British Columbia

Tradesman ditches van for custom-made bicycle

Phil Marciniak is an appliance repairman with a twist: instead of using a gas-guzzling work van, he gets to most of his jobs on a custom bicycle he built himself. So far it's getting the job done... and so is he.

Phil Marciniak built a custom bike to support his appliance repair business in Vancouver

Appliance repairman Phil Marciniak is getting his job done thanks to pedal power. He built this bike himself over the course two months this summer at a cost of about $800. (Liam Britten)

When you call for a repairman to look at your washing machine, you probably expect a big van packed with tools and parts to pull up to the driveway.

You probably don't expect your repairman to pull up in a bicycle.

But that is exactly what you’ll get — if you hire Phil Marciniak of Downtown Appliance Repair.

Tired of wasting time in traffic

Phil Marciniak loads up his bike for another day of servicing appliances. (Liam Britten)
Over the summer, Marciniak built a cargo bike, modelled after a popular style in the Netherlands. It’s about six feet long, and can carry several hundred pounds of tools and parts in a steel job box in the middle of the frame.

The bike also has an electric motor to help with hills and longer trips. It took about two months to make and the parts are worth about $800.

“The frustrations of being caught in traffic all the time was the biggest motivation,” said Marciniak, explaining why he switched from his van to a bike.   

Marciniak is happy with his new ride. He feels he’s saving lots of time by not having to deal with traffic and parking all the time, and he’s saving money by not paying for insurance and gas.

Biking is a trade-off 

However, Marciniak is in a line of work where time is money. And he might be able to do more jobs by using a van.

“That pressure’s always there. A lot of guys in the industry sort of look at me and laugh. They say, ‘You’re wasting your time with that thing,’” he said. “For me, there came a time where I was looking for more satisfaction in my work.”

He said he does use a van for jobs that are outside of Vancouver or require more parts and tools than he can haul.

However, he’s doing most jobs by bike, and is now looking for ways to improve his original design.

“I suppose at the end of the day I was willing to trade off. I’ve never had so much fun in this industry as I have riding around on this bike.”