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King Creamery adds ice cream to Portland’s bevy of bike-delivery businesses

King Creamery adds ice cream to Portland’s bevy of bike-delivery businesses

king bike with menu

The King Creamery ice cream trike with menu.
(Photos courtesy Jason King)

Portlanders on cargo bikes and trikes will deliver soup, fresh produce, food cart meals, beer and (of course) tamales to your door.

This summer, add another item to the menu: fancy ice cream.

For $24 a month, you can now be a member of King Creamery’s Ice Cream Club and get a bike delivery of three pints of the Northeast Portland-based King family’s latest ice cream concoction. This month’s flavors: “Banana Stand,” “Peaches & Cream” and “Mint Cookies.”

One-month purchases are also available for $25.

“I’ve been making ice cream for, gosh, it’s been eight years or so,” said Jason King, who co-founded the company this spring with his wife, Yvonne. “My wife wanted to have an ice cream party for her birthday one year, so I bought an ice cream machine, and I really got kind of obsessed with making it.”

He was proud of the creative flavors he hit on, so he started bringing the ice cream to events with friends.

“People started asking if they could buy it, and I was just like, ‘Well, I don’t really do that. I just like making different flavors of ice cream,’” he recalled.

Then King, who had grown up in Seattle, moved with his family from Los Angeles back to the Northwest. The former L.A. bike commuter was impressed by Portland’s bike-friendly streets and culture.

“Portland is just so easy to get around by bike,” he said Wednesday. “I’ve lived in a variety of other cities, and when I moved here three or four years ago, I was just shocked at how easy it was.”

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King works at Instrument, a digital creative agency on the edge of Portland’s central eastside. As the daily bike commuter and father of two started thinking about whether he and his wife could start an ice cream business as a side gig, he began to think that a pedal-powered vehicle might be the way to make it work without a storefront.

“I was like, Maybe I could deliver it. Maybe I could deliver it by bike,” he said. “It just seemed like a pretty fun thing to do.”

king family

The King family.

The couple priced traditional ice cream trucks, but they were far more expensive and came loaded with specific regulations. Instead, they decided to buy a wood-paneled cargo trike from Portland Pedalworks for what Jason King said was about $1500.

The trike also doubles as a mobile ice cream stand. King sells his product by the 4-ounce cup, $3 each or two for $5, in parks and commercial areas.

A few months in, the King Creamery club has 30 recurring members and might get 10 to 15 one-off delivery orders. King said he hasn’t yet needed to set a firm geographic boundary for deliveries, and in the case of people with further-flung homes (including one friend in Wilsonville) he’ll deliver by car.

“With a full trike I have yet to go all the way up 33rd,” he said. “I’m almost in good enough shape to.”

Whenever possible, though, he does deliveries by trike.

“I kind of figured people would like the ice cream,” he said. “But actually bicycle delivery, it’s kind of surprising how people get kind of giddy about it. People get really happy when you just show up at their door with ice cream.”

Thanks for the tip to reader Chris Sanderson, whose own bike-based mobile business, the licensed general contracting firm Builder By Bike, just celebrated its fourth birthday. Congrats, Chris!


The post King Creamery adds ice cream to Portland’s bevy of bike-delivery businesses appeared first on BikePortland.org.

King Creamery adds ice cream to Portland’s bevy of bike-delivery businesses

King Creamery adds ice cream to Portland’s bevy of bike-delivery businesses

king bike with menu

The King Creamery ice cream trike with menu.
(Photos courtesy Jason King)

Portlanders on cargo bikes and trikes will deliver soup, fresh produce, food cart meals, beer and (of course) tamales to your door.

This summer, add another item to the menu: fancy ice cream.

For $24 a month, you can now be a member of King Creamery’s Ice Cream Club and get a bike delivery of three pints of the Northeast Portland-based King family’s latest ice cream concoction. This month’s flavors: “Banana Stand,” “Peaches & Cream” and “Mint Cookies.”

One-month purchases are also available for $25.

“I’ve been making ice cream for, gosh, it’s been eight years or so,” said Jason King, who co-founded the company this spring with his wife, Yvonne. “My wife wanted to have an ice cream party for her birthday one year, so I bought an ice cream machine, and I really got kind of obsessed with making it.”

He was proud of the creative flavors he hit on, so he started bringing the ice cream to events with friends.

“People started asking if they could buy it, and I was just like, ‘Well, I don’t really do that. I just like making different flavors of ice cream,’” he recalled.

Then King, who had grown up in Seattle, moved with his family from Los Angeles back to the Northwest. The former L.A. bike commuter was impressed by Portland’s bike-friendly streets and culture.

“Portland is just so easy to get around by bike,” he said Wednesday. “I’ve lived in a variety of other cities, and when I moved here three or four years ago, I was just shocked at how easy it was.”

