Local cargo bike fans aim to spread the joy of cycling

A new campaign to promote and celebrate the benefits of cargo bikes has been launched by Camcycle, in collaboration with Cambridgeshire County Council. The number of cargo bikes in and around Cambridge has been growing rapidly over the last few years and the council is keen to encourage more people to try them. Cambridge was selected as one of the lead cities involved in the European City Changer Cargo Bike project, in recognition of the progress made since the first cargo bikes were introduced to the city in 2002 by Hugh Salt of the School Run Centre. The aim is to continue to set the standard for cities in the UK and Europe and to expand cargo bike use to more families and businesses across Cambridgeshire.

A row of cargo bikes underneath the Abbey-Chesterton bridge

EU funding for promotional activities has enabled the production of a series of videos of Cambridge cargo bike users, who share their experiences of the benefits that the cycles bring to their life and work. A leaflet on family cargo cycling will be delivered to local schools and nurseries and the council is also planning a series of promotional events, which began this month with two free cargo bike maintenance workshops at Outspoken Cycles.

Additional funding from the Department for Transport enabled the council to buy 30 electric cargo bikes which have been rolled out to families, businesses, charities and libraries in the county, and a Try Before You Buy scheme is also available to enable people to trial different types of cargo bike at low cost.

Cllr Neil Shailer, member of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways and Transport Committee and the county’s non-motorised-user champion, said:

Cargo bikes bring a clean, green association and image to a business. Other potential benefits include the ability to go places cars/vans cannot; they are an advertising space in their own right; they are less expensive to run, maintain and tax; and it is easier to recruit staff with no licence requirement.

For employees and families they can increase exercise and support healthy lifestyles. In our busy lives, it is often difficult to find time to exercise and often we have to pay for the privilege. Electric-assist allows for larger loads and greater range than traditional pedal-only bikes. On a bike, people can interact with others in the street, creating more cohesive communities and associations for individuals and businesses. Compare this with a car or van where the driver is closed off from others and brings noise, pollution, deadly danger and congestion.

Cambridge City Councillor Katie Thornburrow, who uses a cargo bike for council business and everyday family use, agreed that increased use of the sustainable vehicles would be transformative. She said:

We know in Cambridge city that we have to take the climate crisis really seriously and one of the top priorities is reducing the use of fossil fuels. One way to do that is to reduce car use. Using cargo bikes and e-cargo bikes will really enable people to think seriously about giving up their cars. It will reduce traffic, reduce pollution and provide more space for people to use our roads in a different way. Families will be enabled to come out more, children will feel safer and older people will enjoy increased freedom. I encourage more people to use them.

Camcycle has been a strong supporter of cargo bikes for many years. On World Car Free Day in 2019, it launched Cambridge’s first Cargo Carnival parade as part of its annual Festival of Cycling.

Executive Director Roxanne De Beaux said:

Cargo bikes and other adapted cycles have been game-changers for many local families and businesses in Cambridge and the Camcycle team is excited to share these stories to inspire more people to think about how they can make their journeys more sustainable, convenient and fun!

Cargo bikes are a great example of climate-positive adaptations we can make in our lives that have benefits beyond the immediate aims of reducing our carbon emissions. As we learned from our local cargo cycling heroes, cargo bikes also save time, keep us fit, are more convenient, improve the bottom line and are a fun way of getting around. We’d like to thank everyone who has participated in this project so far and shared their love for cargo bikes. We want to share even more stories, so please get in touch if you’d like to get involved!

Information and inspiration about cargo bikes in Cambridgeshire can be found at camcycle.org.uk/cargobikes and the videos can be viewed at camcycle.org.uk/videos. Join the campaign by sharing your experiences online using the hashtag #LoveCargoBikes