British Columbia

2-wheelin' with a tree: Cyclists put spin on Christmas tradition

A Vancouver architectural designer is crowdsourcing images from around the world of cyclists who use their bikes to cart home their Christmas tree.

A Vancouver man is collecting photos from around the world of cyclists carting home their Christmas trees

Chris Bruntlett's family carts home its Christmas tree each year on a bike. Seen here are his partner, Melissa, and his two kids. (Chris Bruntlett/Supplied)

Cyclists, take note: you don't need a car or a sleigh to lug your Christmas tree home. 

Chris Bruntlett has the photos to prove it.

For five years, the Vancouver marketing guru has been crowdsourcing images from around the world of cyclists who use their two-wheelers to cart home their freshly cut firs.

No struggle to stuff that eight-footer into your sedan. No pine needles sprinkled over the chairs. No fear of the timber tumbling off the roof rack.

Instead, all it takes is a bungee cord, a utility rack and the chutzpah to pedal through the streets with your fresh conifer. Bruntlett, 38, calls the tradition #TreeByBike, and cyclists have jumped on board.

"The amount of creativity and ingenuity, and the types of bikes, trailers and tools that people implement, are really inspiring," Bruntlett said. "It's a lot of fun to watch."

The wheels for the idea went into motion five years ago.

Bruntlett, who runs a marketing firm focused on cycling, came across an ad for a payday loan company showing a man hauling a Christmas tree on his bike, looking miserable. 

"The whole message of the ad was, 'We'll loan you money to buy a car, so that you can do the things you need to do, like the rest of civilized society, inferring that only poor people ... are the ones carrying stuff on their bikes," he said.

"We just wanted to show that not only do people do this kind of stuff with their bicycles, but it's quite a desirable and enjoyable activity if you just show a little bit of creativity."

Bruntlett and his partner, Melissa, had just bought a cargo bike, which is designed to carry a load. They brought their tree home by bike for the first time that year and shared a photo online. The immediate response inspired them to collect more photos.

Capturing a tradition

The shots prominently feature the Dutch, pictured cycling effortlessly through their bike-friendly streets. Other hot spots include Germany, Belgium, France and the United States.

Some locales are unexpected.

"We've gotten photos from remote places like Kazakhstan, which is really mind blowing," Bruntlett said.

It's a yearly tradition now for Bruntlett's family, which include his two kids, aged nine and 12. They bike several hundred metres from their home on Commercial Drive to the plant shop, Figaro's Garden, which offers a 10 per cent discount to anyone who picks up their tree by bike.

Chris Bruntlett says bike riding home with a Christmas tree has turned into a family tradition, which his kids wouldn't have any other way. (Chris Bruntlett/Supplied)

The photos have also spawned a community of urban cyclists who share stories about their cities, Bruntlett said. 

"A lot of the time, the conversation is quite serious, in terms of getting stuff built and dealing with the daily challenges of using ... a second-class mode of transportation," he said.

"This is one way to set all of those grievances aside and just have some fun."


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