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Supermarket giant had initially said "health & safety" meant he couldn't take bike with him...

Supermarket giant Tesco has said that Brompton folding bikes are welcome in its stores - just a day after telling a cyclist who had questioned on Twitter why he had been asked to leave a Tesco Express convenience stores since he was carrying one that it was due to “health & safety.”

The u-turn follows a Twitter exchange yesterday between cyclist Ben Bawden, who has the user name @HushLegs on the social network, and the grocery retailer’s official account, which attracted comments from others, some pointing out that other wheeled forms of transport, such as push chairs, were allowed.

The incident happened yesterday at a Tesco Express store by Epsom station in Surrey.

The store provides shoppers with baskets rather than trolleys, and Ben told road.cc: “When I only want to get a few bits I like to whizz to the shops on the Brompton as it's so convenient – I can wheel it round if it's quiet or fold it up apart from the handlebars and use it as a shopping trolley.

“I've done this several times over the last 18 months at the Tesco, and never had a problem.”

Or rather, he didn’t until, “A few weeks ago, the security guard at the Tesco told me they weren't allowed, but didn't seem too sure so let me finish my shop.”

Which leads on to the incident that sparked the exchange on Twitter.

“Yesterday, the same guard was adamant that I wasn't allowed to bring it in, even if it was folded,” said Ben.

“I argued about it, and he just said it was ‘Tesco policy’. While we were discussing it, someone came in with a double buggy, and someone else came in with a wheeled suitcase, both of which are bigger than the Brompton.

“He wouldn't budge, and said I would have to leave the store if I didn't comply. He did suggest I locked it outside, but there are no bike racks by the Tesco, and in any case I hadn't brought my lock.

“In the end he let me leave it leant up by the door, which he said he was being 'lenient' letting me do. He refused to stay near it to keep an eye on it, so I was worried someone would grab it when my back was turned, but it was OK.

"When I got home, I tweeted about it to Tesco. Their only explanation was that a bicycle was ‘a mode of transport’ which apparently magically makes it a higher risk than other wheeled objects of similar size!

"I don't blame the security guard much – he's just applying the policy as he's been told it, but it is stupid,” he added.

Yesterday, he tweeted: "Asked to leave @Tesco because of my Brompton. Why? "policy" At same time, someone wheeled suitcase through, taking more room. That's ok tho."

In a reply from Tesco's official account that has subsequently been deleted, a customer service representative told him: "I'm sorry about this. Due to health & safety bikes are not allowed in store, regardless if they are foldable. Thanks - Luciano."

Subsequent tweets from Tesco, also deleted, said: "There is not the same risk with a luggage case. I hope this helps" and "As we explained as it is a method of transport, it causes a risk. Our stores provide bike stands outside."

But this afternoon, shortly after road.cc had contacted Tesco to seek clarification of their policy towards folding bikes, they tweeted:

It's unclear whether that extends to other types of folding bikes, and we are awaiting a reply to our enquiry on the issue.

Some who chipped in on yesterday's conversation pointed out that they had been allowed to take a Brompton – as well as non-folding bikes – into stores – with one saying that mobility scooters were permitted, too.

One cyclist mentioned that he had encountered no such problems when visiting rival supermarket chains.

Another said he had experienced no issue taking his bike into Tesco, but had at Sainsbury’s, suggesting that any “policy” is perhaps down to the whim of local staff.

Finally, some could not resist highlighting examples of poor driving by Tesco drivers such as illegally using a hand-held device at the wheel, or parking in a cycle lane.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

25 comments

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SevenHills [243 posts] 1 year ago
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I'm not sure deleting tweets is the same as backing down. They have not sid that he can take his folded up Brompton in to the store.

 

Every little helps eh?

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SevenHills [243 posts] 1 year ago
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D'OH! Just read the first line of the updated article. I'm crap ignore me !

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Chris [164 posts] 1 year ago
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HushLegs. Great twitter handle.

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HalfWheeler [667 posts] 1 year ago
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swldxer [84 posts] 1 year ago
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The WHS store that banned me has closed down.
Shame.

