5 Ways Amish Get Around (Without a Buggy or Car)
We all know Amish travel by horse-and-buggy. Most ride as passengers in cars, and pretty much all Amish will take the bus or train when need be.
But how about shorter trips? Here are 5 more ways Amish get from point A to point B:
- Bicycle. The bicycle is a standard, especially in larger Midwestern Amish communities. Amish bicycles can be pretty fancy. In places like northern Indiana, Amish ride them to work and on errands along busy roads. So comfort and safety features such as rear-view mirrors are valued. Recumbent bicycles (the kind that looks like you are leaning back in an easy chair) are sometimes seen as well.
- Scooter. Like the buggy, the Amish scooter is something of an icon. They are typically made from welded steel, with a foot brake and basket, and come in primary colors red, green, and blue (though pink frames have been spotted). There are at least a couple of scooter manufacturers in Lancaster County, including Groffdale Machine Co. Scooters are seen in some other communities, for instance, among the Swiss Amish of Allen County, Indiana.
- Two feet. Foot power never goes out of style. And the type of shoes Amish wear reflects the amount of time they spend on their feet. Some might think Amish prefer only the plainest shoes, but as in other things Amish are practical. Keds and Skechers are popular brands known for their comfort. Good’s Stores, among others, sell shoes to a Plain clientele in Lancaster County.
- Rollerblades. Donald Kraybill’s Riddle of Amish Culture features a pair of rollerblading Amish girls on the cover. It’s one of those striking images, like photos of Amish strolling on the beach or talking on a cell phone, that seems to somehow show a contradiction of Amish life. However rollerblades are considered a useful and mostly harmless form of transport in some communities. Rollerblades are more often used by youth, and are probably most popular in Lancaster County.
- Horseback. It’s true you’re more likely to see an Amish person galloping down the road on horseback than bouncing along on a pogo-stick. But not much more. I include it here because occasionally Amish do ride horseback, both with and without a saddle. I’ve seen adolescent Amish girls riding recreationally in both Holmes and Lancaster Counties, for example. People wonder why horseback riding isn’t more common. Donald Kraybill has this to say: “Although farmers will occasionally ride horseback to and from fields, horseback riding is generally discouraged because it borders on a worldly form of sport” (The Riddle of Amish Culture, p. 70).
Read more on Amish transportation.
Photo credit: Amishman on rollerblades in Adams County, IN – S.I.
SHOM,,, I have to agree. Buying produce from a roadside stand always seems to be better.
When I was in my early 20s I had one of those roadside stands. It was a small shack that sat on the edge of an apple orchard. I ran it with one of my brothers. We would buy local grown produce, eggs and other items and resell them. And of course our main product was the apples in season. Out of season we purchased from the produce market. We never tried to hide that fact from our customers but they would still come even during the middle of winter when you know nothing was local at that point.
They liked the fact that we were honest in what we sold and we sold at a fair price.
Man that was a lot of years ago!!
Have a good night SHOM, I am tired and heading off to bed.
Alice A. You did that, roadside stand work – that is awesome! At least I think it is. One of our roadside people always seems to give me extra fruit than what I bought, when in season.
On the topic of Amish transportation, I was wondering if someone, Erik or whoever, could write here in the replies a little bit about the cars the Amish and such groups choose to drive and how, apparently, they ought to be plain like their drivers.
I’ve always heard that those who chose to drive choose non-shiny vehicles. Is this a myth or what?
Morning SHOM, yes I did, many years ago. It was fun but a lot of hard work too. I was in the orchard by 5am picking apples to sell. Had the stand open by 8:30am and didn’t close until 9pm, 6 days a week. I would often give my regular customers a little extra or something new to try.
We had a truck driver from Ohio that would come through every week. He would come in on a Sunday and leave us a note as to what he wanted and he would be back through on Wednesday to pick it up. He bought a lot because he was taking it back to Ohio and selling it. Usually 20 plus bushels of apples plus a large variety of other stuff. It helped him and it helped us too.
On transportation I don’t know much. I do know this German Baptist Brethren family had once told me they were only allowed to drive either white or black vehicles. Nothing sporty, they had to be practical. I’m not sure but I think they said there was a list of vehicles they could not have like Cadilacs (sp) Continentals, Cameros, things like that. Don’t know about the non-shiny her’s had a gloss finish but not flashy or metalic.
