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General Bicycle Transportation

by Melanie Colavito is nearly one year old. Our first post in June of 2009 was dedicated to defining utility cycling and identifying all of the categories and subcategories within it. At that time, one of our main goals for the site, was to serve as a reference for other utility cyclists, so we have slowly been chugging away at writing about all of the categories we discussed in the first post. At the half year mark, in our Year in Review, we had written dedicated posts to approximately half of the categories and subcategories. Now, four months later, we are still only about half way to finishing the task. And no, it’s not due to sloth, we just keep identifying more and more categories and subcategories of utility cycling. Fortunately, its a very rich topic area!


One of main categories of utility cycling that we identified in the first post was one of the more obvious ones: transportation. However, at the time, the only two subcategories of transportation that we listed were bicycle commuting and bike sharing systems. We have also written about bicycle infrastructure, but thus far, we have only skimmed the surface of that topic, as well. And as you all know, the category of transportation is quite rich, indeed!

So lately, we have started to think about all of the opportunities to talk about transportation within the context of utility cycling. Some of the additional categories that we are going to write about include family bicycle transportation, which involves bicycling with kids, teaching kids to ride, riding to school, and more.


Another category we identified, and the one we are going to introduce today, is general bicycle transportation. As always, if you have any suggestions for additional categories, subcategories, posts, etc., we would love to hear from you.

General Bicycle Transportation

General bicycle transportation is conceptualized somewhat differently from bicycle commuting. The definition of commuting is impossible to separate from work. Commuting is the act traveling between work and home, and therefore, bicycle commuting is the act of traveling between work and home by bike. However, there are many, many more reasons to travel by bike, so bicycle commuting is only one small slice of the larger bicycle transportation pie.


General bicycle transportation includes a wide range of activities that involve getting around by bicycle. And what’s great about general bicycle transportation is that it often involves having fun on the bike, while simultaneously getting things accomplished, which is one of the key elements of utility cycling as we have conceptualized it. Below, I have listed some of the subcategories of general bicycle transportation that come to mind, but if you think of others, please let us know.

  • Getting Around by Bicycle – This encompasses riding a bicycle to a night out on the town; riding a bicycle to meet (or with) a hot date; riding a bicycle to the movies, restaurants, friends’ houses, etc. It is my personal opinion that “getting around” by bicycle to go meet up with friends and family is one of the best times to be had on a bike.
  • kyle-with-cooler-xtracycleRunning Errands by Bike – Running errands by bicycle is another subcategory of general bicycle transportation. Although running errands might be done as part of a bicycle commute, they can also be done independent of a commute, and therefore, have their own subcategory. Running errands by bicycle often involves the use of bicycle trailers or an Xtracycle in order to haul more items such a groceries, sundries, or even a sidewalk.
  • Utility Cycling While Traveling – Just because you are traveling doesn’t mean you can’t be a utility cyclist. Although, I must admit, it might be more difficult. If you are traveling somewhere for work or fun and you would like to be able to use a bicycle when you reach your destination, it’s a good idea to check out local bike shops for rentals or find out if the city you are going to has a bike sharing system.
  • Long Distance Utility Cycling – Although long distance travel by bike is often categorized under the bike touring and/or recreation label, there are many instances where long distance travel by bike fits into utility cycling, as well. For example, the good folks at the Path Less Pedaled have been living by bike for the last few months. Another great example of long distance travel by bike in the utility cycling context is the New England Climate Summer program. Traveling long distances by bicycle, is definitely something that requires an aspect of leisure, however the utility of getting from point A to point B still exists. I’ve heard quite a few stories of people traveling to college or moving from one city to the next and getting their with a bicycle loaded up with bike panniers and bike racks.

So as you can see, general bicycle transportation is oftentimes closely connected to having a good time on the bike…while getting things done.

BOB Trailer x 2

8 Responses to “General Bicycle Transportation”

  1. […] Utility Cycling blog, which is a year old today. Happy Birthday and well […]

  2. James says:

    Congrats on hitting the one year mark. Looking forward to many more years of great content.

  3. […] Utility Cycling blog, which is a year old today. Happy Birthday and well […]

    • Josh says:

      We really appreciate all of the Birthday wishes, except we’re not quite there yet. While “ is nearly one year old”, we’ve got another month to go. That being said, we might as well party it up for the next month with all the good wishes. Thanks!

  4. April, June — what’s the diff 🙂 Anyway, well done!

  5. […] you. Because of its ease of use, it solves one of the principle objections we hear to using your bicycle for daily utility trips: how to carry things and/or lock them up. Since you can take the new Burley inside with you, […]

  6. […] A particularly interesting emphasis of Melanie’s has been bike mapping. Melanie is currently earning her PHD in geology with a focus on GIS. Her expertise in mapping has lead to some excellent posts on Google’s new Bike There feature as well as other examinations of the intersections between mapping technologies and cycling. Here are a few examples of Melanie’s best work: Analysis of Google’s Bike-There Feature: Part I, Part II and Part III Thoughts on Re-Imaging the Bicycle General Bicycle Transportation […]

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