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Dr_Lex [464 posts] 1 year ago
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I amuse the early shift in Morrisons by shouldering my bike and taking it around the store.

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srchar [706 posts] 1 year ago
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I was asked to take my bike outside at Tesco in Hertford as "the wheels will make the floor dirty". I offered to shoulder it, but was told that "dirt will still fall off the wheels". I asked if I should take my shoes off as well, but the security guard didn't get the joke.

Nothing to do with Health & Safety, everything to do with the bigoted person employed to provide "security" that day. We are talking about my Sunday Best steed here, not a post-race CX bike.

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crazy-legs [944 posts] 1 year ago
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Ah yes, the good old "Helf n Safety" catch all which usually translates as "I can't think of a decent reason but I'm going to be a total jobsworth about it anyway" or sometimes "we don't want you doing [x] but we don't really know why not".

Sometimes you can get round it by asking to see the specific Risk Assessment where bikes have been deemed a dreadful threat to the store but trolleys, pushchairs, wheelchairs are all OK - they realise then that they're being utterly stupid.

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bikebot [2119 posts] 1 year ago
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I don't know how universal this is, but I've taken a bike (full size) into Co-op stores in London for years without anyone complaining.  Always lock up outside if there are more than a handful of customers, but would regularly do that late in the evening for the pint of milk or whatever it was.  The Tesco Express on the other hand forbids it and they don't seem to have any staff discretion.

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bngeeza [3 posts] 1 year ago
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delt with this before.. from both sides.. the health and safety issue is down to blocking fire escapes with 'anything' people wont drop in a emegency and may cause a block, crush or fall.. now that we have pushchairs like sofa's, 4x4 mobility chairs... now ether they just dont want us to win the race t the door...  or this all needs a re-think, what if my bike is my mobility device?? discrimination?? eh! eh!  

 

 

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PeterF [1 post] 1 year ago
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It doesn't seem like it was a possibility in this case, but I often put my folded Brompton in a large trolley and do my shopping. It's easier to handle and have never had objections from staff.

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pakennedy [183 posts] 1 year ago
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I contract for a company that contacts for the company that manages and maintains the Tesco fleet. I regularly move their vans around between stores (keeping that large a folder going necessitates moving a lot of spare vans around).

My somewhat large touring bike (railway stations to and from stores and depots since it's quicker and more fun) regularly goes through their stores without comment although 1 security guard at Cosham can be a stroppy jobsworth.

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HalfWheeler [667 posts] 1 year ago
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pakennedy wrote:

I contract for a company that contacts for the company that manages and maintains the Tesco fleet. I regularly move their vans around between stores (keeping that large a folder going necessitates moving a lot of spare vans around). My somewhat large touring bike (railway stations to and from stores and depots since it's quicker and more fun) regularly goes through their stores without comment although 1 security guard at Cosham can be a stroppy jobsworth.

 

That first paragraph is making my head spin. The second paragraph less so...

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Peowpeowpeowlasers [547 posts] 1 year ago
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I take my bike in small supermarkets all the time, never had an issue.  I usually leave it leaning on the end of an aisle while I find the usual drinks and flapjacks.  As long as you smile and apologise if it looks as though it's in someone's way, there's no issue.

I suspect the security guard was just being an idiot.

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cqexbesd [100 posts] 1 year ago
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I have got told off for wheeling my bike into a B&Q whilst they where playing an announcement saying it was sometimes necessary for them to operate fork lift trucks inside.

A year or so later they did get bike parking of a sort though.

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hawkinspeter [1134 posts] 1 year ago
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Many years ago, I used to wheel my unicycle into Asda and ask the tobacco counter people if they could look after it while I shopped and it was never a problem (unicycles are much easier to stow away than bikes). With bikes, I think it's down to how sweetly you smile at the staff and how politely you ask them.

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Pub bike [252 posts] 1 year ago
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Not sure this is really about health and safety.  Isn't this just about bikes being dirty in general and can come into contact with other customers' clothing, who might then make Tesco liable?  Same thing with using bags for bikes on trains because they can make seats and customers' clothes dirty.  

