Researcher considers cargo bikes as tools for social justice

If more people of modest means had access to an affordable, dependable cargo bike, could they avoid being sucked into “forced car ownership”? Can cargo bikes play a role in rebuilding a city devastated by a major earthquake? Jane Pearce, a PhD student in the Geography department of Canterbury University in Christchurch, New Zealand visited Portland for two weeks this past June to better understand those questions and to further explore the social justice implications of cargo bikes.

On February 22, 2011, a massive earthquake ripped through Pearce’s hometown of Christchurch. 180 people died and much of the city remains, a macabre reminder of what was lost that day. Pearce came to Portland because of the extensive community that has developed around cargo bikes here; but, as a survivor of the Christchurch quake, she found special significance in the Disaster Relief Trials event.

“I believe that cargo bikes could be a way of people on low incomes actually ‘getting one over’ on motorists because of the massive cost savings of not being ‘forced’ into owning a car.”
— Jane Pearce