Bike to the future

BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

The EU, leading by example.

Cycling provides more sustainable shopping for business and customer


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While many still think of cycling as a recreational activity, it is increasingly becoming part of sustainable living and business. It’s common in European cities to see bike couriers and more deliveries are being made by bike.

There are other opportunities for increasing cycling in towns and cities, with the additional benefits of a healthier lifestyle and less noise and pollution. But there is more that can be done in day to day living.

“Four out of five shopping trips can easily be made with cycles,” says Randy Rzewnicki, Project Manager of the European Cyclists Federation (ECF), “so we asked Brussels cyclists to commit to doing their shopping by bike.”

They didn’t do it the easy way. They asked people to shop by bike all through November.

The European Union Cyclists Group (EUCG), made up of 1,400 people working in the institutions responded to the challenge. Phillippe Randaxhe, one participant said, “I work in DG Research and I know there is almost nothing being done to support cycling. I want to find ways of changing that!”

After completing the month, as 60% of entrants did, their experiences were carefully noted and passed to the business community.

What were the findings? “We need more secure places to park bikes and it would be great if we can get some covered bike stands,” says Rzewnicki. But there were advantages also, he adds. “I do most of my shopping by bike and I find it quicker, because I’m not spending my time driving around looking for a place to park, and I find it less stressful.”

Using a lightweight trolley that can clip onto the back of a bike, or be used as an ordinary shopping bag has proved a great success for the cycling advocate. “I can use the bag in the supermarket, and by using the self- scanners provided, I just fill up my bag, cycle home, unclip and bring it into my kitchen where I unpack. I only have to do that once.”

The experiment has been successful and will be used to encourage their 500,000 members in 40 countries to do more shopping by bike.

Earlier research has shown that cycling could also be good for business, with 51% of logistics journeys could be done by bike.

If we can imagine that, and more people using cycles for shopping, it is not hard to see how these two steps could revolutionise towns and cities, making them cleaner and quieter places to live, work and shop.

The good news is that business is taking notice. Many small packages sent by post are being delivered by bike, Colruyt has offered bikes and safe parking for their employees – and that helps as one car parking spot can accommodate 6 cycles – and Delhaize, another supermarket chain is going to build or improve cycling facilities at 100 of their shops.

Cycling as sustainable living has moved up a gear.

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