Whilst tyres are dirty because they are in contact with the road, the drivetrain will usually have oil on it that is extremely difficult to remove from clothing, and few bikes have fully enclosed chaincases or completely clean drivetrains.

Suitcases, pushchairs and supermarket trolleys on the other hand don't have drivetrains so don't have this problem, and their wheels are small.

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horizontal dropout [299 posts] 1 year ago
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Pub bike wrote:

Not sure this is really about health and safety.  Isn't this just about bikes being dirty in general and can come into contact with other customers' clothing, who might then make Tesco liable?  Same thing with using bags for bikes on trains because they can make seats and customers' clothes dirty.  

Whilst tyres are dirty because they are in contact with the road, the drivetrain will usually have oil on it that is extremely difficult to remove from clothing, and few bikes have fully enclosed chaincases or completely clean drivetrains.

In the specific case of Bromptons, they fold so the drive train is protected between folded parts and they roll on casters which are on top of the rack or rear mudguard when the bike is folded. They do have one or two sharp bits, particularly the corners of the hinge plates which are exposed when folded which could cause damage to legs or clothing.

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brooksby [2705 posts] 1 year ago
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cqexbesd wrote:

I have got told off for wheeling my bike into a B&Q whilst they where playing an announcement saying it was sometimes necessary for them to operate fork lift trucks inside.

A year or so later they did get bike parking of a sort though.

B&Q, with their fifteen foot wide aisles and rubberised concrete floors? Worried about an ickle bicycle? Ha!

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LastBoyScout [332 posts] 1 year ago
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Would never have occurred to me to take any of my bikes into a store that wasn't a bike shop.

Closest I've come is to park it just inside the door, with staff permission, to collect an order.

Certainly wouldn't wheel it round while I'm shopping - that just strikes me as being bloody minded and I'm on the side of the shops on this one.

Yes, you can take mobility scooters, push chairs, trolleys, etc, but they aren't likely to fall over on top of a display or a child and don't have exposed dirty chains and sharp bits.

To those who put a folded Brompton in a shopping trolley - I'd put you up there with those parents that put kids in the trolleys. That's where I put my shopping - I don't want the muck off shoes or tyres/chains where I'm going to put my food, thank you.

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vonhelmet [847 posts] 1 year ago
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I've walked my bike round Tesco in the evening on my way home from work.  Staff didn't bat an eyelid, though a guy in motorcycle leathers did make some smartarse comment about bringing his bike in.

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Rapha Nadal [672 posts] 1 year ago
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LastBoyScout wrote:

To those who put a folded Brompton in a shopping trolley - I'd put you up there with those parents that put kids in the trolleys. That's where I put my shopping - I don't want the muck off shoes or tyres/chains where I'm going to put my food, thank you.

Why?  Do you take all of your food out of it's protective packaging/bags prior to placing it in your trolley?

 

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LastBoyScout [332 posts] 1 year ago
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Rapha Nadal wrote:

LastBoyScout wrote:

To those who put a folded Brompton in a shopping trolley - I'd put you up there with those parents that put kids in the trolleys. That's where I put my shopping - I don't want the muck off shoes or tyres/chains where I'm going to put my food, thank you.

Why?  Do you take all of your food out of it's protective packaging/bags prior to placing it in your trolley?

Do you take all of your food out of it's protective packaging/bags prior to placing it in your cupboard/fridge/freezer?

You know, the packaging that's now been in contact with the same trolley your kid's feet/your bike has been in contact with?

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hawkinspeter [1134 posts] 1 year ago
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Rapha Nadal wrote:

LastBoyScout wrote:

To those who put a folded Brompton in a shopping trolley - I'd put you up there with those parents that put kids in the trolleys. That's where I put my shopping - I don't want the muck off shoes or tyres/chains where I'm going to put my food, thank you.

Why?  Do you take all of your food out of it's protective packaging/bags prior to placing it in your trolley?

 

I'm with LastBoyScout - it shows a lack of respect to other shoppers to put dirty shoes/tyres into a trolley designed to hold food. Not all food comes with protective wrappers (e.g. vegetables) and I don't want random shit smeared over my food just because someone else only cares for their own convenience and cares not about anyone else.