Bike-powered businesses in Portland


Anna Brones of Wend magazine has an article about business that use bikes to deliver goods and provide services. One company profiled, Soupcycle, delivers organic soup. Another Q19, is a house cleaning service that uses petrochemical-free cleaning agents. The article also mentions bike-powered business in Florida (organic produce delivery), Boston (pick-up and delivery service), and Philadelphia (recycling and compost).

Lazar delivers soup to “Souplandistan,” an area that covers most of inner Portland, with an electrical assist trike. The battery assist helps pull him and his bike and trailer up some of Portland’s hillier streets. Fully loaded the trailer and bike weigh a total of about 200 pounds, but Lazar calculates that he only uses the battery assist about 20% of the time; for the rest, it’s all legs.
Pedaling to Profit: The Upswing of Bike Powered Business


  1. And so the (bike) wheel turns full-circle. As, sadly, the bicycles disappear from places like Beijing, we see the re-emergence of them as quasi-practical vehicles in the “West”.

    Never mind the eco-credentials (likely too little, too late) – this type of thing makes for fun, pleasant and interesting neighbourhoods. Diesel fume spewing delivery vans or a cool bike/trailer? I know which I prefer.

  2. I agree entirely – and I used to be one of these people. I used to pack up an entire stall and contents in a trailer and drag it through the streets of Oxford (UK) to the market. I still go everywhere that I can by bike – I don’t even have a driving license.

    However, I should point out, lest all my fellow cyclists who ride these things complain, that the machine in the picture is a trike not a bike (the 3 wheels are the giveaway!), and also a recumbent (or ‘bent for short), and what’s more a ‘human powered vehicle’ (HPV). I think that’s all the potential cycling factionalism accounted for… ;)

  3. @Zeroy. He’s probably not “allowed” on sidewalks. Bikes/trikes usually aren’t, even if un-powered. But consider that delivery trucks and cars don’t get exemptions from parking/no stopping regulations just because they put their “hazard lights” on. The fact that it is illegal doesn’t stop them parking their shiny metal asses in dangerous and illegal places, though.

  4. @Gadgets123: ‘Twas never my intention to enlighten you. I like bikes. I hate what Beijing is becoming from a transport perspective. It is me that is sad about that – I won’t project my emotions or preferences onto the residents of Beijing/Mumbai/etc. They can do whatever they want. Lift themselves out of poverty to sit in traffic. Great idea.

  5. Bike delivery is used by a few places in Seattle. ‘Zaw, the least fortunately named pizza place on earth, is a take-and-bake pizza place that delivers via bike. Pita Pit does it in Seattle as well, and another pizza place that just closed did bikes and scooters for longer trips.

  6. Excellent! Conservatively, for trips under 10 miles, and cargo up to 50 lbs, appropriately designed – the bicycle system is a perfect delivery vehicle.

    Now, one only needs appropriate infrastructure, road rules, safey & security, and good labor standards to make the most of this opportunity.

    It’s not just for Portland, anybody can do it.

  7. My business partner and I just started a bike-powered business here in Portland, so this is a good article. We’re hoping to have everything together by the beginning of May. Portland, keep a look-out for the Sundae Riders!

  8. The Northwest’s beloved sporting goods chain, G.I. Joe*, is going under. They have bike repair shops in at least some locations. It would be neat to see the equipment and spares bought by locals and used to setup commercial bicycle repair depots.

    * Yeah, I know they changed their name. I prefer the original.

  9. a guy in san francisco was delivering vegan lunches to soma business via bicycle 3 days a week (or 1 for a lower price) in 2000-2001. it sounded like a brutal enterprise though – he was a one-man operation, buying all the raw vegetables, doing all the cooking, and then making all the deliveries.

    he delivered the lunches in a 3-piece little metal cylinder that was a pretty cool device. i still have mine.

    it was an expensive service ($20 per lunch i think) but i felt good supporting a local business with such a unique service. most of the time i didn’t eat the lunches because i’m not a vegan and i haven’t developed a taste for pine nuts etc. but i was overpaid anyway so i didn’t mind.

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