Cargo County: Pedalling books into communities across Cambridgeshire

This article was published in 2022, in Magazine 155.

Children in dressing up clothes in front of Jessie and Bessie the book bikesAt the end of May, Camcycle met Ally Clarke from Cambridgeshire Libraries as she prepared to launch two new bespoke cargo bikes which will be pedalling into local communities as part of the mobile library service.

Bessie the Book Bike is an electric-assist Urban Arrow provided to the library as a result of funding from the Department for Transport and Energy Saving Trust’s eCargo Bike Grant Fund and City Changer Cargo Bike, a Horizon 2020 Cycle Logistics programme delivered in partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council. Jessie is a refurbished Bakfiets which had been sitting unused in the storage arches under Elizabeth Way. Both have now been branded up (look closely to spot the clever book names!) and are ready to help local people borrow and renew books and find out more about their local library services.

Ally had seen book bikes like this in Boston, USA and thought it was about time some were created in the UK’s cycling capital. She loves the fact that the cycles are a low-cost, eco-friendly and adaptable way to get out and about into local communities. Bessie can be booked for village fetes, school events, old people’s homes and fresher’s fairs.

Close up of cycling book graphic on the book bike with titles such as Read the Road and Paperback RiderJessie, who has been regally refurbished in purple courtesy of a library grant to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, will be carrying royalty-themed books and craft activities. She began her own mini Tour de Cambridgeshire in March at the beginning of June and will also be visiting Ely, Huntingdon, St Neots, Papworth and Cambourne.

Watch our video interview with Ally Clarke on the Camcycle YouTube channel.