Searching for freedom and connection in a gas-powered, digital and divided world. 

MOTHERLOAD is a crowdsourced documentary about a new mother’s quest to understand the increasing isolation and disconnection of the digital age, its planetary impact, and how cargo bikes could be an antidote.

Filmmaker Liz Canning cycled everywhere until she had twins in 2008. Hauling babies via car was not only unsustainable but took the freedom and adventure out of life, and Liz felt trapped. She Googled “family bike” and uncovered a global movement of people replacing cars with cargo bikes: long-frame bicycles designed for carrying passengers and heavy loads. Liz set out to learn more, and MOTHERLOAD was born.


Following a raucous standing ovation for a MOTHERLOAD preview at the League of American Bicyclists’ National Summit, the film made its official world premiere May 4th 2019! Find our evolving SCREENING SCHEDULE HERE. The MOTHERLOAD Community Screening Tour is in FULL SWING—join the movement and purchase a community screening package here!

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Read the first published review of MOTHERLOAD in Bike Portland HERE!

MOTHERLOAD took me quite by surprise… I truly had tears in my eyes throughout — tears of happiness, anger, frustration, love, and pure joy! — Joni Cooper, Director of Programming, DOCLANDS Film Festival

Like you, the bike changed my life, causing me to work within the system to support human scale places. Lately, I’ve become jaded and lost the fire. Your film helped me remember and made me excited… Thank you for that amazing gift. — Ken Rose, Senior Policy Advisor, CDC Physical Activity & Health Program

It's amazing and will help save the world (not hyperbole)… The film is a true personal journey and an important call to action. — Brent Patterson, Professor of Digital Media

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In the joy and dedication of the cargo bike community Liz saw that the choice to live by bike, instead of by car, has powerful positive repercussions. MOTHERLOAD asks why this is so and what this says about mainstream culture.


In the joy and dedication of the cargo bike community Liz saw that the choice to live by bike, instead of by car, has powerful positive repercussions. These people make sustainability looking really fun! MOTHERLOAD asks why this is so and what it can teach us about mainstream culture.


Through her research Liz learns how the bicycle transformed society faster and more effectively than any other invention, facilitating women’s fight for the vote and giving the poor mobility for the first time in history. In 1896 Maria Ward wrote in Bicycling for Ladies:

“Riding the wheel, our own powers are revealed to us, a new sense is seemingly created… You have conquered a new world, and exultingly, you take possession of it.”

This all makes sense when Liz finds that humans are genetically hardwired to crave outdoor sensory experiences like riding a bicycle.

We feel this most urgently today, as our hunter-gatherer instincts are drowned out by the clamor of the digital age, and Americans spend 95% of our time indoors.

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People you will meet in MOTHERLOAD


Ross Evans developed the longtail cargo bike at age 19, as part of a 1995 Bikes Not Bombs economic development project in war-torn Nicaragua. Upon returning to the US, Ross founded Xtracycle, but the company floundered at first trying to promote an idea that was a decade or two ahead of its time, and that went against the grain of mainstream culture’s addiction to convenience.

Emily Finch becomes a minor celebrity when she starts transporting her six children by cargo bike. Emily’s moment in the media spotlight helps spread awareness about the utility of these bicycles, but also elicits backlash from some people who find this lifestyle extreme, risky, and even selfish.

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Brent Patterson and Stacy Bisker were struggling to manage student loan debt and mounting medical bills for their son. To help save money, they traded a car for a cargo bike, which led Stacy to discover joy in simple tasks like going to the grocery store. “The mundane became extraordinary, and I needed that in my life,” she says. After they move to Buffalo, NY, they decide to go completely car-free: we see Brent commuting to work in a snowstorm.

Josef Bray-Ali, owner of Flying Pigeon Cycles in Los Angeles, shows us the cargo bike culture in his racially and socioeconomically diverse neighborhood. Josef says that, though he makes a “below-poverty wage” as a bike shop owner, his cargo bike allows him a very high quality of life. This experience, he explains, “is a big, important, human animal thing to have.”


Ole Kassow, from Copenhagen, started Cycling Without Age, an international program facilitating the use of cargo trikes to take senior citizens out of nursing homes and into their communities. Ole tells Liz, “People say taking risks is irresponsible. I think it’s irresponsible not to take any risks.”