Transition Town Letchworth on transporting cargo without the carbon

Glyn Holt, who leads the Terracycle project, with the new trailer

Glyn Holt, who leads the Terracycle project, with the new trailer - Credit: Transition Town Letchworth

This month Transition Town Letchworth obtained a bike cargo trailer with fittings ready for on-road usage.

The purchase was funded by the Letchworth Heritage Foundation's Communities Looking Forward Grant Programme and the Transition Network on behalf of The National Lottery Community Fund.

The trailer will primarily be used to move TerraCycle collections from Morrisons Supermarket to Wilbury School. TerraCycle is an organisation that specialises in collecting and repurposing hard-to-recycle packaging materials.

The school's Parent Teacher Association receives funds in return for the waste they send on to Terracycle. 

As a charity without premises we needed a trailer that would fold away when not in use.

With the trailer chosen, we needed to ensure our volunteer had appropriate insurance. To cover volunteer cycling our present charity insurance would increase by £265, more than the cost of the trailer!

Given that our volunteer was wanting to use the trailer to help other voluntary organisations, we looked into personal bike insurance options.

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This turned out to be a major obstacle. Some years ago most car insurers agreed that people would be covered by their personal car insurance when undertaking unpaid volunteering. 

 Finding a suitable personal insurance product that covers a cyclist while volunteering has proved challenging. 

Firstly, we found that volunteering is generally considered to be equivalent to commercial courier cycling. Courier cycling premiums are significantly more costly than policies for everyday or even competitive cycling. 

Secondly, not all bike insurance covers the attachment of a bike trailer. Finally, the cost of bike insurance is associated more with the risk of theft or damage to the bicycle rather than public liability or personal accident, and so it gets very pricey if your volunteer has an expensive bike.

In fact, we identified just one company who offered us affordable cover for our purpose. Clearly there is a gap in the insurance market.

Our volunteer will be seeing how many car journeys can be avoided by using the bike cargo trailer. See if you can spot the trailer out and about in the town!