It won’t be hard to find a bicycle in Washington on Friday, when more than 13,000 folks are expected to participate in Bike to Work Day. But probably only one of those bikes will be hauling a load of gourmet ice-cream sandwiches in such flavors as white chocolate Nutella and corn maple, which is why I suggest you pedal as fast as you can toward CreamCycle.
Being a bike peddler is an old-fashioned idea: More than 100 years ago, New York’s Worksman Cycles promoted its vehicles as a salesman’s alternative to the horse and wagon.
The idea’s still a good one, says CreamCycle (Creamcycledc.com) co-founder Jeff Jetton, who fondly remembers the bicycling ice-cream vendors who rode along the beach during his ’70s California childhood. That’s why he partnered with chef Carlos Delgado and former pedicab company owner Nick Smith to create D.C.’s newest mobile food business.
While Delgado has been perfecting his recipes, it’s been up to Smith to refurbish a bunch of used tricycles that Jetton collected and describes as “rusty piles of junk that hadn’t been ridden in years.” So far, only one has been called into duty — and just for one day — but already, Smith admits there are some drawbacks to the plan.
“The bikes are heavy, the coolers are heavy, and dry ice is heavy too,” Smith says. “And the bikes are single speed, so you’ve got to grunt it out on hills — or walk it.” With the company’s chosen name, however, “We’ve got to have the bikes. We can’t get out of that one,” he jokes.
As someone who pedaled groups of tourists around with a pedicab for five years, however, Smith maintains that the CreamCycle bikes offer a cushier gig: The idea is to stay in one place for a few hours at a time, rather than constantly riding around the city. (In his pedicab days, Smith used to drive to work because he couldn’t stand to ride any more than he did on the job.)
And in comparison to the bulky food trucks that have taken over D.C.’s streets, bikes have definite advantages. They can squeeze into tight spaces on bike trails, hang out in parks and even conceivably be allowed on the Metro. “We’re going to try,” says Smith, although he’s not sure security will be cool with the large containers.
At least for now, there are no plans to bring the bikes out every day, adds Jetton, who says it’ll all depend on the weather. Sunny skies go well with both bikes and $5 icy treats — and so do about 13,000 people who are hot, hungry and looking to take a break.
Wheel Deals: Bike-based businesses have been booming in other cities, particularly Portland, Ore., which even boasts a rolling flower shop (Petalsonpedals.com). So expect to see more popping up in Washington. Next up: June 3 marks the official launch for Urban Delivery (Facebook.com/UrbanDeliv), an app that summons bike messengers to run errands for you. During the current “test phrase,” all orders are $3 off.
The amount of Washingtonians who commute by bicycle, according to the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board. That represents a substantial jump from 2007, when cyclists accounted for just 1.4 percent of D.C.’s commuters.