Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Home Improvement by Bicycle

So I have this ancient little house. My partner and I purchased it a few years ago. It was built in 1893--so it survived the 1906 'quake and presumably can survive another one hundred years with proper care. Unfortunately, the last owner didn't have the means to care for it properly... so everything is broken.

Up until last week, that included the front porch. The steps were sagging and the deck was a little skew-ha.  No big deal, right? Just grab some 2x6's and set it to right. Well, understand that I am both interested in exploring responsible alternatives to old-growth redwood and also that I do not own a car to transport lumber with.
I ordered the necessary amount of composite lumber made from recycled plastic bags and wood waste through my local lumber yard. On the day it arrived, I gingerly rolled down there with my Bikes-At-Work 96A trailer. "I'll just toss this on the back and stop at the gym on the way home," I thought. 

So there I was, at the gym, after the lumber yard guy loaded my trailer with a forklift. The boards came in 12' lengths--which really is the max for an 8' trailer! In addition, the boards turned out to weigh something like fifty pounds each. That was one heavy trailer. As you can see in the photo above, I had to choose between blocking the sidewalk and blocking the accessible parking at the gym.  

I made it home, though, and it was an adventure. Now I have a front porch that is at least decked with recycled plastic. The railing is made from recycled lumber that I either pulled out of the old porch or bought at the Urban Ore Ecopark. There's a lot of sweat in that porch--but none of the materials were transported under gasoline-power after they left the lumber yard!

In the future, I expect that we will continue to use combustion-engined trucks to deliver bulk materials to cities like mine. In that same future, though, I expect that adventures like mine will need to become more commonplace.

Three hundred pounds on the BAW trailer is heavy, but the bike is geared low. The heavy weight just means that we roll slower. Rolling slower, though, still means rolling at like three times the speed of walking! Yay bikes!

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