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Tesco tells cyclist who complained about broken and blocked bike racks outside shop that “working racks are never full” and “not considered high priority”

UPDATE: Tesco has told road.cc that the cycle rack outside the supermarket giant’s Stalham branch will now be repaired, after first being reported as cracked and broken in March 2023

Tesco has been accused of doing “very little” to promote cycling and active travel, after one customer who complained about a bike rack that has been broken and blocked by plants for over a year was told by the supermarket giant that it is “not considered high priority” and that the four remaining spaces that are available to use “are never full”.

However, after road.cc raised the issue with Tesco last week, we have now been told that the company has arranged for the cycle rack to be repaired, “to make it as easy as possible for customers to shop with us and to support the customers who cycle”.

At Tesco’s branch in Stalham, Norfolk, according to images sent to road.cc, the limited bike parking facilities located outside the store include one rack which has been broken and cracked for over a year, while another parking spot is blocked by a large plant rack, forcing customers who cycle to the shop to leave their bikes in front of the plants, and possibly unlocked.

Broken bike racks blocked by plants at Tesco Stalham store, Norwich (image provided)4

The customer who took the photos, who wishes to remain anonymous, claims that the store manager has “refused” to fix the cracked cycle rack, while correspondence with the supermarket giant’s customer services team prompted a similar response, as Tesco noted that the lack of suitable cycling parking facilities was not of immediate concern as a health and safety issue.

In an email discussion with Tesco’s customer service team at the end of June, the cyclist pointed out that he first reported the rack as broken in March 2023, but that it “appears the solution was to break it even further”.

“With 4.6 per cent extra custom and increased profits, I find it odd you can provide the store with a complete brand-new stock of trolleys yet do very little to promote active travel,” the cyclist said.

Broken bike racks blocked by plants at Tesco Stalham store, Norwich (image provided)2

In response, a Tesco customer service specialist said that they “have spoken to the store manager in regards to the bike rack and he will look into this being repaired, but they are waiting on a response from a maintenance team to get back to them.”

“Shouldn’t the bike rack repair have been looked at in March 2023 when it was first reported and not repaired?” the cyclist replied.

Broken bike racks blocked by plants at Tesco Stalham store, Norwich (image provided)3

Later that afternoon, the Tesco spokesperson said that they had spoken to the Stalham branch’s manager, who claimed that “there still are four working bike racks available and these are never full” – a response described by the cyclist as “odd considering I had already sent them photos of the rack full”.

“As I have said this has been reported and is not considered high priority as a Health and Safety issue,” the employee added.

However, after road.cc contacted Tesco for comment, the supermarket giant says it has now arranged for the cycle rack to finally be repaired, while apologising to local cyclists who have been inconvenienced by the delay.

A Tesco spokesperson told road.cc: “We always want to make it as easy as possible for customers to shop with us and to support the customers who cycle to our Stalham Superstore, we have arranged for the cycle rack to be repaired. We apologise for the inconvenience.”

> “All we asked for was support for shoppers who want to be more environmentally friendly and get healthier”: Sainsbury’s refuses request from cycling shoppers for more bike parking facilities

As we have reported on multiple occasions, the lack of suitable bike parking facilities at supermarkets has proved a persistent issue across the UK for the growing number of shoppers using bikes.

Earlier this week, we reported on the live blog that a Milton Keynes branch of Sainsbury’s recently refused a request from bike-riding shoppers to install more cycle parking facilities.

The call for more bike parking at the shop on Avebury Boulevard was initially launched six months ago by campaign group Cycling CitizensMK, who had a meeting with Sainsbury’s management before being told that more bike parking was not part of the store’s plans.

“It’s a great disappointment they’ve said no,” Hazel Dean, one of the campaigners, said this week. “All we asked for was support for shoppers who want to be more environmentally friendly and get healthier in the process.”

Aldi bike racks blocked by grow bags (Simon Colley/Twitter)

> Aldi apologises after bike racks blocked with compost left customer asking "why do you hate cyclists so much?"

In April, Aldi apologised and promised to ensure cycle parking racks are free from supermarket stock in future after one customer found themselves unable to lock their bike due to a pile of compost grow bags outside their local Royston store.

