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Pedal Me Supermarket review: Bicycle-powered food deliveries during lockdown and beyond

Verdict:

Easy-to-use ordering website means fresh fruit and vegetables are delivered - by bike - the very next day

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Easy-to-use ordering site • Pedal powered next day delivery • Great produce • Delivery radius expanded

Pedal Me first came to my attention last November when, ahead of the following month's General Election, the bicycle taxi service began advertising its offer of free rides to polling stations. With no input on who the company and its riders thought the passengers should vote for, its aim was turnout more than outcome.

At that time, none of us were aware of coronavirus and had no idea that we were just a few months away from a pandemic that would bring the world to a near-standstill - and bring with it a devastating death toll.

Fast forward to today and the Prime Minister who won that election, after shaking hands when maybe he shouldn't and later finding himself in intensive care, is back behind his desk and looking at how Britain might exit lockdown.

We're, rightly, discouraged from making too many visits to supermarkets or other essential shops in order to do our part to slow and eventually halt the spread of Covid-19.

One obvious way of doing that is having groceries delivered to your door. Tesco is operating an infuriating version of Glastonbury's ticket sales platform where you go online at midnight, refresh the page, only to find that all the slots for the next three weeks have been taken.

But for much of Greater London, there's a bicycle-powered alternative with a much more reliable delivery timeframe.

Moving from mostly just riding people from A to B - a market that will have dropped during lockdown - Pedal Me has looked for other ways to survive. But beyond surviving, the company is - or at least appears to be - thriving, and that's thanks in no small part to its new Supermarket.

Order, wait a day, enjoy

Pedal Me Supermarket's ordering site - supermarket.pedalme.co.uk - is pretty easy to use, has a nice spread of products beyond the vegetable box that drew me in and offers products from independent retailers I wouldn't otherwise have heard of.

What's more, if you order by 18:00 then a cargo bike will arrive at your address the following day with a box full of fresh produce.

Standing well back from the front door, the cheery looking delivery rider checked it was going to the correct address and made his way to the next delivery. Just as he was riding off, the past arrived to see the future as a large white van chugged to a halt by the kerb to deliver a letterbox-sized package to a neighbour.

Connecting small retailers with wider markets, now and after corona

The Supermarket, according the Pedal Me founder Ben Knowles, is an adaptation of its existing delivery service.

'We work with a lot of small startups that make incredible food, usually delivered direct to restaurants and bars,' he explained.

However for Knowles, Pedal Me is all about wider change. 'At Pedal Me we try and run projects that are "all good" - that work for everyone around us. With the new Pedal Me Supermarket we're looking to help suppliers, consumers and the wider city by moving delivery journeys over to cargo bike, and to provide a growing number of staff good quality employment into the future.'

The coronavirus lockdown won't go on forever and already Knowles and Pedal Me are looking past that to what might come next.

'The eventual vision is of us connecting local producers in zones across London, with some suppliers being more global and delivering outside of their zone where they're producing something that isn't available in other areas, but most having a high density of customers nearby.

'For example, a customer will get bread from a local bakery, coffee from a local coffee roastery, books from a local book shop and gin from a distillery the other side of town. Of course - we've had to start smaller than that.

'The main cost in online shopping is logistics. By amalgamating the logistics - for example, one bike making a huge number of deliveries in a small area - and by virtue of the fact that we are exceptional at planning and organising logistics for our clients, we can be incredibly efficient.

'When you bring that together with the fact that we then deliver by the most efficient delivery system across urban environments in the world - the Pedal Me cargo bike ridden by a highly trained Pedal Me rider - we can allow these small providers to compete with with the bigger players, giving them a market not just in these lockdown times, but far beyond.'

Finally, he adds, Knowles and Pedal Me 'started off taking on Uber - now we've decided to take on Amazon too.'

Price: 
Fruit and veg box: £22 ; see site for other prices