Steven Muir runs a small hobby business called Cycle Trailers NZ Ltd which is based in Christchurch and specializes in making load-carrying cycle trailers. He was inspired to make his first cycle trailer in 2005 after doing a transport audit on his personal car use and discovered that 95% of his around-town car use was for carrying stuff that was too difficult to take on his bike. His first ever trailer was constructed for about $10 from the frame of an old office partition, an old bike for wheels and forks, and a trampoline spring for a hitch. The trailer looked a bit odd but it worked well to take his bass guitar and amplifier off to music practices and do all the shopping. That trailer unfortunately fell apart under 80kg of timber and now he makes stronger trailers from new aluminium, with the aid of a tube bender in a shed in his back yard and has now produced over 200 trailers of various sizes and shapes. The hitch has also evolved and he now uses a quick release ball joint which is very easy to connect and disconnect from the bike.
Producing good quality bike trailers at an affordable cost is a relatively easy task compared to convincing people to use them, even though the trailer will typically pay for itself within a few months from saved vehicle costs. Steven ran a promotional event for two years in a row called the supermarket challenge which effectively demonstrated that bikes are better than cars for shopping even with young kids in tow. Three pairs of bikes & cars set off to three different supermarkets at one, three and six kilometers away. Each was carrying two pre-schoolers (one on the front bar and one in a kid-seat at the rear) and had to collect a weeks worth of groceries, then return to the start point. In every case the bikes were faster, the riders enjoyed the trip, even in the rain (the car drivers generally did not) and the icecream was not as melted on the bike (as assessed by the kids taste test at the end).
Another event Steven ran was the fossil fuel free multi-sport event to demonstrate that you don’t need a vehicle to have fun doing multi-sports that involve kayaking. Seven participants biked 10km from central Christchurch to the Styx River towing their kayaks on trolleys. They then paddled 6km, jogged back to retrieve their kayaks and trolleys, biked back to retrieve their kayaks and returned home. It was a very enjoyable outing and very satisfying knowing that not a drop of fossil fuel was burnt to run the event. Full story with pictures on
Transport uses around 45% of all energy in New Zealand (compared to 11% for domestic electricity) so there are big savings in energy use to be made if more people could switch to doing all their load carrying journeys by bicycle. Steven also coordinates the ICECycles free bike maintenance workshops in the Christchurch suburb of Linwood which aims to get low-income people back riding bikes by fixing up their old ones for free or donating restored bikes. So far the team of volunteers have fixed over 250 bikes and given away over 150. If you have an old bike in Christchurch you’d like to pass on please contact Steven email firstname.lastname@example.org or ph 021 0619296