Simon Colley took to social media to raise the issue with the bargain supermarket chain, asking them, “Why do you hate cyclists so much?”

Aldi bike racks blocked by trollies (Simon Colley/Twitter)

The post came just hours after a trip to another branch had seen him unable to use the bicycle parking racks there too, that time due to the area being used to store shopping trollies.

Lidl cycle parking @Matt_Hill_UK/Twitter

Meanwhile, Lidl recently came in for criticism when the cycle racks at one of its London stores were filled with plants and compost for sale.

And last summer, customers at a newly opened Aldi store in Leamington Spa joked that the cycle racks “are definitely middle aisle bike stands” after discovering that they could be quite easily pulled out of the ground.

Aldi's removable bike parking, Leamington Spa (Claire Lucas, Twitter)

> “Those are definitely middle aisle bike stands”: Cyclists raise security fears after discovering that new cycle stands at Aldi entrance can be lifted out of the ground

Having been left red-faced by the ordeal, Aldi quickly rectified the issue and confirmed the works to fix the stands to the ground had been completed shortly after concerns were raised.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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45 comments

Avatar
Viscount Diavolo | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

When the bike rack was blocked at our local supermarket I simply wheeled the bike inside. In fact it made my life easy, using the fastrack scanner and loading the food straight into the panner...

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i-am-furious | 2 weeks ago
4 likes

Unfortunately supermarkets like Tesco, their business model is based around overconsumption and the idea of the 'big shop', by forcing customers into a car-centric lifestyle. This increases waste and therefore profits, and goes hand in hand with eliminating cycling from our lives in the last 50 years. That's why they demolished half our town centres with ginormous car parks and put small locals out of businiess. So I'm not at all surprised that managers at Tesco don't give a second thought about anyone who dares to show up on a bike and get a couple of bits, compared to someone in a huge SUV filling it up with stuff that'll end up in the bin.

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wycombewheeler replied to i-am-furious | 2 weeks ago
4 likes

i-am-furious wrote:

Unfortunately supermarkets like Tesco, their business model is based around overconsumption and the idea of the 'big shop', by forcing customers into a car-centric lifestyle. This increases waste and therefore profits, and goes hand in hand with eliminating cycling from our lives in the last 50 years. That's why they demolished half our town centres with ginormous car parks and put small locals out of businiess. So I'm not at all surprised that managers at Tesco don't give a second thought about anyone who dares to show up on a bike and get a couple of bits, compared to someone in a huge SUV filling it up with stuff that'll end up in the bin.

the USP of the supermarkets used to be pile it high, sell it cheap, using economies of scale to deliver savings, but now I find many products are cheaper in my local corner shop. I don't believe the supermarkets are paying suppliers more, so either they are innefficient or they are exploiting consumers.

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Lozcan | 2 weeks ago
6 likes

Thanks road cc in getting a result.

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RetiredTrucker | 2 weeks ago
2 likes

Another pet hate of mine is that so often bike rack/storage area is not on level ground so it quite difficult to lock your bike without danger of it moving and getting damaged/scratched whilst your in the shop or other place. Certainly our Local Lidl and library suffer from this problem

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brooksby | 2 weeks ago
7 likes

Hmm - so they are announcing that they are very concerned about it and will fix it as a matter of urgency.  A year after it was originally reported, after it turned up in the online media…

Would it be unfair to think that they are only really concerned about their public image? 

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Jon_score | 2 weeks ago
8 likes

Decent, secure, visible bike parking just doesn't really exist.

So, I just take my bike in with me. No one has ever dared to question, despite some evil looks.

If I was challenged, I would ask what difference do my bike wheels make to those present on a trolley, pram or wheelchair? The first case is issued by the store, the second is somewhat discriminatory (though being a minor isn't a protected characteristic, oddly). The last user
certainly does enjoys legal rights!

In short, if you want me to leave £2k of bike outside, ensure I can make good use of the £150 of security I carry around with me.

Ie, appropriate, covered and secure stands, that are accessible, within eyeline of the door and have at least as much security oversight as the car park does.

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Older Cyclist replied to Jon_score | 2 weeks ago
2 likes

Couple of points. Firstly, you quite likely get evil looks because, if it's anything like the shop I work in, customers and staff will have seen bikes left inside full over. This tends not to happen with prams and wheelchairs.

