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Pedal Powered Businesses

Photo by The Good Brew Company

THE GOOD BREW COMPANY (VIC)

Deano Goodbrew has been selling kombucha for over ten years. While his Brunswick-based business The Good Brew Company ship their products Australia-wide, Deano regularly jumps on his bike to deliver to the inner-north in the most environmentally friendly way possible. When he’s not zooming around town, Deano and his bike can also be spotted at sustainability events across Melbourne.

What is your business?

I have been running a bike-based brew business called The Good Brew Company since 2007. We are now incorporated and brew predominantly medicinal soft drinks like kombucha.

Who are your customers?

We sell our drinks in bottles and kegs to customers in organic supermarkets, caf.s, restaurants and at festivals. We also sell all the kits, ingredients and brew equipment you need to brew your own kombucha. We want everyone to be able to brew their own medicine, get healthy and be independent of big pharma and big soft drink!

What type of bikes do you use for your business?

My first bike was a modified ice-cream trike that comes apart and travels easily for mini events all over Victoria. I still use it if I am doing an event that requires a second bike. My second bike was a Christiania cargo bike from Peter Santos. Peter helps lots of people make their businesses mobile and he’s an incredible resource for us future-thinking bikepreneurs. My third and favourite bike is the one I use at every event these days—a specially constructed trike with a frame built by Vern Smith Cycles in Maidstone. A good friend of mine was very generous and donated a motorised front wheel, a 36 V battery and a solar panel with an inbuilt regulator that charges the battery. I’ve built two versions of the bar on the back, both with three taps.

Why is your business pedal powered?

When I started my business I was very enthusiastic about climate change activism and societal change, and I still am. The sustainability consultancy I did for a brewery in the Yarra Valley encouraged them to use solar vacuum tubes to preheat the brews (this reduced the environmental impact from the biggest energy use at the brewery, which was boiling the water for the brew) and to keg a larger percentage of output instead of bottles (to reduce the amount of packaging produced); this when served into reusable cups completes the holistic approach. Putting kegs on a bike seemed like the easiest way to get taps more accessible to punters and therefore use more kegs.

What challenges do you face as a pedal powered business?

Somedays the prospect of getting a heavy bike full of liquids across town in a hurry is quite a motivational challenge. But once moving, the faces of delighted beer fans keeps me going! To be honest there’s not many challenges apart from the initial dealing with food safety requirements, but I think it’s heaps easier than most businesses’ initial challenges.

What’s your favourite part of being a business on wheels?

Knowing that I am making a difference environmentally, and raising awareness and consciousness of lateral eco techniques to solve traditional climate damaging logistical problems.

www.goodbrew.com.au

Photo by Robyn Rosenfeldt

HOME COMPOST DOCTORS (VIC)

In Melbourne’s north-east, compost is being pedaled to homes to encourage people to establish or improve their composting systems. The Home Compost Doctors project is run by a handful of volunteers, including Mikoto Araki, who loves riding the electric cargo bike up and down the hills of Heidelberg to promote composting.

What is your project?

Home Compost Doctors in 3081 is a project supported by the 2017 Banyule Environmental Sustainability Grant. We are a free service, making home visits by bicycle. We provide free assessments and advice on how to set up and improve your composting system. We deliver composting materials with our cargo bike. We want to help disadvantaged people in our community so they don’t need to purchase compost from a nursery and they can grow their own food. We use salvaged materials where possible, e.g. making worm farms using Styrofoam boxes, Bokashi buckets using recycle food-grade buckets, etc.

Who are your customers?

Anyone who lives in the postcode area 3081—Heidelberg, Heidelberg West, Heidelberg Heights and Bellfield.

What type of bike do you use for your business?

We use a Yuba Electric Boda Boda Step Through, an electric cargo bike.

Why is your project pedal powered?

As Melbourne’s population is getting bigger, more developments are happening in the suburbs and I can really feel the car increase on the road. Even when I go to the supermarket during the day, the car parks are full. I am very frugal and live very simply. I moved to Murundaka Cohousing Community in Heidelberg Heights in 2011 and joined Transition Banyule where I met like-minded people who are passionate advocates for sustainable living and sustainable transport. I had a car accident and it was like a gift in disguise as I was happy to let go of car ownership. At Murundaka we share cars, so if I need to I can just borrow my neighbour’s car. I am committed to sustainable transport and have been wanting an e-bike to collect materials for composting for a long time, but e-bikes can be quite expensive, so I applied for the Banyule Environmental Sustainability Grant. Our project was awarded it to be able to trial the electric bike.

What challenges do you face as a pedal powered project?

We haven’t worked out the best way to attach the buckets or bike trailer to the cargo bike yet. Also I am not a technical person so I panicked when the power didn’t turn on. The bike can be heavy and hard to balance when carrying a large quantity of stuff.

What’s your favourite part of being a project on wheels?

I love running the project car-free. I love the electric assistance of the e-bike as I don’t need to worry about being too tired— Heidelberg is hilly so it is good to have a little bit of assistance on the hills. The bike can be pushed right next to the spot in the garden where we want to unload, so compost-making becomes much more convenient than carting the compost from a trailer in the driveway in a wheelbarrow. We also save money as there is no cost for petrol as our electricity is solar powered. Parking is easy and I can ride inside the mall to get right in front of the caf. to collect the coffee grounds. Cargo bikes are eye-catching as well—I love promoting #compostnotlandfill and sustainable transport.