– Advertisement –


King works at Instrument, a digital creative agency on the edge of Portland’s central eastside. As the daily bike commuter and father of two started thinking about whether he and his wife could start an ice cream business as a side gig, he began to think that a pedal-powered vehicle might be the way to make it work without a storefront.

“I was like, Maybe I could deliver it. Maybe I could deliver it by bike,” he said. “It just seemed like a pretty fun thing to do.”

king family

The King family.

The couple priced traditional ice cream trucks, but they were far more expensive and came loaded with specific regulations. Instead, they decided to buy a wood-paneled cargo trike from Icicle Tricycles for what Jason King said was about $1500.

The trike also doubles as a mobile ice cream stand. King sells his product by the 4-ounce cup, $3 each or two for $5, in parks and commercial areas.

A few months in, the King Creamery club has 30 recurring members and might get 10 to 15 one-off delivery orders. King said he hasn’t yet needed to set a firm geographic boundary for deliveries, and in the case of people with further-flung homes (including one friend in Wilsonville) he’ll deliver by car.

“With a full trike I have yet to go all the way up 33rd,” he said. “I’m almost in good enough shape to.”

Whenever possible, though, he does deliveries by trike.

“I kind of figured people would like the ice cream,” he said. “But actually bicycle delivery, it’s kind of surprising how people get kind of giddy about it. People get really happy when you just show up at their door with ice cream.”

Thanks for the tip to reader Chris Sanderson, whose own bike-based mobile business, the licensed general contracting firm Builder By Bike, just celebrated its fourth birthday. Congrats, Chris!


The post King Creamery adds ice cream to Portland’s bevy of bike-delivery businesses appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Wilsonville company promises ‘perfect shifting’ from phone app and hardware combo

Wilsonville company promises ‘perfect shifting’ from phone app and hardware combo

OTTO Photo Shoot Freddy

The smartphone camera uses the targets on the
gauges to create 3-D models of your gearing.
(Photos courtesy OTTO DesignWorks)

The rising tide of products that combine physical objects with mobile apps has come to do-it-yourself bike maintenance.

OTTO DesignWorks, a startup based a few miles south of Portland in Wilsonville, says its first product will offer “perfect shifting in under five minutes” for people with Shimano and SRAM 9-, 10- and 11-speed gear cassettes.

As the video below shows, the company sells gauges that can be attached to a cassette and derailleur. Its free mobile app then uses a smartphone camera and photogrammatry — the mathematically intensive process of turning images into three-dimensional modeling — to diagnose the situation and walk someone through the tuning process.

The physical gauges will start shipping in early June; preorders are being accepted now. The software is expected to be available in the iOS App Store in the next few weeks.

“This isn’t just about the tuning system; it’s about smart tools. Part of our mission here is to kind of rethink tools and maintenance for cyclists.”
— Jake VanderZanden, OTTO

“I’ve been racing bicycles for 30 years at all kinds of levels, and this actually was a need that was born from my own irritation in swapping wheelsets and then always having to adjust the rear derailleur,” OTTO President Jake VanderZanden said in an interview Tuesday. “While I have an engineering degree, for some reason it’s too complicated for me. I would always wind up watching a YouTube video. … I could always get it close, but never perfect.”

The resulting product is two years in the making, VanderZanden said: six months looking into different product possibilities, a year developing the product and six months working out bugs in the app’s diagnosis process and instructions with what is now a five-person team.

DWFritz Automation, an employer of VanderZanden, is also an investor in the company.

“We found out every lens in every camera in every iPhone is unique, so we actually have built a lens-calibrating model into the software,” VanderZanden said. “We have found that the lighting indoors with shadows, and the lighting outdoors is all unique, so we’ve had to build the app for things like that.”

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OTTO has a patent on its photogrammatry process, which VanderZanden hopes will make this the first product in a line that will include tools for seat positioning, handlebar-fork alignment and front derailleur adjustments.

And maybe someday, for tasks outside the bicycling world too.

“This isn’t just about the tuning system; it’s about smart tools,” VanderZanden said. “Part of our mission here is to kind of rethink tools and maintenance for cyclists.”

He said initial testing in the Portland area has turned up two basic types of customers: “higher-end folks” who want to guarantee a perfect tuneup no matter who works on it, and people who just prefer the convenience of doing the job in what the company describes as five minutes (for someone with practice) or 10 minutes (for a first-timer).

OTTO Video Photo Shoot JV Garage 16388

A closer shot of how the product works.

For some people, VanderZanden said, “pinning a derailleur is kind of a black art and some mechanics are kind of against the idea. But by bringing science into the equation you can get a perfect tune almost every time.”

Only an iPhone app is currently complete. OTTO is working on an Android app that will be specific to Samsung Galaxy devices.

The basic version of the app currently works for one bike at a time, though if you’re working with multiple bikes you’ll be able to delete the profile and enter information anew. You’ll also be able to buy additional bike profiles in the app for $9.99.

VanderZanden said he’s also looking into the possibility of a pro version that could be marketed to bike shops to help mechanics there.

