Cargo bike revolution: The cycling tradesman

This article was published in 2020, in Magazine 149.

Sam Groves hasn’t looked back since he switched to business by bike seven years ago.

My business is anything generally related to the improvement and upkeep of gardens and homes. So I’m a gardener, landscaper, painter, builder, carpenter, handyman etc. I work by bike because it is cheaper, healthier and more invigorating than the van alternative.

Handyman Sam Groves with his cycle and trailerAbout seven years ago I recognised that petrol/diesel-based transport was unsustainable. At that time, I lived in South Africa where electric cars were novel. I also wanted to benefit from the physical and psychological health that cycling provides, both for myself and my family. So I suggested to my wife that we sell our car and see how it went. Since then, we’ve never wanted to return to owning a vehicle.

For work, I currently use three trailers that I built myself, using materials that haven’t cost me anything. I built one trailer by fitting the wheels from my youngest son’s outgrown balance bike to a frame fashioned from the roof-rack of a Land Rover. A second trailer is a flatbed (basically a piece of plywood) bolted to a child’s bike trailer that someone was chucking out. The third trailer is a very long ladder attached to an axle from another abandoned kid’s trailer.

Sometimes, my work involves transporting interesting things by bike. For example, recently I was asked by Trinity College to design and build two portable stands for life-size posters of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. I managed to deliver Liz and Henry unscathed, along with their stands, by laying them on the ladder trailer. I delivered them late at night when traffic was at a minimum.

More businesses could work by bike if they were incentivised to do this. Doing business by van is time-costly and inconvenient in Cambridge because of the congestion and parking limitations. The council could provide some form of sponsorship towards quality bike options for people who want to run businesses by bikes. Trailers seem to be in short supply and expensive.

Contact Sam on 07341 905435 or email samgroves825@gmail.com