Zero Impact Environmental Alternatives

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Recycling with a bicycle trailer

For the last few years I have been trying to build a bicycle trailer out of free junk that other people were giving away (see http://www.geocities.com/distancedude/trailer). It didn't work out too well so I started watching the Craigslist free listings for a bike trailer, and I found one: a Little Tikes kid-transport trailer with a good frame and components but the fabric was ripped and fading and the zippers were broken.

It was time to take the soda cans at my house to the recycling so I decided to use the trailer. With broken zippers and no front wall, anything placed in the trailer is bound to fall out. I ended up using the seat belts to secure my serveral bags of cans, and I put a seat belt through a roll of duct tape, just incase. With my old trailer, I would have needed that duct tape (and probably some new wood and tools) within the first few blocks. The Little tykes trailer handled great. The only times I even noticed its presence were when I pulled up onto the sidewalk to push the pedestrian crossing button, and when I got up to high speeds (increased air resistance).

With a trailer you have to avoid backing up, which is tricky because without proper technique you will make the trailer jacknife (swing out beside you instead of behind you). I find that it works best to swivel left and right as I back up.

Unlike my home-built trailer, which has 27-inch wheels, the Little Tikes trailer has wheels less than 12", so the center of gravity is very low. I was able to take right turns and driveway entrances at about 12mph with no problems. I'm sure I could take corners even harder, I just don't want to take it too far and let the trailer flip or go skidding- this would be a very dangerous situation if there were cars on the road. At high speeds the trailer acts as a parachute, making even a simple errand a great workout.

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