Cafe Berlin moves using bike power

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 9:09 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Cafe Berlin co-owner Allison Starn and employee Sean Coder secure a cabinet to Coder's bike trailer in preparation for the restaurant's move to Tenth and Ash streets from the now empty building on the corner of Walnut Street and Providence Road on Monday. After a free pancake breakfast courtesy of the cafe, 30 cyclists helped with the eight-block move.

COLUMBIA — Cafe Berlin’s move to a downtown location is not a typical one; almost all of the furniture and utensils are being transported by bikes.

Thirty people gathered at 9 a.m. on Monday at Cafe Berlin's old location at the corner of Providence Road and Walnut Street to enjoy some pancakes and start hauling various items to the restaurant's new location near the intersection of Ash and Tenth streets.


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The convoy of cyclists made four trips between locations in two hours to transfer 90 percent of the materials, co-owner Allison Starn said.

“I had reservations about what the turnout of people would be, but I am thoroughly impressed about how much we got done,” she said.

Starn said she had been planning to move locations for the past six months because the cafe's lease ends at the end of September. Starn assumed that it would have taken just as long — if not longer — to move using trucks. Community members and supporters of the move said moving by bike was very efficient.

“The cool thing about it is that it’s actually quicker because you don’t have to pack and unpack, and it’s a very ideal distance,” said Frederick Schmidt, who has moved establishments using only bikes before.

Schmidt said that he had done a bike move for his accounting company, but he only had a couple of helpers. He said he was very impressed with the Cafe Berlin move because it involved so many people.

“It’s the power of numbers. Everyone was helping each other out loading and unloading their bikes,” Schmidt said.

Former Cafe Berlin employee Megan Mazzei said she was happy everyone was able to help without breaking his or her pledge to not use a car.

Many of the movers participate in PedNet's No-Car Challenge, which is going on this month. The challenge encourages people to find alternative transportation for an entire month by offering prizes. This year, there are 84 contestants, said Tim Overshiner, husband of Gina Overshiner, the coordinator of the challenge.

“The bike move makes people aware of other ways of getting things done,” Tim Overshiner said.

“It gave me goose bumps watching everyone precariously moving the stuff on their bikes,” Starn said. “But I don’t think we had any spills.”

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