Secondly, the same people whom don't challenge you probably won't challenge anyone else who decides to walk out with the £2k bike, including the £150 of securit.y

 

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HLaB replied to Older Cyclist | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

Whilst my bike never cost anything like  £2k I used to carry it around shops and never got anything but smiles from staff and fellow customers.  Those shops (Aldi et at al) are now rammed and I don't think I'd get the same smiles.  I just walk to the shops these days, its only 10-15mins from my current place.

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Ladders replied to Jon_score | 1 week ago
0 likes

I did that once as I didnt have my bike lock on me, and no bike racks to lock to anyway. The shop assitance was exceptionally rude to me about bringing my bike into the empty Coop as she served me, looked on by an obviously shocked mum with her pram that obviously also has wheels that run outside! Prompting me to email a complaint to their head office, who replied obviously couldnt care or less how their customers are spoken to by staff!

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Sriracha replied to Jon_score | 1 week ago
0 likes
Jon_score wrote:

If I was challenged, I would ask what difference do my bike wheels make to those present on a trolley, pram or wheelchair?

To which you could add every customer's footware as well.

I think the difference is the likely point of contact between the wheel and the shop furniture/shelves etc, together with the height and range of any detritus thrown by the rotating wheel.

The typical bicycle wheel will contact much higher up, well above skirting board height, very likely above the height of the lower shelf. Certainly I would look askance at people putting the soles of their shoes in contact with the food shelves, likewise a bicycle wheel. Anything on the sole of a shoe, or the tread of a bicycle wheel, would be unwelcome deposited on a food shelf.

Trolley and most pushchair and wheelchair wheels, certainly the front ones, are much smaller and would not make contact much above skirting board height, likewise people's shoes. Neither would any spatter thrown by those wheels make it up to shelf height.

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polainm | 2 weeks ago
16 likes

This is but one example of the deep-rooted UK toxicity towards cycling at every level. 

No point talking to store manager, utterly clueless. All these £billion companies publish CSR/ESG reports to greenwash the shareholders and ensure the bull5h1t train is fully loaded and on time. 

So, rip into their CSR/ESG reporting on public forums. Don't hold back. Use their words against them, identify their CSO and copy them in. 

My local Sainsbury's at Coldhsm's Lane, Cambridge is typical on this front, with token cycle parking but at least it's there. 

Their recycling area wasn't though, with overflowing battery waste rolling into the nearby chalk filtered stream. 

I spoke to the manager about this a few years ago, and he was typically dismissive. Maybe it was because I had arrived by bicycle and not Range Rover. He really couldn't have cared less. 

So I told him that as a Circular Economy Consultant I knew the legislation around eWaste and proceeded to take photos to send to the county environmental health officer. I also said I'd be checking this site each week to take dated photos and forward them to both Sainsbury's CSO and environmental health officer. 

It was cleared up. 

Just don't bother with a kind comment to these businesses, they don't care. Just wreck their fake green PR. They do care about this, if not your bicycle security. 

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TreknTrace replied to polainm | 2 weeks ago
9 likes

Thank you for doing that. Appreciate your efforts. 

 

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neilmck replied to polainm | 2 weeks ago
1 like

The manager has to run his store as cheaply as possible and will resist spending money as much as possible. There was one time I was in a DIY store and a bottle leaked acid on my hands. I asked the staff to go to the staff loos to walk my hands and was surprised that they resisted doing this. After insisting that my hands were burning they showed me to the staff loos. They were disgusting, most of the urinals were broken and the toilet cisterns leaking. If the manager hasn't got the money to fix the staff loos, he won't have money for bicycle racks.

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lesterama | 2 weeks ago
7 likes

First thing I'd do if investigating this further would be to look at the planning approval and any conditions for the store. Active travel always needs to be addressed. Unfortunately it's often just done in token fashion.

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Nobski | 2 weeks ago
2 likes

This Stalham store was opened in 2002, possibly prior to then needing a sustainable plan to get permission to build/open the site. But it might be still have been an obligation on them to provide facilities, if they've promised them.  Either way try the Local Authority route saying you have an issue and are hindered by their approach, it's worth a go.. I've used this approach on a newer built local store because the bike racks had been put "around the back" and were a bike thieves dream, they were moved to outside the entrance within a fortnight. 

