Bicycle Land Services

It’s been quite some time since we wrote about cycling services here at Utility Cycling.org. When we set out to define utility cycling, we came up with three subcategories related to the topic of cycling services, including retail and commercial services, emergency and patrol services, and land services. We did a four-part series in late 2009 dedicated entirely to emergency and patrol services by bicycle, which included posts on police bikes, EMS bikes, fire service bicycles, and search and rescue bike services. In the realm of retail and commercial services, we have spent some time talking about mobile bike business. We also did a post on bicycle mapping, which we felt was a sort of land service. I was actually going to write a post about a type of bicycle land service today before I realized that we haven’t really spent any time talking about what we mean by “land service” by bicycle. So this post is dedicated to explaining the idea of bicycle land services, and we will spend some time in later posts talking about the different kinds of bicycle land services.

Cycling Service

I recently wrote a post about cycling as statement, where I explored the definition of utility, and hence, utility cycling. Basically, what it boils down to is accomplishing a goal or service by bicycle that has some sort of meaningful impact or purpose (and is not sport or recreational in nature). This definition provides for a lot of wiggle room and possibilities, so part of the challenge has been to list all of the different possible activities that could be considered utility cycling. Providing services by bicycle are certainly one major category, but since the idea of service is so vast, the challenge was to figure out all of the different types. When we refer to cycling services, we are thinking of activities that are done by bicycle, which provide people with some thing from food to policing to rescue to trash pick-up to mapping and much more. The main types of service that we have identified thus far are:

  • Retail and Commercial Service
  • Emergency and Patrol Service
  • Land Service

As always, if we have missed something, please do let us know!

Bicycle Land Service

As far as land service is concerned, it is a somewhat vague category, to be perfectly honest. If you do a Google search for the term land service, you get everything from real estate agencies, to engineering firms, to development companies, to insurance agencies. Ok, so what is land? The good old Wikipedia tells us that land is the terrestrial part of the Earth that is not covered by water. It also refers to property, countries, regions, places, landforms, etc. Land service appears to be a catchall term for anything to do with land and a variety of services. So if we take our idea of cycling service and tack it on to the big-bad word “land”, you get something that is a service accomplished by bicycle that has something to do – pretty directly – with land (and all its definitions).

google-streetview-trike-001Image Credit: Google

Types of Bicycle Land Service

Thus far, we have identified the following types of bicycle land services, which all have something to do with land in some capacity or another and are definitely accomplished via bicycle.

  • Trailwork: Trail users such as mountain bikers are often proponents of trail work (which includes both building and maintenance), and the bicycle is often used to transport tools and equipment to different sections of trail where work is being done.
  • Bike Patrol: Bike patrol groups assist in a variety of activities from emergency response to teaching trail users about etiquette to trail work.
  • Mapping: There are numerous mapping opportunities that can be done via bicycle. Perhaps the most notable is the current Google Maps effort to add a Bike There feature, and much of the mapping and route finding is being done via bicycle.
  • Land Survey: The bicycle is a useful vehicle in urban environments for land survey in addition to the mapping mentioned above. One major example as of late, which is tied pretty directly to bicycle mapping, is Google’s new Street View mapping trike.
  • Research/ Testing Equipment: The bicycle can also be used to transport research equipment for various purposes (such asacademic research beingconducted byfinancially limited graduate students)to remote places, or it could be used in urban environments for other sorts of testing. One example of this might be a bike count study in which the counter rides to his or her location by bicycle carrying his or her research equipment (in this case, a spreadsheet, perhaps).

bike-patrol-assist-imbaImage Credit: IMBA

Some of the bicycle land services that we have identified are very closely related to recreational cycling. Specifically, I am thinking of trailwork and bike patrol, which are activities done to improve or support the recreational riding experience, in many cases. Nonetheless, someone who volunteers to do trailwork or bike patrol is indeed a sort of utility cyclist, as they are accomplishing specific goals while riding their bikes, even if it is in support of recreational riding. And truth be told, many people may be hybrids – not just utility cyclists or sport or recreational cyclists, but a mixture of types.

As always, please let us know what we have missed in these categories. We look forward to hearing from you.


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