In this series we stop people along the bike lanes in Vancouver and have chats with them about their thoughts on cycling, their bikes, and more. Have a look at the archive HERE.
How long have you been fixing appliances by bike?
I’ve been in the appliance repair industry for 7 years but I didn’t build this bike until last summer. I’ve had my own business for about 2 years and was using a small pickup truck and/or a van to get around before. I saw these cargo bikes when I went to Amsterdam a few years ago and wondered if I could build something like that for my work. I managed to put it together in a total of 2 months and since then I have been riding on it non-stop. Riding my bike to service calls really lets me capitalize on the downtown market as I don’t have to worry about parking. I can just pull up to the front steps of a condo and have my tools all ready to go. Luckily it’s been the mildest winter that I can recall in Vancouver, but I always remember to bring my rain gear with me.
Vancouver is your hometown then?
Yes, I was born and raised here. My parents are from Poland and immigrated here in the late 80’s. I was born shortly after they arrived.
Did you always have your heart set on appliance repairs?
I actually just got into it right out of high school to be honest. I was eager to get into the work force and got an opportunity to work at Sears. I was always taking things apart at home even though I didn’t figure out how to put them back together until a few more years down the road. My Dad, who was also very mechanically inclined, always told me that I shouldn’t take stuff apart and not fiddle with this kind of stuff and go to school instead. But I couldn’t help it as it was always something that I enjoyed doing. I’m even thinking that I might get into building these cargo bikes as there seems to be a lot of people that are keen on getting a bike of their own. Maybe that’s where all of this has taken me. Appliance repair is a way to pay the bills, but I’d like to get into something more exciting down the road.
When you say appliances, what is the range of appliances that you’re able to fix?
Basically all your major home appliances from washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers. Something like a coffee maker or toaster oven, I probably could fix but sometimes its not economical to fix them.
Do you ever pull any appliances with your bike or is it more for storing smaller items inside the metal box?
It’s mostly inside the box but I actually drew up some plans for a trailer. It would be great to have a lower platform that I could load up some larger bulkier items on because right now if I wanted to load a dishwasher on here I would have to heave it on top of the box. A lot of Long John bikes don’t have the box but have a bin instead. My box is pretty much built in as I have all the electronics for the bike in there as well as my tools.
How many services do you have a day?
It depends. On a busy day I could have about 5-6 jobs which is about 50-60 kms of biking. Sometimes I even go out to the North Shore or Richmond for the odd job. Kind of a full day. Today I have 3-4 jobs and that’s the way I like it. Not too busy, but just enough hustling around.
What is the furthest you have gone on your bike?
A couple of nights ago I rode over to Horseshoe Bay from Commercial Drive and back, but that wasn’t a service call. It took me about 45 minutes to get out there. I took the Lions Gate Bridge and once I was on Marine Drive I was just cruising.
Did you bike a lot before you started incorporating it into your career?
I did cycle a lot, and have always had a bicycle. Right before the bike lanes were put in I was living in an apartment at Burrard and Drake St. Later that year they put in the lanes on all sides of that block so it just made sense to bike as my mode of transportation. I don’t really take my regular bike out that often because this is so much fun to ride.
Do you know of many other cargo bikes in the city?
I have seen a few but I haven’t seen any others that are doing appliance repairs. There is a great company called Grin Tech (ebikes.ca) who are one of the leaders in electric bikes in the city and for those wanting to know more about how to get started I would recommend checking them out.
Anything crazy happen to you while riding your cargo bike?
Luckily not. I mean, I have been hit by a car once or twice but I think that happens to most people who cycle a lot. Other than that nothing too crazy. I have had a number of passengers on my bike. My record is me and three passengers and it held together as we rode down Commercial Drive. People were obviously dumbfounded as we rode on by.
Anything else you would like to say about biking?
Give a wave if you see me riding by. If perhaps I pass by you quickly on a bicycle I hope it’s not shocking and I don’t frighten you as it’s not my intention to be aggressive but sometimes I am just in a hurry to get places. I try my best to ride cautiously.
To book a service call with Philip of Downtown Appliance Repairs, check out his website at www.downtownappliance.ca