Vélo M2: using a modular cargo bike to find societal challenges and solve them together

Hello Edgeryders community

For almost two years i’m building on a cargo bike project called Vélo M2 that is described as follow:

‘The cargo bike is a great alternative for the car in congested cities; with our stackable modules we give sustainable initiatives endless possibilities. Vélo M² (pronounced Vélo em carree) is a multi modular capsule system fitting on cargo bikes. With our energy platform supplied by solar and pedal power you can have the electricity on location to power an open-air cinema, a mobile fablab and much more on top. We bring all these plans to an open source platform and community where anybody can contribute. Cargo Bikes can be used for more than only transport, with Vélo M2 we give the tools to rethink how we interact, move and use energy.’

Since May 2016 we were funded to do a project called Canal d’Accroche where we use the already designed modules (a cinema module, a mobile fablab and a hookmaking machine) to interact with people in a poor neighborhood and listen to what they need. We see the cargo bike simply as an easy conversation maker, we always have some germed seeds with us that we can put in a flower pot and hang with the hookmaker as a first contact.

In almost two months of weekly activities in the neighborhood we found a neglectec garden that we now opened to public and are going to try to put live in it through other organizations. We also learned that a lot of older men are gathering waiting to be picked up to do small jobs for minimum wage and we are making a coffee module so we can distribute coffee and engage easier in conversations. the final purpose is to bring some local kids between 16 and 20 to make with us in a fablab a new module they would want to use.

This is one way we are designing our cargo bike project but i’m having a lot of trouble building a solid community around or a businessplan that takes care of all our different purposes. At this moment these small grands give us the possibilities to work further on the energy platform and invest in good material. One of our goals is to creat sustainable energy modules that can fix any cargo bike so people would be more found to use them in the city. But because it is a nich we have difficulties to reach out. Another task we gave ourself is to repurpose lost public space through temporary use. Thus the cargo bike with our own energy gives us the easiness to go almost anywhere and do that, but behind it there is a difficulty of logistic, having a place where we can put the cargo bike and the modules opened 24/7 close to our working station (not open 24/7) is difficult in a city.

what i would love to discuss with all you from edgeryders is what do you think about the general project, what could be improved on the communication level and what ideas come to mind when you here about something like that. I thank you in advance!


Business opportunities

I like the Vélo M2 and have long been a cargobike fan … esp. the M55 design you have there :slight_smile: Funding for social and cultural activities is notoriously hard to obtain, so maybe cross-fund these activities by selling your cargo bike modules? The following ideas come to mind right now:

  • Energy module for street musicians; maybe it makes sense to also have a module with electricity and integrated speakers for them.
  • Phone charging module for refugee camps; probably NGOs would buy the modules and provide them to refugee micro-entrepreneurs in the camps. I heard that at one point at the height of the migration last year, refugees were charged 5 EUR in Lesbos to have their mobile charged …
  • A module for projects like  Bangladesh Infoladies (basically personalized Internet and media services by women on bicycles). Again, the NGOs would purchase the modules, or more probably, would contract you to develop a module and release the plans as open designs.
  • There are cargo bike based development projects, for example  Portal Bikes in Kathmandu, Nepal. Again, they might want to pay you for developing specialized cargo bike modules (more high-tech than the ones they can develop locally). Street vending modules, food stall modules etc..

Not sure if this is good business advice … I’m notoriously bad at that :stuck_out_tongue: But maybe it includes an inspiration somewhere.

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Food delivery?

My first thought was to sell modules for keeping things warm during delivery.

Or anything that contributes to greening traditional industries - which have money and are also in highly competitive markets so cool stuff can get their attention because they would be able to distinguish themselves from competitors.

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Great project!

But, should probably be in the Agora group, not in the blog?

Also ping @Patrick_Andrews , he has experience with Riversimple (hydrogen cars).

I like it

the experience with Riversimple has been - find like-minded people who get your vision, inspire them to engage, support, invest in and with you, and keep working on the project determinedly for 15 years…  Not an easily replicable model!

Who might be your partners? Could you find commercial firms (airports??  warehouse operators?) who can see the potential to save themselves money. Identifying customers does wonders for a business plan!  Think what problem you are trying to solve.

Sorry if that’s not much help. WIshing you lots of luck.

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