Hi Everyone,

This is my first post and just joined today!

I am looking at buying a tricycle or cargo bike that I can use for work and promotional purposes.  I think it’s a great medium to get amongst the community, its more intimate and personal than a retail shop.  I have also been inspired to get on a bike by Sydney Council who are encouraging a healthy community by creating bike paths and bike friendly policies.

Before I invest in a cargo bike that I can use for promoting my business and at the same time sell the products I am promoting I have done some research and found out from council there is no council approval needed if you are using it for promotional purposes however you cannot sell as there is no approval process or application at this stage to sell retail.

In other words if you want to sell items there is no DA application from council to do this and as it stands you are not allowed to sell anything until this changes.  As I understand you simply cannot sell or get approval to retail non-food goods.  There is a process for food but not for non-food.  

I guess if we are serious about encouraging healthy living it would be great if there is a process to encourage others to be able to use their bike as a way to sell goods. It will mean like the internet, self employed can finally sell their wares directly to consumers without the huge cost of opening a shop and at the same time encouraging diversity of goods offered like handmade crafts, or unique umbrellas or funky t-shirts.

I also found out there is no bike insurance or business insurance that is available for these business on wheels.  So another area that looks like we need to look into if we want to encourage diversity, health and self employment opportunities.

So I guess I am starting the conversation with my post, and hope with enough interest and chatter we can look at creating solutions to encourage more business on bikes!  If there is a application process for food on bikes, it should not be too difficult to extend this to non-food.  Until this changes I guess I will hold off buying a cargo bike, as I really need to also sell not just promote. 

Do you have any information you can add?  What is your experiences using cargo bikes? If you do have approval from your council, how do you find it selling your wares on your bike?  What is your advice?  

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That's a great idea and welcome to Sydney Cyclist.

A bike is legally seen as a vehicle. So surely you can conduct trade from a bicycle the same as a truck or car, or any other vehicle for that matter? Perhaps when discussing with councils you should always just say "vehicle" and neglect to mention it's a bike until they ask for the number plate.

Hi Chris, that's unfortunate that there's no process. Bureaucracy can be slow to adapt. What were you thinking of selling? Perhaps you could include one token food item amongst your offerings, and then you could be included in with ice-cream trucks and the like.

If you sort out those hurdles, I know where you can get one.

Hi Chris and Jon,

Thanks for your advice. I will check if the definition changes anything Jon. But maybe you cannot sell by either form non food products? I really haven't seen anyone sell anything other than food on trucks and bikes. It maybe landlords with their vested interest in ensuring you can only sell goods in physical shops. But like the internet we must look at allowing other forms of retail channels. Look at Sydney, and all the for lease signs out there? How can we encourage people to touch and feel products again and at the same time make it sustainable for small business owners?

Chris we think along the same lines, and share the same first name! I guess I could do that, but not sure whether you can still sell non retail legally. Also not sure how difficult it would be. But a good idea, as everyone likes to eat or drink.

Keep the ideas coming! Maybe this is the start of a something exciting, imagine a meeting point, of cargo bikes selling all sorts of things from hats to dresses and hand made crafts! Just like markets, but they all meet in different locations. Businesses like these encourage real connection with the community, give business owners and employees renewed purpose in life. Also with such a high youth unemployment rate it gives an opportunity for young Australians to work and at the same time keep healthy and being part of community. It gives youth a sense of confidence and purpose, which so important for everyone, especially in those younger years.

Of course there are huge benefits for customers. It gives customers diversity in buying things ( like the internet ) are not sold at the major retailers. They have personal connection of supporting Australian small/micro businesses.

I am thinking of having a meeting with Council once I get enough interest and support by you and the general public.

I know psbikes in melb do a lot of work with business'

lovely guys, have a chat to them


I happen to know the guy from PS bikes is in NSW right now. So best to call him tonight, a good chance he can see you this week if your serious.

I took the two wheel for a test ride today. It was fantastic, and the kids really loved it too.

Hi Jon,

Thanks for the heads up. I have already been in touch with him. Yes he is a lovely bloke and I love the history of Christiana bikes. I've been to Denmark and the small community of Christiana, amazing place. I hope to help make cargo bikes like the ones he import more popular in Sydney but first there needs to be discussion in how we can make this happen? Any lawyers or council staff able to advise what is the best process of encouraging this new model of retail?
Peter Santos is the best at fitting out cargo bikes for small business by quite a long way. Ben at Tri-Sled recumbents in Dromana is very flexible when it comes to building load carrying HPV's but his custom builds would cost more.
Most progressive Councils will welcome flexible retail. Nearly every area is blighted by the Westfield curse and are willing to experiment to enliven public areas. Nearly every pop-up retail business is subsidised by council or government and a cargo bike offers many of the benefits but with less cost.
Thanks for this Peter, have already been in touch with him.

The council is paid by ratepayers, and will act to protect the interest of landowners/ratepayers who rent out shopfronts.  ie for all intentional purposes the council is a ratepayers guild and will resist the addition of merchants who compete with ratepayers tenants.

ie there is plenty of potential for cargo bike based businesses but I don't think any area with ample retail space and significant contention over thoroughfares is a good location for that.

I've spoken to my local council about using a cargo bike as a stall at the monthly market and they loved the idea as it meant one less marquee they have to erect. Space rental for the day is about $45 and there is at least one market every weekend within riding distance of where I live. And throngs of consumers with cash in hand, itching to spend it!

That's great, which council? Do they run the markets? Can you ask your council if they would allow you to ride and sell anywhere else? How could you get approval not only to sell at markets, but in open areas like at a park, open spaces near a beach or mall? I guess the idea is not be limited to just markets, after all your bike is mobile and it would be a shame not to utilise its dynamism in the same way an ice cream van meets its customers. But yes I would certainly go to markets, likes Fox studies and Paddington Markets on weekends and some midweek markets, but on other days when no markets would love to ride along a beach or park and do pitt stops. What fun it would be! When I was in Brazil you could virtually buy anything on the beach without moving, it was fantastic, and at the time I knew my money was supporting the person I was buying it from which felt great.
Yes, Jason you have good point. But surely there is a way that there can be a licence for these type of businesses on bikes, and there could even be a fee provided that is similar to council rate for these business in bikes. I guess I open to such a framework. I also believe the Sydney council would be open to creating a regularity environment where these business operate in with certain guidelines and rules to ensure safety of both operators and customers. As I understand the Sydney Council is pro bike culture and community, and employment. But here is the point, there is no framework, it's new. So the first step is to see who else is interested in doing this, if there is enough interest and demand then I think the council would look into to it to make it happen. So I'm reaching out to all of you to see who would be interested in joining me. With enough demand insurance there could be a whole new industry supporting this new medium, including insurance companies catering for these businesses, suppliers of handicrafts, repair workshops, public and private space hire and many other linked areas. It's really exciting! I'm excited in being involved in creating a new industry that would be great for everyone.


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