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 sort of the final frontier of cycling provision. For me that usually means access with a bike trailer on my ex-posties 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. This one here...
I had a chat with the folk in the store today, and it seems that this is a very new scheme. Its got a label on the front telling us its from London Green Cycles, and its 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 its worth getting hold of this bike for a while just to have a go, they're rock solid but very rideable.
The deal is simple enough, you pay 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 sort of feeling its way in to things. I did ask about booking in advance but the response was a little wooly - presumably if it becomes popular they'll have to sort that out soon enough.
I'm impressed, Homebase. Good stuff. Thanks!