Out and about with the new Camcycle stall bike

This article was published in 2018, in Newsletter 139.

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It has been an exciting few months for our stall bike. In Newsletter 136 we reported the kind support of the Co-op’s Community Fund towards the stall bike project. We moved ahead with the purchase of a Bakfiets long cargo bike from the School Run Centre in Hope Street Yard. They were very helpful in selecting the right vehicle for the project, providing expert advice and allowing our volunteers to take the prospective vehicles out for test rides. The Bakfiets was chosen for its large cargo deck and the riding preference of our volunteers.

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Roxanne and I met with Steve Puleston, carpenter from Bespoke Cambridge, to refresh our design ideas for the new-look stall. With the bike available we were better able to visualise the design, imagining how it would work as a bike, stall or just transport for our materials to events where we cannot take the bike indoors. In mid-May Steve took the bike away and built a fantastic custom box from our brief. A hatch on the side reveals a beautifully crafted leaflet display, which can be removed and taken away from the bike for indoor events. A hidden leg and neatly concealed panel at the top of the box doubles the display table for outdoor events.

Meanwhile, we purchased and installed a secure lock-up for the stall bike at Outspoken’s Bike Depot. The police-approved Asgard locker will keep our new bike safe and dry when not in use. It has plenty of space if we want to expand our stall to a second bike or trailer, but also extra space for leaflets and other materials away from the Camcycle office. Many thank to staff from Outspoken Delivery for helping with the construction.

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Summer events

On 9 June the bike had its maiden trip to the Eddington Cycling Festival, very appropriately since the event was also new. Roxanne said the bike was fascinating for passers-by, drawing them in and engaging with the stall. It helped to sign up new members and initiate an exciting opportunity to partner with John Lewis for a future event.

The Chesterton Festival on 23 June was attended by Camcycle employee and long-time volunteer Anna Williams. ‘It was a busy afternoon with lots of interesting conversations. Several Reach riders came to tell us how much they enjoyed that event and other topics were discussed: how to deal with cars parking in cycle lanes, problems with potholes and questions about Elizabeth Way, Arbury Road, Histon Road and the future of Park Street cycle park. It was also interesting to speak to a significant number of older people who were sad they no longer felt able to cycle, but had many happy memories to share. It’s always rewarding to get out into local communities and hear firsthand what issues cyclists are facing and, as Chesterton residents make up a important proportion of our membership, we hope to ensure the Festival is an annual event.’

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Camcycle Trustee Willa McDonald took the stall to the Milton Road School’s Summer Fete on Friday 6 July. Taking it down Milton Road at the start of the evening peak was a real test for the new bike, validating the choice of electric assist to enable a wider range of volunteers to participate in stall events. I joined Willa at the school where it was wonderful to see the high proportion of families arriving by cycle. Improving the cycling provision along Milton Road was a popular topic with parents, and a book quiz, prepared by Anna and her daughter, was popular with the children. It’s the first time our stall has been to a school event; many thanks to the parents who invited us.

Taking over from Willa, I rode the stall bike from Milton Road School to Histon, again pleased with the electric assist to whisk me along the Busway. The following morning I was joined by Willa and Camcycle intern Emma Pritchard for a sunny and well-attended Histon & Impington Feast. We had an enjoyable time discussing cycling stories and bugbears with attendees. Many we spoke to were interested in our thoughts on the recent Histon Road consultation, particularly the A14 crossing, King’s Hedges and Darwin Green junctions as these will remain a major obstacle for any residents wishing to cycle into the city along an improved Histon Road. New connections from the Busway were also of interest, particularly a route into and through the Darwin Green development.

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Over the following week the bike was with Footprint Sign and Graphics on Clifton Road receiving a full vinyl wrap of the cargo box. Now bright Camcycle orange and emblazoned with our logos, it will make a great statement both at and riding to events. Keep an eye out for it near you! We have, of course, also acknowledged the Co-op in the design for their kind support of the project.

We’d love your suggestions for future events. Or perhaps you’re involved with a school event and could extend us an invitation. Please let us know via Cyclescape or at contact@camcycle.org.uk

Tom McKeown