This article was published in 2017, in Newsletter 131.
Following on from last year’s new branding, the Camcycle committee have started a project to refresh the stall bike. We have used the stall bike for a number of years as part of our recruitment and outreach activities. You’ll no doubt have seen it at various fairs, festivals and rides around Cambridge over the years. During that time it’s suffered expected mechanical wear and tear, and has picked up damage to the paint work and the wicker basket. The refresh project is an opportunity to set these things right – to have a bike sprayed in Camcycle orange, to have Camcycle logos added by a professional sign writer – such that it is distinctly recognisable and represents the Campaign well when spotted out on the road or at events.
We have also identified the stall bike as a barrier to volunteering. With its heavy frame, the high centre of gravity and the basket and the mechanical vagaries it has picked up over the years, it can be an unpleasant bike to ride. Volunteers may be unwilling, or unable, to ride the bike as it currently is and those who do ride it find it difficult to ride any distance. For us to increase the frequency and geographical range of stall events we feel that riding the stall bike must be an option for a broader set of volunteers. For this reason we are considering complete replacement of the stall bike.
The ‘blank slate’ of a new cycle would give us a number of additional opportunities. A bicycle with a lower cargo area would be more stable and easier to ride. Or we could look to tricycles, which are very stable with a load, even when stationary. However, they require a different riding style compared to a two-wheeler and may be harder to manoeuvre around bollards and so on. Does a box-upfront Christiana versus a box-behind tricycle have an impact on these issues? The project aims to look at and consider these options.
An electric-assisted cycle is another potential option. This would help greatly with concerns about the weight of the stall equipment and moving it to events by cargo-bike, which are already heavier than standard cycles, even unladen. However, the use of electric cycles is not welcomed by all members so this also needs careful consideration.
Whether refreshing the current bike, or starting from a new one, we should like the finished product to be well designed. For example, stall literature – leaflets, magazines, posters and banners – should have clear storage locations within the cargo space, so that it is easy for volunteers to set up the stall and, equally important, so the stall can be readily tidied away for the return journey. There should be secure ways to attach equipment (table, gazebo and banner stand) that won’t fit into the cargo storage, rather than using awkward straps as at present.
An aspect I’m personally keen on exploring is making use of the bike-as-stall. There is a tendency to arrive at an event on the stall bike, then for it to take second place while the event is conducted from a table. Like an ice-cream seller operating from a tricycle becoming a talking point at a summer wedding, I think an interesting, and perhaps a touch quirky, design to the bike would make it an attention-grabbing and discussion-starting asset at the events we attend. For example, a hinged, or sliding, leaf could double the top of the cargo storage to become our stall’s table. Or a leaflet display could be designed into a pannier. Perhaps a banner could attached to the bike so a separate stand was unnecessary.
We will be applying for grants and considering sponsorship opportunities to fund the cost of a new bike.
We would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Do you have a cargo-bike and would a similar one would suit our project? Would you object to the addition of electric assistance, or see the benefit in a heavy cargo-bike being ridden by our volunteers? Do you have skills, or contacts, in design, woodworking, metalworking, sign-painting or other areas that would assist with the project?
Please join the discussion on Cyclescape thread 2990.