The Bicycle Family
more cargo biking and precious cargo biking in Vancouver!
Ideas and Values

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Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.

~fortune-mod version 9708

Social Enterprise:

First and foremost The Bicycle Family is a social enterprise designed to improve our city and the world around us. More Cargo bikes is in itself a social good.1

Creativity:

Craft, to me, means building respect at the same time as building objects; we will not separate human dignity from production. Hand building quality is an integral part of that. As a trained sculptor I work in all mediums that are available and won’t set arbitrary limits on the methods. The point isn’t simply romance or nostalgia, but having the production be done in a way where human needs are met first.

Bicycles are so ingenious that we often overlook their elegant simplicity because we just take it for granted. Our job isn’t just to provide a useful tool, but to make it appealing to use. Appearance and form are not just superficial to function; we care about what the bike looks like. People need a relationship to a tool and that means a lot of care has to go into production and design for that relationship to be solid. Sometimes that relationship requires more subtle connections like texture and other aesthetic material choices. Aesthetics are sometimes not considered as part of the function of a tool. We believe that art and function are inseparable when it comes to human relationship and social utility.

Technology:

Training at the Center for Appropriate Transport I uphold the ideas of the appropriate technology movement. That means using sustainable methods of production for the long run. I define technology as applied science. Flashy trendy products are not really technology. Technology is about the relationship of tool to person and community. Awareness of the whole of what technology is drives us. Bicycles are an example of technology at its best and we strive to bring that inspiration into all that we do.

Lean manufacturing is an aspect of this approach. That means we focus on what cyclists want and need first and foremost.

Local Production:

Jan VanderTuin calls it “micro” manufacturing and microfranchise expansion of social enterprise. Because bicycles are so uniquely simple we are taking them out of the mass production model with the goal of providing local bikes. Local production is better for the environment and allows the consumer to know first hand what goes into it. This means we don’t have to rely on manipulative corporate sales approach to distribution which can only be a good thing.

Networking:

We believe in sharing ideas and working in concert with many others. There is a poison of proprietary thinking infecting our culture as Capitalism searches for new frontiers to fence off and monetize. We NEED social and environmental change NOW and we can’t afford to spend our time on greed and infighting when our goals are so clear and pressing.

Integrity and Community:

We stand behind our products completely. However, it’s not just some kind of Warranty that we throw in. It’s a commitment to helping the individual and community progress with these unusual and life changing cargo-bikes. We will pay good wages and be an “economic” engine for the community. We are not a charity that constantly has the hand out for a donation. We believe that these cargo bikes are incredibly valuable and are glad to be able to add wealth to the community by building them.

Holistic approach:

We understand that these bikes are new to our part of the world (More common in Europe) and infrastructure/support/local experience can be hard to find so we put a lot of emphasis on helping overcome obstacles like parking, storage, weather, hills… and the myriad other small issues that come up. Our job isn’t just to make a bike and hope that it works for you. We’ve got years of experience with them and exist to help you move past the current limitations for human powered transport.

Have Fun:

Humility and a sense of humour are important because we’re all human and being on a mission to improve our city is hard work. We try hard not to take ourselves too seriously. Fun is often a good indicator of success and a metric to avoid wasting our time.

Carfree:

We are competing with the private automobile for public roadspace and we are going to win. We will provide you with the tools and support you need to let go of the autoholic tether.2 Ultimately our cities must change but individuals have to start now to make that happen. A carfree city IS possible. Before that happens we need to be able to imagine it.3 And we need to have ready the tools to live that way – which is why The Bicycle Family is inventing and supplying cargo bike solutions for all your city transport and cargo needs.

Magic and growth:

As more people come to see and realise that it is possible to get around with these bikes there will be exponentially more people wanting to use them. We can’t build enough bikes to replace every car in Vancouver but we can inspire that to happen and that inspiration is magical. In this regard our customers and the producers are acting as one to make the change.

Work in progress:

This page is a work in progress and will be updated frequently. That’s not to say we will withdraw or disown any of the values or commitments set forth here. As we develop and find more clarity we will relay that here.

  1. I’ll write more about the social, medical and environmental benefits of cycling in the future, its a big topic. The hardest part of writing about that is to keep is brief. Feel free to contact me if you have questions. []
  2. apparently the autoholics.org webpage is now broken and links to car ads, oy vey []
  3. Which is why I strongly recommend subscribing to CarBusters magazine and reading The Age of the Bicycle, by Miriam Webster []