By Adrian Filoche
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If you were passing through rue Stanislas-Girardin, Rouen (Seine Maritime), on June 28, 2022 around 1:30 p.m., you may have noticed this unusual scene: boxes and furniture being loaded onto bicycles. Finally, more precisely on trailers, themselves pulled by the cycles.
It was actually a move. But instead of using the traditional van, Bertrand has hired the services of Toutenvélo, a cooperative that operates deliveries but also removals on non-motorized two-wheelers. “I’m a cyclist, I knew, but I didn’t know at first that they offered this,” he says. And to add: “This practice, it fits with my philosophy of life, and with the time. It shows that we can also move this way! »
“We can transport everything”
In the street, under a bright sun (they avoided the terrible ordeal of moving in the rain), the members of Toutenvélo are busy. Well coordinated, the workers take turns transporting and loading the boxes. They started at 1:30 p.m. Shortly after 2 p.m., the old accommodation was already almost empty. There was only a few pieces of furniture left to install before heading for Sotteville-lès-Rouen, the location of the new home to be moved into.
The advantages of moving by bike is that it’s a non-polluting solution, and in addition, you don’t block the street!
Against the sidewalk, the trailers patiently await the last boxes. On one of them, you can see a washing machine and a refrigerator. “Each one can carry around 300 kilos”, specifies Samuel De Gentil-Baichis, co-manager of Toutenvélo in Rouen. And to add, with a smile: “We can transport everything. The only things for which we can have trouble is a grand piano, or a large piece of furniture such as a Norman wardrobe weighing more than 300 kilos. But that’s not common! »
Toutenvélo, what is it?
Toutenvélo is a network of cooperative societies, created in Rennes in 2012. Today, this network has about ten cooperatives throughout France, including Rouen and Le Havre. Their core business is the delivery of parcels by trailer bike. But the cooperatives have also developed in recent years removal services on non-motorized two-wheelers.
Moves between 0 and 5 kilometers
The most imposing pieces of furniture are attached using straps and turnbuckles, while the smallest supplies are placed in boxes, which are themselves stored in closed trailers. In total, around ten bicycles (and the same number of cyclist movers) were requisitioned to take part in the move. “We can do it several times, with round trips. But today, as it’s about four kilometers away, we’re going to make one big convoy! »
Regarding their radius of action, the Toutenvélo teams offer removals over a maximum distance of five kilometres. Another element to take into account: the elevation on the route. “We can do in the Mont-Saint-Aignan-Rouen direction, but not the other way around”, comments Samuel, smiling.
Show that moving by bike is possible
For Bertrand’s move, “if all goes well, we should have finished moving in around 4 p.m.”, explains the man who is also a municipal councilor in charge of mobility for the city of Rouen. “It’s a more seasonal activity, but we like to do it. It is very demonstrative! Passers-by sometimes stop to take pictures. We show that a move can be done by bike! »
Faced with these large pieces of furniture arranged on the trailers, the author of these lines imagines that you have to be rather “in good shape” to transport, by bicycle, 300 kilos of supplies. “The bike goes by itself,” replies Samuel. We have electric assistance. The most physical thing is the move itself. »
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