“Automation is finding its way into every walk of our life,” VanderZanden said. “A lot of the tools in the bike maintenance world are classic, but there’s an opportunity with more precision and more speed with automation.”

— Learn more at OttoDesignWorks.com.


The post Wilsonville company promises ‘perfect shifting’ from phone app and hardware combo appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Bike-powered grocery delivery service aims for major expansion

Bike-powered grocery delivery service aims for major expansion

Rolling Oasis, a Lents-based nonprofit that home-delivers $20 worth of organic produce to its customers each week, is angling to leap from Southeast into Northeast, too.

Proprietor Brandon Rhodes launched the service a year ago and has been delivering since then in his own Lents neighborhood ever since, adding extras like coffee and jam for additional fees.

“We want post-retail grocery innovations to be accessible for all of our neighbors, not just those who can afford it,” Rhodes writes in the description of the new Indiegogo campaign Rolling Oasis has launched to complete the expansion. “Alternative delivery services inflate their prices beyond what you’d find at Fred Meyer — leaving tighter-budget households behind.”

Starting with a launch party Thursday night, Rolling Oasis is looking to raise $75,000, enough to create three new Neighborhood Hubs in what it’s referring to as the Sabin-King, Cully and Arleta neighborhoods: basically Northeast Portland from Fremont to Lombard and Williams to Interstate 205, plus Southeast Portland from Powell to the Springwater Corridor and 52nd to 82nd.

southeast neighborhoods

Images from Rolling Oasis. Rhodes, right, is pictured with potential colleagues Amanda Brown and Nestór Campos.

Bike Gallery warehouse sale!

Here’s a useful explanation from the campaign page of how it’d work:

rolling oasis container

It isn’t easy being green, but we’d like to make it easier for 1000 Portland households this year. To do that, we will use the money generated by this campaign to debut three Neighborhood Hubs across Portland.

Each Neighborhood Hub is a complete “business in a box” that creates five jobs and services up to 330 households. It’s a 20′ partially refrigerated shipping container, a next-generation Portland-built cargo tricycle, tons of weather-resistant zip-top bags, and more.

And here’s another interesting passage from the FAQ:

Bikes and organic food — is this just another gentrifying novelty business for white hipsters?

Far from it. Equity is foundational to the good we are delivering. We want affordable access to healthful food to be a reality for all economic classes and neighborhoods in Portland, not just the privileged and otherwise well-to-do. Here’s four ways we’re making justice and equity a nonnegotiable part of our practice.

Through our partnership with Vocoform, for example, at least half of all Produce Pedalers in each Hub will come from underresourced communities.
Keeping prices on par with Fred Meyer lets folks eat healthfully without breaking the bank.

We’ll soon be accepting SNAP/EBT payments.

A breakthrough partnership with the Oregon Food Bank will soon allow us to deliver dry goods for free to all SNAP/EBT-paying customers.
These efforts and others demonstrate that Rolling Oasis Grocers is committed to mending Portland’s racial and class wounds.

All of that would sound great to us even if the company didn’t do all its deliveries by bicycle. Which, come to think of it, it does.

Rolling Oasis’ launch party is 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 2, at 1805 NE 2nd Ave.

The post Bike-powered grocery delivery service aims for major expansion appeared first on BikePortland.org.

This $50 device could change bike planning forever

This $50 device could change bike planning forever

henderson with chip

Knock Software founder William Henderson with a matchbox-sized device similar to the one he’s developed that could sell for $50, last for two years and count every bike that passes by.
(Photos: M.Andersen and J.Maus/BikePortland)

Do bikes count?

A three-person Portland startup that hit a jackpot with its first mobile app is plowing profits into a new venture: a cheap, tiny device that could reinvent the science of measuring bike traffic — and help see, for the first time, thousands of people that even the bike-friendliest American cities ignore.

Tomorrow, Portland’s city council will consider a proposal to become their first client.

An app-store hit fuels a passion project

henderson office

When I meet him in his company’s office three floors above Ash Street, William Henderson tells me he doesn’t smile in photos.

“People will think I’m not working,” he says. Then he grins.

Henderson shouldn’t be worried. After graduating from Portland’s Reed College in 2008, he spent two years at Apple before moving to Square, where he worked as lead mobile engineer and then directed the creation of Square Wallet, the ecstatically reviewed but ultimately unsuccessful service that, for a while, let you pay for any Starbucks drink by telling the cashier your name.

Last year, his bootstrapped startup Knock Software created a $4 app that lets you log securely into a Mac by tapping your knuckle twice against your smartphone.

It’s been a hit. So Henderson, a daily bike commuter here in Portland, decided that his next product would be try to improve something he cared about: transportation.

“We got lucky and made a product that did pretty well,” he said. “So we have this awesome luxury, which is money coming in the door for a business, and we can work on something we care about. … Of course we want it to eventually be profitable, but the wolf is away from the door for a little bit.”

