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Cargo bikes – got cargo?Written by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

If you've kept an eye on the federal government's "Cash for Clunkers" program (which will end on Monday), you know that it's been a huge success on a number of fronts: hundreds of thousands of people have traded in older, less fuel-efficient vehicles for new models with better gas mileage, and some auto manufacturers are even rehiring. Of course, the program's had its downsides, also: dealers have complained about slow reimbursements, and some environmentalists have worried that the fuel economy requirements weren't quite stringent enough.

Portland, Oregon-based businessman Joe Doebele has another complaint about the program: there's nothing in it to get commuters to shift from four wheels to two. Rather than just throw stones, though, Doeble decided to do something about this shortcoming: he's started his own "cash for clunkers" program at his cargo bike shop Joe Bike.

OK, yes — Doebele has a personal financial stake in getting more people on bikes. But he's also right about some of the shortcomings of Cash for Clunkers. He told the Oregonian's Hard Drive blog:

I realized that if people are driving a clunker, they probably don't have too much cash to spend on a new car and we're asking them to go deeper into debt to drive more… My Cash for Clunkers program is partly out of a sense of humor and partly out of economical activism."

Trade Your Car — or Your Bike — for a New Bike

The Joe Bike Cash for Clunkers program has two options: your "clunker" can be either a car or a bike.

  • For cars: Donate it to the American Lung Association. Bring in the receipt for the donation, and Joe Bike will give you 10% off a new bike, and a discounted-for-life membership in Zipcar.
  • For bikes: Bring in your repairable bike, and get $50-$100 off a new one. The old bike will be donated to the Community Cycling Center.

While the Joe Bike program probably won't get quite as many clunkers off of the road as the federal initiative, it's a fantastic means of promoting bicycling as not only a greener means of transportation, but also a much more economical one.

Know of other alternative "cash for clunkers" efforts? Share them…!

External link for original news item  
Related reading:
  Portland Lands Major Upgrade to Electric Vehicle... (Aug-6-2009)
  Corporate Couple Become Permaculture Activists (Apr-26-2009)

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