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History & Inspiration

This photo history is the untold story of one person’s role as a catalyst in the recent renaissance of cargo bikes in the United States. In 1984 there were a handful of fabricators who understood the value of the bicycle as utility vehicle. The primary focus was on bicycle trailers (Burley) or vehicles for use in factories and airports (Worksmans). As an indication of how far into mainstream cargo bikes have become, recently Bicycling Magazine published an extensive spread on cargo bikes.

The first part of this archive will be the evolution of Jan VanderTuin’s Human Powered Machines. The real story is as much in the process as in the designs themselves; the journey is as important as the destination. This statement is often times a bit of a cliche, but in this case the evidence lies in the fact that these designs will soon be available on our website (in CAD drawing format).

In early 1992, Jan moved his shop to its current downtown Eugene location. In October of that same year the Center for Appropriate Transport opened it’s doors in the space and became a 501(c)(3) non-profit. For the next eight years Jan directed CAT and built bikes on the side as a sole proprietorship within the space. In the year 2000, Jan contracted with CAT to allow the Center to use his designs. Since that point, Human Powered Machine designs have been made by CAT/HPM. Youth involved in alternative education programs at CAT have utilized these real world fabrication spaces in their curriculum. The photos in this archive were collected from 1990-2000.

As a part of CAT’s 20th anniversary the Center is in the process of creating a timeline of it’s history. This archive will include documents, pictures, and video from CAT/Human Powered Machines from 2000-present.

Click on photos to view the story captions (control the slide show with arrows below).