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ily handle up to three of them, or two adults if you want to punish yourself. Recently, I have put it to work as an ambulance—at a Philadelphia Critical Mass ride, I hauled a cyclist four miles home after he dumped it at a train crossing.

“Now that is some slick shit.”

I thank you, elderly gentleman, for your compliment. I also feel that it is pretty slick.

“Why are you tearing that down?”

I was standing on the bed of the bike, using it as a ladder so I could reach a “Cash For Your House” sign to remove it. I wound up in a friendly conversation with two young bejeweled dudes in a luxury SUV, stopped in the middle of the road. We discussed the ins and outs of gentrification, and the exploitation of poor people who don’t know what their houses are worth. As they drove away and complimented my bike, I realized that I had just experienced my first positive interaction with an SUV driver since

I started riding bikes.

“That thing must be hard to ride.”

Not really. There is definitely a learning curve though. Having a tiny front wheel 4’ in front of your handlebars takes some getting used to, but anybody can operate one of these. They aren’t that heavy (similar to an old cruiser), and handle quite well once you get really comfortable with the size and turning radius of the bike. Any moderately experienced rider can learn to ride an empty one in about five minutes. Heavy/oversized loads take more time. I’m still learning as far as that goes, but I haven’t wrecked yet!

“What do you carry in that?”

Just about anything. I myself have variously carried: six cases of coffee mugs, eight Christmas trees, and 200 pounds of firewood, but usually I am seen hauling 130 pounds o’hound around the neighborhood, bringing smiles to all kinds of faces along the way.

I have heard too many comments to even try to remember them all, but my favorite was uttered by a shocked motorist after I swerved around his just-opened door. He put one foot in the street, turned to stand up and saw two panting pit-bulls whirring by within inches of his face while sitting on a bicycle:


Leonard Bonarek is the director of The Tender Bridge Philadelphia ( and a volunteer supervisor for CASA of Philadelphia ( when he’s not biking his dogs to the park.

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