Gabor Lukacs of Amherst, MA believes we can go beyond sustainability to a place of “resilience.” Part of Lukacs’s response to the effects of global problems relating to the use of petroleum is to only use bicycles for transportation. “I want to live my life without using cars,” said Lukacs.
However, you can only carry so much on a bicycle – or can you? Lukacs started to build a variety of bike trailers to meet his needs. He also realized he could use (primarily) bamboo and nylon string to build a bike trailer for about $15. Lukacs initially purchased and used metal bike trailers (around $500 for larger or more elaborate trailers) as design models, as well as for normal use. He experimented with building a series of bike trailers made of differing materials and learned to weld along the way. However, bamboo as the primary structural material started to make the most sense. “I grow bamboo and I thought ‘Well I can do this,’” said Lukacs. (Although Lukacs grows bamboo, and it works for him, we need to warn you that there are compelling reasons not to grow bamboo in your yard.)
Lukacs found such success with his bamboo bike trailers that he began teaching local workshops on how to construct your own. “I had ten students sign up and twelve actually showed up,” he said.
Bamboo and harvesting
“Bamboo is actually stronger than steel. One of its primary constituents is silica, which is basically glass which is harder than steel,” said Lukacs. Bamboo is tough and requires either a strong lopper tool or a metal saw to cut. Once you have your stripped (of leaves) bamboo, you can begin to design your bike trailer and cut appropriate-sized lengths. Some parts of the trailer are more easily put together with bolts. Pre-drilling is a good idea due to the nature of bamboo to be both tough and prone to splitting.
Designing your bamboo bike trailer
The design of your bamboo bike trailer will depend on what you want to carry and use it for. For example, Lukacs has several, one for groceries, one for carrying larger items such a lumber, and a very long trailer for carting his canoe. The design is essentially a square or rectangular structure that is cross-hatched, has two wheel wells, and has an arm with a latching mechanism for your bike. It is a simple structure and can primarily be held together with nylon or other non-shredding string. When tying off all the parts, you have to be sure to make the tie-off extremely tightly. The string is wrapped three to four times for each tie-off and knotted three times. Lukacs also suggested a drop of glue on all your knots for extra hold.