A new bicycle-powered cargo service started whizzing around the Hill, Tuesday, April 1, as Dan Kohler launched his new business, Freewheel, with a focus on sustainable delivery, and the budding entrepreneur already has some local businesses on board. After his first day of work last week, Kohler spoke with CHS about Freewheel’s plans for eco-delivery conquest, and why he chose Capitol Hill for his business headquarters.
Freewheel was started by Kohler, and his friends Thomas Bates and Zach Silk, with the mission of providing a carbon free delivery option for businesses within a 4-5 mile radius of Capitol Hill and downtown. This zone is flexible will adjust as demand emerges, Kohler said. The decision to set up shop at 10th and Union was partially inspired by the new Broadway bikeway that will help the budding company traverse the Hill.
“That’s just terrific for getting up and down that business corridor. More improvements like that would be very welcome,” Kohler said. The growing number of Capitol Hill and downtown businesses also drew Kohler to the neighborhood, and he’s currently working on optimal delivery routes to better serve them.
“Using a cargo bike is actually pretty practical and efficient given that there is a lot of traffic in that area and hard to find parking,” he said. Kohler is the only delivery rider, but he has already created a busy schedule with deliveries for Molly’s and plans to ferry goods for Middlefork Roasters Coffee (based in South Park) as well as the sweet treats from High Five Pies. His current route through the Hill has Kohler dropping off products for Bauhaus, Central Co-op, Coffee Tree, Fuel Coffee, Stockbox and Top Pot Doughnuts. Pulling these deliveries is a neat looking electro bicycle that turned a lot of heads during its Capitol Hill debut.
The cargo bicycle can pull 400 pounds worth of goods in a very noticeable blue box, and to account for steep treks up the Hill, Kohler had an electric assist motor built in. “You can use the throttle to get up hills,” he said. “It’s still hard work but it works really well.” A local design company helped him craft the bicycle transport, and Kohler will look to add more to his fleet of one if things take off.
The blue box cargo hold is also being used for advertising. At this point Kohler is working with the companies he delivers for. “We hope that it is eye catching [the bicycle] and they [businesses/people] get excited about what we’re doing,” he said. The ideas behind the sustainable business came from a love for bicycles and the environment that Kohler hopes to promote through his service.
“This combines two of my passions. The first being: I’m an environmentalist. I’ve spent the last fifteen years working in the non-profit sector doing environmental advocacy… in addition, biking.” The birth of his daughter four months ago also gave him a kick of encouragement in committing to the new job.
“I just had a pretty powerful experience with having my first child… becoming a new father, I think, serves as a little extra motivation to do something concrete that is solution-oriented for the issues that I’m passionate about,” Kohler said. He would like to see this passion translate through Freewheel’s unique design in offering a visible example of sustainable culture for locals to draw inspiration from.
“We hope what we can do is be an example of sustainability that’s really concrete and clear and put it right on the road.” The value derived by businesses using Freewheel isn’t only in having a nifty delivery man but more importantly in showing their customers they value renewable-business practices, said Kohler. “Instead of using diesel trucks or vans, we can do it pollution-free.”
Here’s another bicycle-focused burst of entrepreneurial energy around the neighborhood. From the CHS Community Post section:
Two years ago I moved to Seattle from the glorified ski town of Bend, Oregon, where a clean flannel is considered formal attire. As a dedicated cyclist in a new urban environment I found myself constantly wondering “What do I do when I get there?” At the time I was aware of only two options: proudly don a skintight “performance garment” and get used to being called Lance, or sweat through my cotton street clothes and hope they were dry before anyone saw me. I didn’t like either option, so I got to work.
Today, I have just launched a Kickstarter campaign at http://kck.st/QC139o that revolves around a simple concept. Stylish Merino Wool clothes, made in America and NO middle men causing huge mark-ups.