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  • Sarah Gerhardt

Cargo bikes in Edinburgh: Rent a bike and join the movement!

What are cargo bikes?

Callum cycling to work

Cargo bikes are constructed for transporting loads that you would not be able to fit on a regular bicycle. They come in various shapes and sizes and typically have two, three, or four wheels. They may be referred to by several different names such as tricycles or trikes, freight cycles, and box cycles. This depends on their design and the number of wheels.


The cargo area of the bike can be an open or enclosed box, a basket, or simply a flat platform. It is usually mounted either low behind the front wheel or between parallel wheels at the front or the rear of the cargo cycle. These vehicles are constructed to handle heavy loads.


Cargo cycles were a popular form of transport in the early 20th century but fell out of fashion after WW2 when motor cars became affordable and widespread. 

With the recent advances in electric technology cargo bikes have had a renaissance. Cargo cycles with electric assist have become a great option for hillier terrain such as Edinburgh where manual cargo cycles can become difficult to ride.


The cargo bike industry in the UK has been growing exponentially in the last few years as cargo cycles are proving to be a great way to get around, especially in cities where getting around in a car can be tricky. 


What is the cargo bike movement?


Cargo Bike Movement is an Edinburgh-based initiative that uses cargo cycles to promote fairer, greener, and healthier communities. Their motto is “We shift hearts, minds & other stuff by cargo bike.”.


Cargo Bike Movement first started in April 2020 as a response to the first Covid-19 lockdown. The organisation brought together volunteers and cycles to respond to the food insecurity experienced by many people across Edinburgh. They delivered surplus supermarket food to those living in hotels, shelters, and hostels. They also supported local food banks and built partnerships with local organisations across the city.


They soon found that this was a win-win situation. It benefitted the people hit by food insecurity and gave the volunteers a positive outlet that increased their health and well-being during an often stressful and isolating time.


These days Cargo Bike Movement has several initiatives that go beyond their food collection service. These include their support of cargo bike-based businesses in their Cargo Bike Movement Hub and their free-of-charge bike loans. They also run events and training to promote the use of cargo cycles in and around Edinburgh.


Through their work they are directly responding to the need for better air quality in Edinburgh, the global climate and ecological crises, the social inequalities across our communities, and the need for good examples of suitable sustainable transport options.


Where to rent cargo bikes in Edinburgh?


Riding a cargo cycle can take a bit of getting used to even if you have been a confident cyclist for years. Why not rent a cargo bike to try it out? Here is a list of some great places in and around Edinburgh to try a cargo bike:


Cargo Bike Movement:


Edinburgh Festival of Cycling:


Portobello Cargo Bike Library:


Colinton Community Cargo Bike (free to residents of Colinton):


Soul Cycles (buy used cargo bikes):


SPOKES Cargo bike grants (get a grant to buy a cargo bike):

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