Photo by Andrew Doube
Photo by Andrew Doube

AROMA ROAMA (TAS)

Winter might not be everyone’s ideal time to cycle in Tassie, but Andrew Doube was happy to brave the cold when he started Aroma Roama in June. What makes that a brave choice is that Andrew’s business relies on pedal power. His mobile coffee cart regularly serves up hot beverages to the crowd at the All Saints Market in South Hobart and his e-bike has set up shop in courtyards, parks and gardens, on the beach and in an amphitheatre.

What is your business?

Aroma Roama is a mobile micro-cafe towed behind an e-bike. We sell organic chai, espresso coffee and hot chocolate at markets, festivals, weddings, parties, corporate events, you name it! We are a slow food business—espresso coffee is hand ground and manually pressed on the spot. We support our local economy wherever we can. Our beans are roasted locally and the organic milk we use is produced locally.

Who are your customers?

People who like quality bespoke hot drinks.

What type of bike do you use for your business?

The cart is pulled by a sprint, with an extra large battery to extend its range.

Why is your business pedal powered?

Aroma Roama is pedal powered because it can be. Why not? It’s fun to ride and to do something different and new, to explore other ways of being in the world and other business models, to have a go at taking another step towards a more earth-friendly society, and it feels free and light. While some of the energy used in moving the bike, and much of the energy used in the chain of production that provide the product we sell still comes from fossil fuel, reducing the weight of the vehicle significantly reduces the energy required to move it. The less energy we can use unnecessarily, the less we are dependent on fossil fuel, and the less carbon emissions we produce. It’s also a small step away from the car dominated cities many of us inhabit. So much of what is done currently with heavy cars and vans could be done with lighter, smaller, more efficient vehicles, making cities cleaner and nicer places to inhabit.

What challenges do you face as a pedal powered business?

Being pedal powered increases my personal risk on the roads significantly. I am very exposed and vulnerable to larger, heavier, more powerful vehicles. This is due to the bike’s slower speed, lack of encasement and the trailer reducing maneuverability. Car and truck drivers often have little awareness of my vulnerability and effectively take risks with my life in the way they drive their vehicles. Being pedal powered also reduces the amount of stuff we can carry to work. We have to be very efficient and organised, and carefully consider size and weight in all our decisions. Lastly, it takes more time in travel and reduces the range the business can operate within.

What’s your favourite part of being a business on wheels?

The sense of relief I experience knowing I am taking a step (even if it’s a small one) towards a more earth-friendly society.

www.facebook.com/AromaRoama/

Photo by Brooke O’Brien
Photo by Brooke O’Brien

THE SMOOTHIE CYCLE (QLD)

A family run business based in Brisbane, The Smoothie Cycle have been whipping up and helping people make their own pedal powered drinks for almost ten years. The process is simple—customers jump on The Smoothie Cycle bikes to mix up their smoothie and then take a well-earned drink. Brooke O’Brien explains that their upcycled bicycles are so crucial to the business that they too feel part of the family.

What is your business?

We pedal the finest organic smoothies. We use local organic produce to make nutritious smoothies on our upcycled blender bikes and we have heaps of fun along the way. As well as providing delicious smoothies, our blender bikes also grab people’s attention and provoke conversations about sustainability and health.

Who are your customers?

We mostly get hired out at events and functions with the occasional local market or festival thrown in. Our customers are varied depending on the gig. We’ve worked with universities, councils, companies and community groups, to name a few.

What type of bikes do you use for your business?

All of our blender bikes have been upcycled so each one is unique and lovingly built in the back shed. We have both adult and kid-size bikes so everyone can have a go. We always pick bikes with a bit of character about them and they get a lot of love because of that. They’re more like family members than appliances.

Why is your business pedal powered?

It’s more fun that way! I hope to inspire people to think outside the box and to show by example the different ways you can reduce your environmental footprint while having fun. Also, with pedal power we can mix up a smoothie anywhere. There have been a few events where the site has lost power yet we can keep bringing the deliciousness with our own muscles.

What challenges do you face as a pedal powered business?

The biggest challenge we face is keeping the blender bikes in shape. When they break down we can’t buy a solution off the shelf. I’m very grateful to have friends and family who help out with their upkeep and who come up with new and inventive ways to solve a problem or create a new blender bike. Being a small family business, we rely heavily on our amazing network of family and friends. I’m very grateful for this support and we wouldn’t exist without it.

What’s your favourite part of being a business on wheels?

I love it when kids come along and take a look at the blender bikes. They get excited because they can understand how it all works and you can see great things going on inside their minds. I also love how pedaling a smoothie gives you the space and time to get to know your customer and have a little chat. I love people and I’ve met so many awesome folks whilst pedaling. But most of all I really love witnessing the pure joy people experience from pedaling themselves a smoothie. When someone hops on the bike and just starts giggling, it’s a beautiful thing.

www.thesmoothiecycle.com

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