Clipboard bike counts: Flawed measurements

Fall leaves on SE Ankeny-7

Southeast Ankeny: Popular, but how popular?

Portland’s decade-thick database of two-hour bike counts conducted once a year by people holding clipboards at 200 locations is the envy of cities around the world.

But it’s also, in important ways, awful. Because bikes are counted mostly from 4 to 6 p.m., the city count ignores people who don’t work 9 to 5 and barely measures non-work trips, which account for 80 percent of the places we go. Because it’s done by humans, it requires 560 hours of staff time plus hundreds more volunteer hours. And because Portland’s counts usually cover just one day a year, they can very wildly with weather and special events.

The result: even in Portland, our understanding of bike traffic is far weaker than our understanding of car or transit traffic, and therefore harder to make smart investments in.

Does a neighborhood greenway increase or decrease biking on nearby commercial streets? Do certain designs appeal more to midday travelers than to rush-hour travelers? How do seasons or construction zones affect people’s route or mode choices? As rents in central Portland have spiraled out of reach for people like restaurant workers — 3 percent of the national labor force but 14 percent of bike commuters, according to the Census Bureau — have East Portland streets seen spikes in midday and late-night bike trips?

The answer to every question: we don’t know.

Currently existing bike counters, like the one on the Hawthorne Bridge or the detection loops used at some intersections, are more sensitive but far more expensive. A typical bike counter, Henderson said, requires not only the hardware required to detect the bike and a computer to store the information but on-board cellular equipment with its own data plan. They sell for about $5,000, he said.

According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s grant proposal, it’s looking to buy 200 of Henderson’s matchbox-sized portable bike counters for $10,000 — $50 apiece.

How Knock’s bike counter works

device in hand

Here’s the secret behind Knock Software’s dirt-cheap bike counter: It doesn’t connect to the Internet.

Instead, it detects every passer-by — with or without a smartphone — and keeps a count in its simple, tiny onboard computer. Then it waits.

Knock’s tools for detecting bikes aren’t new. A magnetic panel the size of a grain of rice detects the distortion a bike creates in a magnetic field as it passes. An infrared camera measures the heat pattern of a human. The new bike counting device combines those observations and uses a speed calculation to guess whether the passer-by is in a car, on a bike or on foot.

What’s new, Henderson says, is what happens when someone who’s installed a special smartphone app passes within 20 or 30 feet of his device. Every time that happens, the device uses a low-energy Bluetooth signal to pass the information to that person’s smartphone, which then uses its own Internet connection to pass the stockpiled bike counts anonymously into the cloud.

The passer-by with the special app might be a city employee or volunteer. Or it could be someone who’s installed Knock’s related product: a new mobile bike route-planning app called Ride.

Ride, which entered private beta testing last week, is the other half of Henderson’s big plan. He wants it to be the app you install to get turn-by-turn bike directions customized to your personal comfort level.

But that’s in the future. For now, he’s focused on finding a “core group of people who are using it just because they’re advocates.” Using data voluntarily gathered via those advocates, Henderson hopes to gradually build features that will appeal to the public at large — and to finance the whole thing by selling the bike count devices to cities like Portland.

For Portland, a $40,000 experiment

Hawthorne Bridge bike counter hits 1 million-7

The Hawthorne Bridge bike counter is precise and visible, but it cost Cycle Oregon $20,000.

Portland Active Transportation Manager Margi Bradway said Monday that the city’s proposed relationship with Henderson’s company is an experiment. It’d be funded by $5,000 from her discretionary budget and a $35,000 grant from Mayor Charlie Hales’ $1 million-a-year “Innovation Program.”

Bradway said the Knock devices wouldn’t replace Portland’s annual clipboard counts unless they work. But if they do, “it would free up a ton of staff time and spreadsheet time.”

“If the cost goes down, then we can put them in places that we’re not counting as much right now,” Bradway said. “We aspire to have a lot richer bike infrastructure in East Portland. … This is a way for us to glean a lot more data from those areas.”

Eventually, Henderson said, the features that’ll be offered by the Ride app would let the city measure not just the quantity of bike trips but their quality.

“What I would love is if in three years, we were able to develop what I call an ‘emotional level of service’ … how an intersection makes you feel,” he said. “You could give hard data to the city that they could use to evaluate their success.”

The post This $50 device could change bike planning forever appeared first on BikePortland.org.

This $50 device could change bike planning forever

This $50 device could change bike planning forever

henderson with chip

Knock Software founder William Henderson with a matchbox-sized device similar to the one he’s developed that could sell for $50, last for two years and count every bike that passes by.
(Photos: M.Andersen and J.Maus/BikePortland)

Do bikes count?

A three-person Portland startup that hit a jackpot with its first mobile app is plowing profits into a new venture: a cheap, tiny device that could reinvent the science of measuring bike traffic — and help see, for the first time, thousands of people that even the bike-friendliest American cities ignore.

