23 April 2009

Grocery Delivery By Bicycle

Thanks to a reader, Simon, for this little story. Waitrose is a supermarket chain in Britain, founded in 1904. They have about 200 stores in the UK and they have a well-developed delivery service if you buy your groceries online.

It turns out that they're starting [or rather, re-starting, since this used to be normal] delivering groceries by bicycle. Nice. They're not really shouting out about the fact on their website, but maybe it's early days.

Can our readers in Britain tell us if Waitrose are ahead of the pack regarding something like bicycle racks outside their shops? Considering the fact that cyclists make better shoppers, this might be a way forward if they're keen on CSR.

Now delivering groceries by bicycle is hardly new. Many places around the world feature this service.

Here's a news clip from Swiss tv about a service in Lausanne, featuring a Bullitt from Larry vs Harry.

It's in French, but pictures tell stories, too.


Anth said...

As far as I remember from reading about this, it's a trial in a few of their stores first rather than a national roll-out, which is probably why it's not shouted about on the website.

As for bike racks at supermarkets? Well... They exist... There's still the general 'But how do you carry your stuff home on the bike?' that pervades. We don't quite have the cargobike, or 'utility' bike culture yet.

Bristol Traffic said...

They do have in Bristol, we in Bristol Traffic shall attempt it. There are some bike racks outside their Henleaze outlet.

Waitrose are a fairly premium supermarket, with less outlets than, say, Tesco, whose supermarkets are surrounded by vast car parks, with petrol stations selling discounted fuel to bring in customers. That said, Tesco's online shopping service is very good for people that don't want to do the two bike trips to the supermarket that the cargo racks imply, and can afford the delivery fees.

John the Monkey said...

Waitrose also hire out bike trailers to customers - Peter Bancroft covered these on the cyclechat blog;


Hire is free for up to 3 days.

Kevin Love said...

Looks good! It will be interesting to see how this goes. There is no formal service like this in Toronto, but I see lots of private bikes in the bike lanes coming home from shopping with lots of groceries on them.

Sometimes, one of those bikes is mine. I've got 65L Basil panniers for my Pashley and put a wire basket on the rear rack and big cloth shopping bags on the handlebars. That enables me to transport an entire trolley of groceries.

Sometimes I'll also have big bulky items bungee-corded on in improbable ways. When I get home, I get comments like "Headed down the Ho Chi Mihn Trail?" As long as they help unload the bike, they can say whatever they want!

What does CSR stand for?

Nice clip for us French speakers. Ici, beaucoup de monde parle ce langue. One does not, strictly speaking, have to be Canadian to speak French. But it helps :)

Mikael said...

CSR=Corporate Social Responsibility.

mikey2gorgeous said...

@Anth.. get yourself one of these...


I reckon I could carry a 6 person family weekly shop on one! What do you think?


Anth said...

Hey Mikey. I've actually had the plans for that very trailer for a while now, and a recent trip to Copenhagen has rekindled the desire to finally build one (not sure if it'll be bamboo yet).

Work starts soon!

Kiwehtin said...

In the clip they said they were following the example, among other places, of Canada. I'd love to know where they have a service like this in Canada... The closest thing I can think of to this is the "triporteur" delivery bikes used almost exclusively by dépanneurs (small corner stores) here in Montreal. Never heard of a delivery service like that here though.

Any other Canadian readers here have an idea?

WestfieldWanderer said...

All power to Waitrose with this.

But I reckon that they've nicked my idea.


It's cool being a trendsetter!

Mikael said...

you're a role model for a generation of ... well... people in west england... :-)

Anonymous said...

Local councils have put up bike stands all over the place in London, I've always been able to find one near any small shop.
Large supermarkets tend to have a few, but sometimes in odd places. Even my nearest massive DIY store had a couple!

However, I think more will be needed if they're to keep up with demand.

, but I haven't tried outside London.
(Even my local massive DIY store, B&Q in Wandsworth, has bike stands!)

tartan socks said...

I work Sainsburys and cycle to work everyday.There are racks and whats more the're under cover.

Melbourne Cyclist said...

I frequently get people asking about my panniers (have Deuter Rack Pack II's, love them, although one handle has finally broken - just needs screwing back in), with the most common question being "how do you get that on your back?", asked when I'm just carrying one; closely followed by "what's that?". So I explain that it's not a backpack, and also take the time to explain how they fit onto the bike, that they don't affect balance, they're really easy to use, and that cycling is absolutely great. Also that I can fit a week of shopping for two people into them easily (well, sort of - food shopping happens at the market, and I always end up with stuffed panniers, with infrequent local-supermarket trips for canned goods, toilet rolls etc).

Key points that appeal to my fellow Melburnians are that bicycle parking is free, and that a pair of panniers like this can easily carry a case of wine (12 bottles), a six pack of beer and some snags (sausages). This seems to appeal to a lot of Aussies :-)

As ever though, we don't seem to have enough bike parking in town, nor at the market (there are street signage poles doubling as unauthorised extra parking), although there's four-five hoops at my local supermarket. Used to be six, now only four of them are fully functioning, the fifth has been knocked over somewhat, but still useable if desperate.

I like the look of the trailer - I've also seen kid trailers here, commercially built ones as well as home-made, some for the front and some for the back of the bike, that take at least two small children sitting down, or alternatively a whole bunch of shopping.

Shaun McDonald said...

Around the UK I've found that most supermarkets have bike parking, though for many it's not obvious where it is, and you have to kinda hunt for it. The usage of the bike parking in some stores seems to be increasing. Around London I've noticed an increase in the number of people with Dutch bikes and often a basket too.

Philip Buchanan said...

This is very cool, but WHAT is the purpose of delivery on a bike? Just to be eco-friendly?

Mikael said...

eco-friendly, sure. but in many cities it's the quickest way to get around, and cheaper, so you save money on delivery.

cargo bikes for delivery are as old as bicyles themselves, so it's not like it's something new.

it's always been practical, inexpensive, efficient and quick.