Ever since I was offered £1000 no questions asked from City South's Enterprise Fund (thanks Niall and Co.) I knew I wanted to solve our logistical problems as sustainably as possible. I did some research and met Graham from Punta Velo, one of the UK’s Larry vs. Harry, Bullitt cargo bike importers who is currently based at Starley bikes in Altrincham.
So now I was in love with Bullitt bikes and to make it even better, there was the offer of a prototype e-hub (motorised wheel) as well. After a few emails back and forth to Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) it was looking like we were eligible for a sustainable travel grant too. Being a quasi-coop of donors and producer massively helped us win the grant as it wasn’t based on just Joe & I. We had the full weight of our 200+ donor base making up the numbers for an increased grant. So if any of our donors are reading this it’s thanks to you that we can now deliver, pick up and get around the city without emissions. We’re also in the process of changing to a sustainable energy supplier, so charging the bike’s battery will be even better for the environment.
That all started around 18 months ago and we've had our bright green Bullitt out on the road for a while now. Shifting cider in glass bottles means we can only get to two, maybe three drops in a single journey. It's a very full, heavy load. The bike certainly didn't have the capacity for me to put out our full market stall offering so I knew we needed a trailer too to haul the extra stock, signage and display crates. All of that went into our funding bid with TfGM. Then the pressing season hit in Autumn 2015 and our dreams of phase two of our sustainable logistics plan had to be put on hold while we made this year's batch.
So 2016 came along far too quickly and with the looming deadline to complete the project in order to get our upfront costs back from the TfGM grant, the pressure was on. I still hadn’t put much thought into what I wanted the bike to look like with its crates and trailers. Then I remembered that we’d dropped off the unused pallets (PIC) from last year’s ‘Dig the City’ event at Hulme Community Garden Centre (HCGC). Those that know us well know we have a little sweet spot for the HCGC team and when we did their apple day last year we met Bayan Smith, (www.bayansmith.com) the now in-house craftsman who has a shipping container workshop on site there. We were off to a great start! Bayan and I share a love of many things and even talked about a possible new side project but the invitation to join him in his workshop and get my hands into sawing, planing, thinknessing, dominoing, biscuiting and sanding was not to be missed. It's been great in the down season to work outside, work with a like-minded craftsman and work with our hands. Together we crafted two great boxes from the unused ‘Dig the City’ pallets and the end result looks fantastic and they are certainly built to last. The trailer box in particular has had so many processes to each piece of wood I really do have a new found appreciation for the craft. If this cider thing doesn't work out I'd gladly be Bayan's apprentice.
So, if you have your own ideas for a wood-based project, be it chairs, a chess table, a cutting board or even a Cider House, then Bayan is your man. Go seek him out at HCGC and buy a few locally grown plants while you're there. As they continue to develop their site it's truly becoming a little oasis in the city. If only we could find a way to move the cider house there...
Being part of the growing number of businesses who choose sustainable logistics as their preferred choice for getting about the city is great. Not only do we turn heads but demonstrate that you can do good business in every sense of the word without adding to congestion, emissions and you have the added bonus of getting fit in the process, especially when hauling vast quantities of cider and juice. If you’re considering the leap then here’s a great article for the comparison of Van vs. Cargo bike in the city. You’ll be joining a great community of like-minded riders who love to share their experiences while Manchester’s cycling infrastructure continues to develop. I’m one rider who loves getting about the city by (electrically assisted at times) pedal power.