Do your shopping by bike! Strange idea, or a viable solution for the future? It is, in any case, a solution offered by France's Ecomobilité Agency (EA) for 130 households in the Chambéry area since 2012. With its unique features as a public awareness program, EA analyses real, existing situations, and then offers personalised support (6 months to one year). EA proposes definite solutions for utilitarian uses of your bicycle: this is its promise.
The program of EA also gives an opportunity to assess changes in cyclists habits, to identify the most efficient equipment, to identify the potential obstacles to the use of utility cycling, and of course to demonstrate that it is simple, fast, cheap and good for you to shop by bike.
The free loaning of equipment (bags, attachable baskets, trailors...) is a key element for experimenting with these new habits: these devices allow an increase in the capability of the bicycle (for carrying shopping items) of 25 per cent. It also allows a fuller awareness of the commercial possibilities, which is an additional positive effect and motivation for cyclists.
The establishment of methods of observing the daily travelling of the participants (see an example of this analysis in the attached file, in French) leads to collecting, among other data, the frequency of travel, the transported weight, distance travelled and types of stores visited. The limitations of weight possible to be transported by bicycle is often an unanswered question; with EA, we have shown that in one out of two participant cases, there were transported between 5kg and 25kg of merchandise.
The programs proposed by EA show significant development potential:
- Opening of support systems for businesses and communities;
- Enhancing the experience via communication media (in progress: awareness videos about the ideas), testimonials by the participants, evaluations of their experiences;
- Involving more merchants in the awareness of the bicycle-parking problems, and of the economic opportunities brought about by their cycling clients.