Farr Out Deliveries are an Edinburgh-based, worker-owned, e-cargo bike delivery service. They were founded in early 2020 during the first coronavirus lockdown.
Farr Out – “Edinburgh’s raddest cargo bike courier outfit” – was founded by former bike builder, David Squire and festival/events producer, Alex Fitzhowle, together with lighting designer, Fraser Martin, who has since moved on to other things.
“It was three local Edinburgh lads that love their city; who live, work, spend their time and money locally,” explained Squire.
“We set up the business out of necessity, as a way to support ourselves after losing the majority of our contracts and income for 2020, effectively overnight – as well as from a desire to do something good and make a difference.
“We all had the idea independently, but came to the decision the day of the first UK lockdown. We collected three borrowed bikes on the 14th of April, and did our first deliveries on the 16th of April 2020.”
Squire said the three men had sensed that Edinburgh businesses would be receptive to the idea.
“There’s a real need and desire in our city to move towards more sustainable practices. We’re actively reducing pollution levels and congestion on a daily basis by providing a genuine alternative to deliveries made by van.
“Alex has a background in food and drink also, so saw the trend of businesses moving towards a delivery only model – in particular, businesses he had dealt with in his events capacity needing to completely change their business model to survive. From there it just grew and grew.”
Farr Out were lucky enough to benefit from early support from Sustrans’s Edinburgh Cargo Bike Library. They supplied bikes to test out the concept.
The three men also managed to get an Urban Arrow on long-term loan from Laid Back Bikes.
Since then, they’ve made a successful application to the Energy Savings Trust E-Cargo Bike Research Project, which aims to highlight the benefits and viability of sustainable transport options.
“Our Bullitt, from this scheme, is on order from Larry vs Harry and we are very excited about it,” said Squire.
“As a new company we’ve been ineligible for the other schemes, such as the Energy Savings Trust E-Bike Business Loan and others. These are more focused on replacing ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles and fleets already in operation.
“From our experience, the loans and grants need to be far better resourced and more widely available. The prices of e-cargo bikes are getting higher and higher and these schemes are a vital part of making them – and electric bikes generally – more easily accessible and allowing people to see how awesome cargo bike life is.”
How’s it going?
So far, the project has been a big success.
“Getting locally made products from local shops to their receptive local customers – it was a total hit and we quickly realised the potential in the idea,” said Squire.
“[It has] the potential to help transform our city for the better, replace polluting vehicles on the road, make a real difference and change people’s outdated perceptions about what is possible on two wheels.
“[We’re] showcasing the e-cargo bike as having a revolutionary potential to create a more sustainable future. Its rad to be a visible face of change on the streets on a daily basis.”
Farr Out operate with a cooperative style structure. Squire and Fitzhowle have since welcomed more friends out of work from the events industry, as well as experienced couriers, seasonal workers, students and recent post-grads who have come out of university looking for something exciting to do in a challenging job market.
Squire describes Farr Out as “an expanding team of seven” with five e-cargo bikes currently at their disposal.
“We’re getting busier and busier and trying to do more and more, in the right way,” he said. “We’ve been welcoming more riders into the fold and working with more and more cool local companies.
“The list of things we deliver now is getting extensive: beer, coffee, bread, cakes, pastries, books, art and art supplies, gifts, yoga equipment, cocktails, donuts, donuts, donuts – the versatility of the bikes (and our riders) is mad.”
Farr Out riders have even been known to goods such as a sofa and a life-size plastic gorilla.
“Cargo bikes are still somewhat of a novelty in Edinburgh so we get a lot of astonished (funny) faces [when we’re] riding around, and lots of excited people coming up to us in the street interested in the bikes,” said Squire.
“The first question is almost always, ‘Is it electric?’ We like extolling the benefits of the bikes to people and pointing them in the direction of local bike suppliers or how to get more info. The look on people’s faces when they realise the potential it could have for their small business or personal life is always a satisfactory reward.”
While Farr Out was founded during a unique set of circumstances, Squire is optimistic about the future.
“To help out local businesses and charities is why we started making deliveries,” he said. “Our goal is to work with as many local independent businesses as possible to create a sustainable transport link between them and their customers.
“The reaction we’ve had from the local business community has been inspiring. Proving a concept and convincing people can sometimes be tough, but the awesome people that own the businesses we work with have been so receptive and supportive of what we’re doing. A lot of them get it straight away. This keeps us going for sure.”
Have you or your business made the switch to an electric vehicle or vehicles of some kind? Maybe you’ve sold your car and you’re taking the kids to school on an e-bike these days. Maybe your firm has started doing all its deliveries by e-cargo bike. Whatever your story, we’d love to hear from you. Email us at info at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know how it’s gone.