Tomorrow, Portland’s city council will consider a proposal to become their first client.

An app-store hit fuels a passion project

henderson office

When I meet him in his company’s office three floors above Ash Street, William Henderson tells me he doesn’t smile in photos.

“People will think I’m not working,” he says. Then he grins.

Henderson shouldn’t be worried. After graduating from Portland’s Reed College in 2008, he spent two years at Apple before moving to Square, where he worked as lead mobile engineer and then directed the creation of Square Wallet, the ecstatically reviewed but ultimately unsuccessful service that, for a while, let you pay for any Starbucks drink by telling the cashier your name.

Last year, his bootstrapped startup Knock Software created a $4 app that lets you log securely into a Mac by tapping your knuckle twice against your smartphone.

It’s been a hit. So Henderson, a daily bike commuter here in Portland, decided that his next product would try to improve something he cared about: transportation.

“We got lucky and made a product that did pretty well,” he said. “So we have this awesome luxury, which is money coming in the door for a business, and we can work on something we care about. … Of course we want it to eventually be profitable, but the wolf is away from the door for a little bit.”

Clipboard bike counts: Flawed measurements

Fall leaves on SE Ankeny-7

Southeast Ankeny: Popular, but how popular?

Portland’s decade-thick database of two-hour bike counts conducted once a year by people holding clipboards at 200 locations is the envy of cities around the world.

But it’s also, in important ways, awful. Because bikes are counted mostly from 4 to 6 p.m., the city count ignores people who don’t work 9 to 5 and barely measures non-work trips, which account for 80 percent of the places we go. Because it’s done by humans, it requires 560 hours of staff time plus hundreds more volunteer hours. And because Portland’s counts usually cover just one day a year, they can very wildly with weather and special events.

The result: even in Portland, our understanding of bike traffic is far weaker than our understanding of car or transit traffic, and therefore harder to make smart investments in.

Does a neighborhood greenway increase or decrease biking on nearby commercial streets? Do certain designs appeal more to midday travelers than to rush-hour travelers? How do seasons or construction zones affect people’s route or mode choices? As rents in central Portland have spiraled out of reach for people like restaurant workers — 3 percent of the national labor force but 14 percent of bike commuters, according to the Census Bureau — have East Portland streets seen spikes in midday and late-night bike trips?

The answer to every question: we don’t know.

Currently existing bike counters, like the one on the Hawthorne Bridge or the detection loops used at some intersections, are more sensitive but far more expensive. A typical bike counter, Henderson said, requires not only the hardware required to detect the bike and a computer to store the information but on-board cellular equipment with its own data plan. They sell for about $5,000, he said.

According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s grant proposal, it’s looking to buy 200 of Henderson’s matchbox-sized portable bike counters for $10,000 — $50 apiece.

How Knock’s bike counter works

device in hand

Here’s the secret behind Knock Software’s dirt-cheap bike counter: It doesn’t connect to the Internet.

Instead, it detects every passer-by — with or without a smartphone — and keeps a count in its simple, tiny onboard computer. Then it waits.

Knock’s tools for detecting bikes aren’t new. A magnetic panel the size of a grain of rice detects the distortion a bike creates in a magnetic field as it passes. An infrared camera measures the heat pattern of a human. The new bike counting device combines those observations and uses a speed calculation to guess whether the passer-by is in a car, on a bike or on foot.

What’s new, Henderson says, is what happens when someone who’s installed a special smartphone app passes within 20 or 30 feet of his device. Every time that happens, the device uses a low-energy Bluetooth signal to pass the information to that person’s smartphone, which then uses its own Internet connection to pass the stockpiled bike counts anonymously into the cloud.

The passer-by with the special app might be a city employee or volunteer. Or it could be someone who’s installed Knock’s related product: a new mobile bike route-planning app called Ride.

Ride, which entered private beta testing last week, is the other half of Henderson’s big plan. He wants it to be the app you install to get turn-by-turn bike directions customized to your personal comfort level.

But that’s in the future. For now, he’s focused on finding a “core group of people who are using it just because they’re advocates.” Using data voluntarily gathered via those advocates, Henderson hopes to gradually build features that will appeal to the public at large — and to finance the whole thing by selling the bike count devices to cities like Portland.

For Portland, a $40,000 experiment

Hawthorne Bridge bike counter hits 1 million-7

The Hawthorne Bridge bike counter is precise and visible, but it cost Cycle Oregon $20,000.

Portland Active Transportation Manager Margi Bradway said Monday that the city’s proposed relationship with Henderson’s company is an experiment. It’d be funded by $5,000 from her discretionary budget and a $35,000 grant from Mayor Charlie Hales’ $1 million-a-year “Innovation Program.”

Bradway said the Knock devices wouldn’t replace Portland’s annual clipboard counts unless they work. But if they do, “it would free up a ton of staff time and spreadsheet time.”