Hey everyone,,guess what ???
If you come to Holmes County Ohio,and you go to different bicycle shops here ,you will find something you very likely have never seen before,,,
The Amish here are buying and riding bicycles priced at 5 and 6 thousand, yes FIVE AND SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS, and guess what , they have a battery on them so that they do not even have to peddle,
Of course they have to charge the battery at a neighbor’s house or shop, or if the generator is running they can do it there,,,
Now these bikes can go a maximum speed of 17 miles an hour, and you do not need to have a license because it is under 25 mph.
Got a question,,wouldn’t it be wiser stewardship using that kind of money buying a car so the whole family can go along,or and more economical , too,
do not get me wrong, if you want to spend that money an a bike , I guess that’s okay,,,but thought I have to let you know that there is a NEW KIND OF AMISH TRANSPORTATION
When I was setting up a factory in china I purchased a bicycle with an electric motor and battery. It worked great to run into Shunyi and do laundry or shopping. This was very coming. Evan mother’s with small children or evan several children was the age norm.
Yes, a person CAN buy bikes at 5 or 6 thousand dollars, but it takes a serious biker to buy those and according to our local bike shop, many of those are bought by the non-Amish biker. We bought bikes for each of our children and I replace the bike I use to go to & from work about every five years or so and none of the bikes we’ve bought go over the $500-700 range and that is the total with all the accessories (mirrors, rechargeable head & tail lights, bike bags or carriers, fenders, and speedometer/clock/odometer combination). The only Amish guy I know personally who bought one of those high-end bikes is a bachelor who bikes amazing distances — even up to Lake Erie — to pursue his bird-watching hobby. I’m sure there are others around, but he’s the only one I know of.
The battery bikes? Those looked like they might catch on when they first came out, but we have seen the majority of Amish church districts decide to forbid those one after the other. There is a concern what those might lead to and the small step between those & motor-bikes. This is not the only reason they won’t replace the regular bike: the cost. The bike runs around the $1,000 mark and anyone I’ve talked to feels it’s out of reach budget-wise PLUS the battery is only good for about two years with “moderate” use and will then need to be replaced at a cost between $500-$600.
A few years ago I tested one at a bike shop and was very impressed, until I learned the cost & battery expense, but while I was mentally doing budgeting in my mind, the topic came up in council-church and our district was agreed to not allow them for now.
Now I hear (note this is only heard) of a bike being made with some kind of spring that will wind on the level or going downhill and unwind to help with going uphill. Now that sounds a little more like it!
I wonder ifvit would feasable for a 71 year old lady (me ) to buy one of those bikes with the springs.
Seriouy,my old 1998 clunker failm me ( well almost )every time I go to town in it.
No tags or insurance to buy also.
My 91 year old mom lives with me,so would have to getvone of the side carts so she could go also.She is as adventuresom as I am.My home is 25 plus miles from town,so would have to leave by daylight.Most people sayvmy property is so far out in the boonies,I have to pipe in dunshine.
I can remember going everywhere with my granddad back in the forties and we rodeca one horse farm wagon.Quilt in back if I got sleepy.We would go to town,selling produce as we went,hauled firewood for and neighbors,but the most fun was loading up the fishing poles for a day of fishing.He rode, “Baby,” many times when he went to town by himself,sometimes with a saddle,sometimes not.
Who is the manufacturer of these spring loaded bikes? I used to be a pretty good bike rider and rode my lsst one after I turned fifty and volunteered to feed our catfish every day.Bumpy ride going across pasture and uphill st that.But so much fun flying zcross those bumps coming back.
Man, Erik, am I glad you post links to old AA threads on Facebook. I’ve sat here and read the whole comment history between Alice Aber, Richard, and SHOM. Thoroughly enjoyed myself. This community of commenters is half of the attraction of your blog. I love hearing from these people and miss you all when there is no new post for a couple days.
Amish and Autos
Regarding the buying/driving of cars by some Amish – they had to be somber-colored and plain so as not to seem vain or competitive about them. This would be frowned upon.
Ways the Amish get around
I found this article/post very interesting. Seems all the pictures of Amish people show them walking or riding in buggies, I enjoyed learning about the different means of travel. The two that surprised me the most were the rollerblades and the electric bicycles. Who would have thought???