City Guides » Bike Week

Happy trailers

Local entrepreneurs are picking two wheels over four and towing their businesses behind them

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Jess Ross, bread delivery lady - AARON MCKENZIE FRASER

All across the city bikers are getting down to business and businesses are getting on to bikes.

"People need to know that biking is a real option for them personally and professionally," Moira Peters says. She is about to launch her business, Unwined: Tasting Parties by Moira, this summer and she will be carrying all of her supplies by bike trailer (except the wine itself as she is dutifully abiding by the Liquor Corporation's strict policies). She is looking forward to being a visible presence on the streets.

"It's important in terms of the environment, the social fabric of Halifax, the aesthetic of the city, reducing congestion, all that good stuff. And of course the exercise is fantastic. I love hauling myself up and down the hills on my bike."

And she's not alone. Jess Ross has been hauling herself---as well as her German-style breads---up and down Haligonian hills for two years now. She sells her bread at the farmers' market and through a community supported agriculture program. She delivers her one-and-a-half-pound loaves to about 50 customers each delivery day, all by bike.

"I think it's a really good way to be present in your community and be doing commerce," Ross says. "Delivering things by bike means that you are creating a market for yourself---a spatial one even---instead of having a store front and all the overhead that comes with that."

Ross admits that it does take lot of body energy to bike her goods around, but when speaking of her business her smile is contagious. With a laugh in her voice she says, "It's just so fun!"

Jayme Melrose doesn't own a car. She also runs her business out of her bike trailer. She describes herself as a Garden Doula, helping people with their gardens doing design, consultation and sometimes garden work.

"If I do design and consultation then it's just in my backpack, but if I do any work I usually need shovels, rakes, brooms and often plant material. So then I use my bike trailer."

Melrose explains that exclusively using her bike trailer has made her adjust her work style---and it's been for the better.

"I can't just be lazy and throw it all in a truck and take it all away. I have to figure out how to keep those materials on site, which can be a challenge sometimes. But using less energy is actually a principle of biodynamic and often organic agriculture. So using a bike trailer is awesome for that."

And getting a bike trailer business started is only getting easier. This summer Tom MacDonald and Alex Tremblay are initiating Mobile Agents of Change, an organization geared toward helping bikers make trailers. They will be hosting a trailer-making workshop later this month (check out their Facebook page for details).

Tremblay says that the building process only takes about a day---depending on how extravagant you want to get: "We just get a stock electrical conduit, measure the pieces, cut them, bend them and then start assembling the frame with low-temperature welding."

With a process this simple, it's no wonder that more and more businesses are going velocipede---especially at a time when gas prices are steadily climbing. But besides the economic, environmental and exercise benefits of business-biking, Peters, Ross and Melrose all agree that it's just more fun to be working on a human scale. "Showing up all dressed up on a bike," Peters says. "That aesthetic is so Halifax."

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