VIEWPOINT: On yer bike!

VIEWPOINT: On yer bike!

A couple of weeks ago, we ran a piece about Paris’s first “cycloplombier”, who uses a cargo bike to get around. It’s an interesting story about a guy who’s found a niche. But is it really feasible for every plumber and heating engineer in every city?

According to London Assembly Member Caroline Russell, it just might be. In an interview on LBC this morning (March 28th), she countered the argument that it’s impractical by saying “there are cargo bike companies that will deliver a boiler to you”.

This may or may not be true. We did a quick Google search and couldn’t find one. The combination of size and weight ruled out the companies we tried… and that was before we enquired about the viability of getting some lengths of copper pipe to site. We couldn’t even get as far as establishing how much it would set you back. However, pedal me did get in touch to say it wasn’t a problem with “a bike plus trailer rig to carry 2m lengths of copper – with that we can move up to 300kg”. It wasn’t viable for a last-minute job as the company’s trailer service is still in its infancy but would be subject to a minimum charge of £35 as things currently stand. For the record, the Congestion Charge and ULEZ Charge combined are £24 for a small van (these are exempt from the LEZ Charge).

If this isn’t giving you a headache already, think about the complexities of loading up your own bike to get to a job. How many times do you encounter an unexpected issue during the course of the working day? With a fully loaded van, that essential tool is always likely to be to hand – or at least under a pile of other stuff you’ve kept for reasons you can no longer remember. But you don’t have a fully loaded van, you have… a bike. And that tool is safely stowed at home where it can’t be nicked at the earliest opportunity. But fear not. Jenny Jones, who sits in the House of Lords has the answer: “Plan a little better.”

Another question: how many of you carry out emergency repairs? And what’s the definition of an emergency? “A serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.” Still, plan for the unexpected and you’ll have all the things you need packed neatly into your cargo bike – which obviously won’t be a target for thieves. How much easier do you want to make it for them? Minimal security and all your tools are pre-loaded into a getaway vehicle!

Air quality is an issue that needs addressing, and the risks to health are alarming. As with all things, it requires a common sense approach that takes into account the practicalities of the real world… otherwise we’ll be saddled with a completely unworkable situation.

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