ve even
In October 2007, JLC illustrator Tim Healey envisioned
a future in which pickup trucks would be replaced by
freight-hauling bicycles (below). Who knew then that a few
intrepid builders had already made the switch? Among them is
Salida, Colo., straw-bale builder Greg Walter, who relies on a
flatbed bicycle trailer manufactured by Bikes At Work in Ames,
Proper balancing of the load is critical when carrying long
pieces of dimension lumber, notes Walter. Here a bundle of
shingles strapped to the front of the load provides just the
Like motorized contractors, Walter has the lumberyard deliver
the initial lumber package to the job site. But for picking up
the inevitable small batch of dimension lumber or other
needed-right-now material, the bicycle flatbed is his vehicle
of choice. “When I load the trailer at the
lumberyard,” he says, “I often head out of there
with more material than the builder next to me has in his
Although the manufacturer rates the trailer for a 300-pound
payload, Walter has occasionally used it to transport nearly
twice that amount. Once bike and trailer are in motion, he
says, even heavy loads are surprisingly manageable on flat
roads (he once pedaled a full-sized washing machine from the
local Sears store to a customer’s new home 10 miles
away). Still, he concedes that hills are a challenge.
“Sometimes you’ll be grinding uphill in your lowest
gear, and you’ll see that you’re being passed by
people walking along the sidewalk,” he says.
Fueled by a nutritious breakfast, Walter grinds up the
final hill to the job site with six bags of slaked lime, two
boxes of electrical parts, and various odds and ends in tow.
amount of tongue weight.
Admittedly, two-wheeled transport isn’t for everyone.
Walter builds one house a year, and his projects are all within
a very few miles of town and the local lumberyard. And because
he usually bikes to work anyway, it’s simple enough to
stop at the yard in the morning for any materials that will be
needed that day.
Bicycle delivery also requires some planning, Walter points
out, since it’s a waste of time and energy to pedal back
to town for those 2x8s you should have thought to get that
morning. But then, with diesel fuel pushing $5 a gallon, those
last-minute lumberyard runs are starting to look like a bad
idea for everyone. — Jon Vara