Human powered.

From the zine How to have an amazingly adventurous life for zero dollars a day.

I am making a trailer for my bicycle out of bamboo, old bike wheels, steel plate and bolts.  The only tools needed are a drill and a vice.  And a measuring tape and probably a few other things.

photo: carry freedom

I feel a lot more independent being able to carry more stuff around and not be dependent on cars.  Lots of large tools and plants can be carried, bales of mulch, children…

I’m using the CarryFreedom design for my trailer (, which needs minimal tools, skills and money to build, and can carry quite a bit of weight.  I’ve seen homemade trailers built from wheelchairs, supermarket shelving, roadworks signs.  Probably anything with wheels could be converted – a trike, go kart, golf buggy, pram…

photo: Bicycle Victoria

I’ve done pretty well with only a pannier rack and panniers.  Keeping occy straps attached to the rack is always useful.  I’ve carried long bamboo poles strapped to the bike frame, pot plants and mulch in the panniers, large boxes of food on the rack, and I’ve even managed a banana lounge that I found in hard rubbish.

collecting mulch with a bicycle, panniers and a rake

A friend’s dad made a trailer to carry two kayaks, which clips to the seat post of a bike.  He’s better at welding and building skills than I am.

An easy option for a trailer is to strap a sacktruck or canvas shopping cart to a pannier rack.  When I brought home a hard-rubbish wheelie bin to make into a compost toilet, I strapped it to my pannier rack with an occy strap and towed it home.  I had fun amusing passers-by, and even had a truck driver inform me “excuse me, you’ve got a bin tangled up in your bike” as if it had somehow happened by accident and I hadn’t noticed.

Some other options for human-powered transport.

Christiania bikes and cargo bikes are a trike with two wheels at the front, with a large box between the handlebars that can hold several small children and much else besides.

Rickshaws can carry two or three passengers.  I’d like to start a rickshaw taxi business in Adelaide, it would be the perfect way to get around the city.  It’s happening in a few other Australian cities.  They could take business people to meetings, children to school, uni students on pub crawls, produce to market, and tourists to see the sights.

Options for cycling with children are a baby seat on the crossbar or rear rack, trailer, tag-along (it’s like the back half of a kids bike that attaches behind an adult’s bike), and tandem.

Long bikes can carry a passenger on the rear rack, and lots of gear in the panniers.  Good for camping or commuting, and carrying kids who have outgrown a tag-along.

A recumbent (it’s like an armchair on wheels) can be good for long rides on fairly flat roads.  Attaching a motor or battery to your bike can give you a boost up steep hills.

Bikes can be disassembled into parts, and the parts put together as new bikes.  With a welder you could invent all manner of human-powered machines.  If you want to get creative, try making yourself a tallbike, trike, sidecar, or chariot.  Check out The Fantastic Bicycles Book by Steven Lindblom for ideas and instructions.

Bike power can be used to drive a front-loading washing machine, a generator to power the TV, or a blender to make smoothies.  Gyms could harness the energy expended on exercise bikes and treadmills, and become power plants.

Getting in a car would be way too boring with all these cool options for making getting anywhere an adventure in itself.


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