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Richard Lake | 2 weeks ago
4 likes

I usually avoid big supermarkets if not on my hybrid bike; however out bikepacking last weekend on an evening I just brought my bike completely inside the store and left it in the newspaper area whilst I went and bought a few essentials. Best way in chain supermarkets and local shops; they have 1000s of employees they won't care.

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Jem PT | 2 weeks ago
4 likes

Our local Tescos has no bike racks so I lock my bike to one of their trolley shelters - you can be sure that any damage to that would be fixed immediately 

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ridein | 2 weeks ago
13 likes

, "You are correct sir/madam, you won't see the bike rack full since the the rack is defective and/or broken." 

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levestane | 2 weeks ago
5 likes

My local Booths has decent Sheffield stands. They do tend to be used for trolley storage and to tether dogs to though.

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Solidairs | 2 weeks ago
8 likes

Aldi, Lidl and other supermarkets in Germany have substantial structures for bike parking normally sited close to the store entry/exit doors and often include free e-bike charging points. Not that difficult really.

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Rendel Harris | 2 weeks ago
7 likes

Picture of the store from t'internet: I'd just lock up to the big hoops defining the trolley park, far better than the bike rack provided, cracked, blocked or not. That's what I do at my local Sainsbury's if the bike parking is full, nobody ever complains.

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brooksby replied to Rendel Harris | 2 weeks ago
6 likes

I'd be worried about my bike getting damaged by someone ramming a trolley in there.

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Sriracha replied to Rendel Harris | 2 weeks ago
5 likes

Then your handle bars will be half inside the trolley bay and get clatted by the trolleys. Moreover I doubt those shoving the trolleys would care much - not their trolley, not their bike.

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Rendel Harris replied to Sriracha | 2 weeks ago
6 likes

There's a strategy to it, I lock up at the far end, i.e. on the right of the line in this picture, so that hopefully I'll return before the stock of trolleys starts being replenished, and lean the bike over slightly so the crossbar is nearest the horizontal bar, no part of the bike inside the trolley park area. Never been damaged there yet...

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Simon E replied to Rendel Harris | 2 weeks ago
2 likes

Rendel Harris wrote:

I lock up at the far end, i.e. on the right of the line in this picture, so that hopefully I'll return before the stock of trolleys starts being replenished

I do the same at Aldi & Lidl stores on the occasions I shop there - lock the bike to the end where it won't be disturbed by moving trolleys.

The 2 (new) Aldi stores in Shrewsbury didn't appear to have any bike parking. The Aldi in Bangor opened in 2022 and only has 2 Sheffield-type stands on an island half way across the car park while the Lidl has those dreadful wheel-benders butterfly things. My local Co-Op has ram-raid protection near the front door that are great for securing a bike.

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mattw | 2 weeks ago
1 like

I'm afraid I agree.

A poorly targeted protest.

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quiff | 2 weeks ago
4 likes

"I find it odd you can provide the store with a complete brand-new stock of trolleys yet do very little to promote active travel”

As frustrating as it may be and as supportive as I am of active travel, I don't find this at all odd - what is their incentive to promote active travel?

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giff77 replied to quiff | 2 weeks ago
7 likes

While it may not be high on their agenda a retailer who was making decent provision to encourage cyclists to use their premises would be huge. If I knew that a local store had safe, robust parking then I would be more likely to shop there. Where I last lived Sainsbury's had great parking for about twenty bikes that was covered. Meanwhile Morrison's up the road had three Sheffield Stands with no cover and Tescos had zero. There would be even greater incentive to use a store if they had facilities for cargo bikes or trikes. 

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quiff replied to giff77 | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

I just think that in a lot of places (that there London excepted maybe) it's still a relatively niche customer base which isn't necessarily going to result in massive increase in custom - those cyclists are probably already coming (whether by bike or car). So you need an interested and enlightened store / regional manager to do it because they believe in it, not necessarily because it's going to increase custom. Might be different where you have a choice of different supermarkets in close proximity in which case it's defo a differentiator. 

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