“If the cost goes down, then we can put them in places that we’re not counting as much right now,” Bradway said. “We aspire to have a lot richer bike infrastructure in East Portland. … This is a way for us to glean a lot more data from those areas.”

Eventually, Henderson said, the features that’ll be offered by the Ride app would let the city measure not just the quantity of bike trips but their quality.

“What I would love is if in three years, we were able to develop what I call an ‘emotional level of service’ … how an intersection makes you feel,” he said. “You could give hard data to the city that they could use to evaluate their success.”

The post This $50 device could change bike planning forever appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Portland’s pedal-powered street library blooms into a beloved institution

Portland’s pedal-powered street library blooms into a beloved institution

talking to J with paper

Street Books founder Laura Maulton talks last week with patrons Jonathan and Bam.

After four summers loaded with all the paperbacks you can fit on a cargo trike, Portland’s most public library is rolling merrily forward.

Street Books, created in 2011 by Laura Moulton as a one-time art project, wasn’t conceived as a continuing service. But its immediate popularity among Portlanders who live outside made Moulton realize it was an idea with wheels.

“This year everybody has been reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I think because he just died,” said Diana Rempe, one of Moulton’s two part-time co-librarians, in an interview last week. “I just cannot keep him in there.”

A short documentary about Street Books. Filmmaker Rachel Bracker is aiming to create a longer film.

Last week Street Books celebrated its fourth summer of operation at a fundraiser and party, where it released the video above.

“I’ve been coming here for over three years,” said a young man who gave his name only as Jonathan, after chatting with Rempe and Moulton about the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick near Skidmore Fountain last Tuesday.

“His self-proclaimed masterpiece is A Scanner Darkly,” Jonathan told Rempe. “It’s a lot more nuanced than the film version.”

Thanks to its mobility, the Street Books trike visits a rotating series of sites three days a week during the summer: Old Town’s Right to Dream Too settlement, Skidmore Fountain and waterfront on Tuesdays; the central eastside’s Martin Luther King worker center and St. Francis Parish on Wednesdays; and Sisters of the Road, Bud Clark Commons and the North Park Blocks in the south Pearl on Thursdays.

It wouldn’t work in a motor vehicle, Rempe said.

“I couldn’t go to the places where people are,” she said. “I can’t ride that bike a block without people waving, saying hello, yelling ‘Library lady!’”

Street Books has its own set of library cards and a simple check-out card tucked into the front cover of each book, like most libraries before the digital age:

library card

 

checkout history

The books are mostly donated, though the team sometimes visits Goodwill or other used-book sites to look for material, especially if it’s written in Spanish.

“We really need Spanish-langauge books,” Rempe said.

streetbooks is

Moulton said the idea came out of a conversation about books with a man she knew as “Quiet Joe.”

“We had an author in common that we liked,” she said. “I hadn’t thought about the fact that he might be more well-read than I am.”

That truth — that many people who live outside cherish books and reading but are rarely able to keep libraries of their own — is the heart of the Street Books mission, said Rempe.

“It’s a way to bring together communities that would generally be disparate,” she said. “We’ll be out on the waterfront and people will be jogging by and stop and talk about Street Books and then somebody who’s been living on the street will come by and grab a book, and then those people will have an opportunity to talk about the book that he or she grabbed.”

Rempe recalled a recent conversation with one of her patrons, Heather.

“She was reading The Grapes of Wrath and she was literally crying about the ending,” she said. “This other guy overheard us and he said, ‘Ah, I’ve never read that book.’ So he checked out The Grapes of Wrath, so he and Heather could talk about The Grapes of Wrath.”

book spines

Street Books is on the lookout for a Spanish-speaking volunteer to help or fill in for Rempe, who said her Spanish isn’t strong enough to have the discussions her patrons sometimes hope for.

Thanks to small grants and donations, Rempe, Moulton, their colleague Redd Moon and inventory specialist Ben Hodgson are paid by the hour for their shifts. Rempe said she’s proud to be part of the team.

“I think for a lot of people there’s an assumption that when your primary physical needs are not being met, then you have no interest in filling your other needs like intellectual stimulation, social connection — that’s simply false,” she said. “Intellectual stimulation, connection to others, engagement with the world — those are all just as primary as food and shelter and a place to go to the bathroom.”

streetbooks pedaling

If you’d like, you can support Street Books with a donation or by getting in touch to volunteer: librarian@streetbooks.org.

Correction 9/24: An earlier version of this post misspelled Moulton’s name.

The post Portland’s pedal-powered street library blooms into a beloved institution appeared first on BikePortland.org.

For Portland startup Project 529, fighting bike theft is just the beginning

For Portland startup Project 529, fighting bike theft is just the beginning

529 space

The Project 529 team in the office on Wednesday. Their new free mobile app makes it far easier to track and report a stolen bike, but the company has bigger plans.
(Photos by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Working from an office high above Interstate Avenue, a team of Portlanders has spent the last year quietly building what might be the country’s most ambitious bike-specific software company.

