The Cargo Bike Movement in Edinburgh tackling food insecurity in its fight for a greener future
Beginning in April last year, a group of dedicated cargo bike volunteers from all walks of life rallied together to deliver unused food from supermarkets to those in need across the Capital six nights a week, resulting in around 270 evenings of food collection.
Since it started, the movement has done more than 1,111 collections leading to the equivalent of more than 56,752 meals delivered to those in need in Edinburgh, whilst saving an impact of an estimated 76,273 kg of carbon dioxide.
With a volunteer group of approximately 25 people – including Lee Craigie, Active Nation commissioner for Scotland – and five cargo-equipped bikes, the CargoBikeMovement is working to provide a greener way of solving food insecurities.
Talking about the reasons the movement began, Naomi Arnold, project manager said: “I think there was that knee jerk reaction of understanding how many people in Edinburgh which is a very affluent area, needed support in such an emergent fashion.
"A lot of people who volunteered were furloughed and just wanted to do something with their time.
"We’ve got students, civil servants people who work in labs, endurance cyclists- it’s just such a motley crew who are all very dedicated to the movement.
"We are just joining up dots that needed to be joined all along.
"The response from those receiving the food has been really positive.
"Our vision for this project is to build that outreach element for people to bring cargo bikes into their lives because we all firmly believe that our cities will be so much more pleasant and healthy if we find zero emission alternatives to most of those short trips that fossil fuelled delivery vans are making in our built up areas. ”
Cargo bike volunteers collect food from the supermarkets and take this their current partner’s The Shrub – a cooperative in Edinburgh working for a world without waste – at their hub on Bread Street offering free food twice a week.
A number of supermarkets – such as Tesco, M & S, Waitrose – are involved with the movement including many in Morningside and Leith, as well as a number of Co-ops across Edinburgh.
Those housed in hostels and hotels were the primary receivers of the food when lockdown began, and the charity are now working closely with the Refugee Community Kitchen.
The main funding for the project comes from Paths for All with funding also coming from Sestran and Sustrans as well as Cycling Scotland.
Naomi said: “It’s now become a bigger and much more well-oiled machine which is quite exciting.”
The movement would like to follow in the footsteps of places like Copenhagen and Amsterdam where pupils are taken to school in cargo bikes to limit carbon footprint.
"We’d love to see that in Edinburgh- that’s one of the really big dreams.” said Naomi.
Currently storing their bikes in The Shrub’s hub at Guthrie Street – the movement are in conversation with Edinburgh City Council to move into a new building which they hope to make their own visible hub.