This article was published in 2016, in Newsletter 129.
As readers of my blog will be aware, I’m not one to hold back from criticism when I think local retailers are letting us down. When we’re off out shopping or to catch a film, having somewhere to leave our bikes, and being able to get directly back to them afterwards, matters – I’m looking at you, Vue Cinema and the Grafton Centre – stop locking your front doors before all the films finish if you want our custom! Somewhere safe to lock up and access such that I can get in and out with shopping is a minimum, but this is Cambridge and I’m always looking out for those retailers who provide a bit more for cyclists.
Getting big stuff home is the final frontier of cycling provision. For me that usually means access with a bike trailer on my ex-postie’s bike, but not everyone has the luxury of owning a cargo-carrying bicycle. Yeah, I suppose you could use one of the short-term car hire companies (assuming you can drive), but would you want to get as angry and fed up as all the folk you pass every day sitting stuck in their cars? Doesn’t sound fun to me.
If you’re shopping at Homebase on Newmarket Road you’ve got a great new option. They’ve just got hold of a cargo bike you can borrow.
I had a chat with the folk in the store today, and it seems that this is a very new scheme. It’s got a label on the front telling us it’s from London Green Cycles, and it’s built to take a load – the staff were telling me that they were training to use it by carrying colleagues around.
Seriously, if you’ve never ridden a Christiania it’s worth getting hold of this bike for a while just to have a go, they’re rock solid but very rideable.
Cargo bike reviewed
‘Those cargo bikes are real solid work horses with the capacity to carry up to 100 kg plus the rider and a volume of 270 l. The bike comes with a rain tent, a helmet and a heavy-duty lock.’
The deal is simple enough: you leave a £50 deposit (which you get back – using it is free!) and you’ve a few hours to get your stuff home in it. I’d be tempted to get all my other shopping home at the same time and leave my own bike locked at the shop. The Christiania has its own locking mechanism, making it essentially hassle-free.
At the moment, the scheme is new so the shop is just feeling its way. I did ask about booking in advance but the response was a little woolly – presumably if it becomes popular they’ll sort that out soon enough.
I’m impressed, Homebase. Good stuff.