Funded out of pocket by three co-founders and led by the lead creator of the XBox, the ten-person company calling itself Project 529 hit the Internet last month with a web and mobile app that aspires to be a next-generation Stolen Bicycle Registry and with an attention-grabbing petition asking eBay and Craigslist to begin requiring serial numbers for the bikes they sell.

But the most interesting part of Project 529, which is pronounced “five two nine” in reference to the hours of rest and recreation, is what it wants to do.

J Allard, the company’s ballcap-clad CEO, says the firm might create “the eHarmony of trails,” matching riders to their perfect outdoor adventures. Or it might track maintenance reminders and fitness routines, becoming to “the regular Joes” what Allard says the six-year-old Strava has become for “the pros.” Or it might become a digital toolkit for bike shops that need to upgrade their services to compete with online discounters.

Or all of the above.

“We’re thinking long-term,” Allard said in an interview Wednesday. “I want to be the trusted brand that helps you get more out of your bicycle.”

Wherever the company might be headed, its first product, a free bike registry and stolen bike reporting tool called “529 Garage” with no obvious revenue model, certainly looks great:

529 garage
your garage
missing bikes

“We’re kind of starting backwards, right?” 529 spokesman and co-founder Jason Scott said. “Most companies start on a commercial venture and then they give back.”

Instead, he said Project 529 is starting with a social mission — pitting mobile tech against bike theft — and “seeing where it goes from there.” The company developed its free anti-theft app’s features with input from the Portland Police Bureau and Portland State University security, among other law enforcement agencies.

One of the many nice touches: the moment you list your bike as stolen, the app automatically sends a push notification, with photo, to the phones of 529 Garage users for 10 miles in every direction, warning them to keep an eye out.

stolen notice

529 Garage users can get a push notification when nearby bikes are stolen.

Another: the program automatically creates a printable PDF of a reward poster for your bike.

auto posters

Posters of lost bikes hanging in the 529 headquarters Wednesday. One has been recovered so far.

“We are looking at different ways to monetize what we’re doing. but we probably won’t pull that together until version 2 of the product,” Scott said. “We’ll go out for funding after we launch our initial product. So right now we’re in beta with the Garage, and we will launch the fully functional iPhone version around the second week of June, and I think we’ll have the Android version soon after.”

The pilot area for this initial experimentation is, of course, Portland. This Thursday, 13 local bike shops will offer free Project 529 anti-theft stickers and assistance registering bikes on the new site and app:

  • Bike N Hike (Portland, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Milwaukie locations)
  • Crank 2725 SE Ash Street, Portland, OR 97214
  • Cyclepath 2436 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd,, Portland, OR 97212
  • Hi-5 Bikes 3935 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland OR 97212
  • The Lumberyard 2700 NE 82nd Ave, Portland, OR 97220
  • Revolver 6509 N Interstate Ave, Portland, OR 97217
  • Sunset Cycles 5320 NW Central Drive, Portland, OR 97229
  • The Bike Commuter 8301 SE 13th Avenue, Portland OR 97202
  • West End Bikes 1111 SW Stark St, Portland, OR 97205

Project 529 says “a West Coast tour and national bike shop rollout” will follow later this year.

Project 529′s founder and CEO is J Allard, whose official bio says he “crashed his first bike at 4″ and later led the development of the XBox project for Microsoft, leaving in 2010 after 19 years with the company. His co-founders are Lara Ferroni, another former Microsoftie who moonlights as a cookbook writer and commercial photographer, and Scott, a onetime Intel employee who’s worked in political marketing and several startups.

j allard

J Allard, Project 529′s CEO, is a former Microsoft executive and bike lover who became fascinated with bike theft after his own bike was stolen in 2012.

Scott said they settled on bike theft as their first problem to solve after a series of meetings with contacts in the bike industry and elsewhere.

“There was a lot of value that technology can bring to the table that wasn’t being leveraged,” he said.

“Bike theft is a $400 million problem,” said Allard, who two years ago tapped his own digital knowhow to track down and reclaim a $7,500 racing bike that had been stolen from him. “Thieves will steal as many bikes as bike shops will touch this year. … We’re going to find a business model.”

Wherever Project 529 goes from here, though, it’s clear that like so many Portland-born projects, this one is driven primarily by its creators’ passion for two things: good people and good bicycling.

“The bottom line is that we’ve been really successful in those careers, and were kind of excited about (a) working together, and (b) working together on a project that we’re really excited about,” Scott said.

Interested in bikes and tech? Check out Portlander Aaron Kaffen’s Startup Swag ride during PedalPalooza June 14.

The post For Portland startup Project 529, fighting bike theft is just the beginning appeared first on BikePortland.org.

SprocketFly.com creates a web platform for bike-repair housecalls

SprocketFly.com creates a web platform for bike-repair housecalls

Sprocket Fly techs Reid Lustig (left) and Sam Appelbaum
(right) with the service’s first client, Aaron Kaffen
of local web services firm Cloudability.
(Photo courtesy Sprocket Fly.)

Portland is great at delivering things by bike: flowers, pizza, beer, plumbing. A new company wants to be a platform for delivering … bike repairs.

The two-week-old Sprocket Fly is a mobile bike repair service that plans to affiliate with several different bike technicians who’ll travel to homes and businesses for on-site repairs.

“I’m not a huge aggressive commuter or biker, but I enjoy biking, me and my wife and kid here in Northeast Portland,” Sprocket Fly founder Dan Hahn said. “One of the things that has always been a pain for us is getting it into the shop.”

So Hahn, who’s worked in web development and is also an adjunct professor in Portland State University’s psychology department, decided to put together a business that makes it easy for bike users to bring the shop to them.

Like most local shops, Sprocket Fly offers three levels of tuneup, priced at $69, $119 and $189. Its techs accept jobs voluntarily and receive 40 to 60 percent of the net revenue as independent contractors; Sprocket Fly handles parts, marketing, payments, accounting and other overhead costs.

“We wanted to make sure that our bike techs that we eventually attract and come on board feel as though they’re really well compensated,” Hahn said. “The way our compensation works out, as soon as we ramp up here, our techs are going to be among the most well-compensated in the local community.”

Sprocket Fly also gives a portion of the revenue from each job to downtown antipoverty charity Sisters of the Road.

Hahn said one of Sprocket Fly’s first affiliates is Tim Ennis of Rolling Wrench, whose bike shop on wheels we covered here a few years ago. The team has three other techs so far. Hahn hopes to have seven or eight on call during the peak of bike-repair season, probably with each tech committing to take calls on a certain day of the week.

Much of his marketing, Hahn said, is focused on offering on-site bike repair services to central-city employers who want to offer midday repairs as a benefit to their bike-commuting employees.

Here’s a video Hahn made explaining the service, in the style of the about-us videos of web startups that Hahn said helped inspire his entrepreneurship:

Though Hahn doesn’t expect this to be a full-time job any time soon for anyone, including him, he said he looks forward to homebrewing beer for Sprocket Fly team-building events.

“It’s my goal to build a cohesive unit of techs,” he said. “By no means are we just kind of a tech dispatch service. We’re going to be a close-knit group.”

COG Space will offer co-working space and services for bike-related startups

COG Space will offer co-working space and services for bike-related startups

Dave Hoch of CogSpace

Dave Hoch, co-founder of The Cog Space.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

A “recovering SUV driver” with a master’s degree in sustainable business and a job in Portland’s tech sector is setting out to bring two good ideas from the tech industry into the bicycle world: business accelerators and unconference events.

Dave Hoch has just lined up a new co-working space that sets out to serve as an accelerator for Portland’s ever-growing universe of bike-related businesses. Hoch is also hosting an “unconference” event next week designed to bring together people of all sorts interested in “the bike economy.”

Hoch, 33, has been working since December to plan The COG Space. As of this week, he’s sealed a partnership with Forge, a new co-working space for social entrepreneurs and nonprofits that’s planning to open in May at 1410 SW Morrison Street, just west of Interstate 405 near downtown.

Hoch said in an interview last month that in talking with entrepreneurs in the bike world, he’s “hearing they’re really good at their craft, but they’re not business people.”

“The bike community is a lot of boot-strapping,” Hoch said. “A lot of people getting by.”

Hoch hopes that The COG Space can help “raise everyone up together” by offering a suite of services, starting with “affordable” work space but also making it easy to connect with a stable of contractors who offer:

  • accounting / bookkeeping
  • communication / public relations
  • customer service
  • finance
  • legal
  • operations
  • organizational leadership & strategy
  • social media
  • staffing
  • web hosting / development

COG Space members can get specialized coaching in various business skills and strategies, too.

Hoch’s business partner in The Cog Space is Martina Fahrer, co-founder of Southeast Portland bike shop Clever Cycles and a longtime Bicycle Transportation Alliance board member.

In an email Monday, Hoch said he’s looking at a “May-June timeframe” for opening The COG Space. In the meantime, he’s bringing a different tradition from the tech industry into the bike industry: an unconference called UNBIKE.

Held at Velo Cult, 1969 NE 42nd Ave, next Thursday, UNBIKE will invite participants to organize their own ad-hoc breakout sessions about whatever subjects they want to talk about. Anyone who wants to organize a session will pitch it to other attendees, and the group will break into groups according to interest.

Hoch calls it “a user-generated content event that brings together the voices of Portland’s bike businesses. The mission is to bring together the bike community, identify common needs, and join forces in an effort to boost our local economy.”

UNBIKE will start with a 6 pm happy hour and the conversations will run from 7 to 9 pm. The cost is $5.