Stores Ditch Shopping Carts to Discourage Vehicle Use
Shopping carts make us buy more stuff than we can carry home. Photo by foreverdigital.

Shopping carts make us buy more stuff than we can carry home. Photo by foreverdigital.

The Sydney City Council voted on Wednesday to ban trolleys (shopping carts) at a local market, citing shoppers’ propensity to load up carts with far more food than they can carry, and then rely on a car to get home.

The City Council is promoting “drop-in-as-you-walk” supermarkets, starting with the new market on Erskineville Road in the west of the city.  Customers are encouraged to shop with small hand-held baskets or reusable bags from home. The plan intends to discourage large purchases, which will help ensure that people walk or bike home.

Banning shopping carts is one way to prevent traffic congestion around new shopping locales.

But in order for the ban to be truly effective, it would need to be complemented by transit-oriented development, in which neighborhoods were built around bus, rail or metro stations so that people can easily access retail and office locations without their cars. It would also require building smaller shopping centers without huge parking lots or garages to entice car drivers – downsizing retail shops might lead to improved traffic and pedestrian safety, as we’ve reported in our previous post about the dangers of “strip malls and big box stores.” Reducing the reliance on cars would also increase accessibility to healthier food, especially for poorer communities, which are often victims of “food deserts.”

What do you think? Do you know about a shopping cart ban in your neighborhood? Does it work?

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  • http://twitter.com/MyWebGrocer MyWebGrocer

    Good for #environment. Bad news for #retail. Sydney, City bans #shopping carts to prevent #traffic congestion at locales. http://ht.ly/1VRik

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12818757194703241935 Dustin

    This is the comment I left over at The City Fix concerning Sydney’s shopping-cart ban.

    =====

    Here’s an idea: ban the parking lot instead!

    I live in Washington, D.C. My wife and I make large purchases from the grocery store all the time. And not once have we driven to the grocery stores in our neighborhood. That’s right — never in our married lives have we driven to do our grocery shopping. We have a collapsible shopping cart that works quite well.

    In fact, I was surprised to find out a few months ago that a grocery store a few blocks from our apartment actually has a parking garage. I didn’t know. I’ve never seen it, and it never occurred to me that there would actually be a parking garage there.

    This comment was originally posted on The Overhead Wire

  • Dustin

    Here’s an idea: ban the parking lot instead!

    I live in Washington, D.C. My wife and I make large purchases from the grocery store all the time. And not once have we driven to the grocery stores in our neighborhood. That’s right — never in our married lives have we driven to do our grocery shopping. We have a collapsible shopping cart that works quite well.

    In fact, I was surprised to find out a few months ago that a grocery store a few blocks from our apartment actually has a parking garage. I didn’t know. I’ve never seen it, and it never occurred to me that there would actually be a parking garage there.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18289893559555812236 Matt Fisher

    Oh yes. It can be tougher if you do have a large family. At least I won’t have one like in "Cheaper by the Dozen".

    This comment was originally posted on The Overhead Wire

  • Eric L

    When I lived 3 blocks from a grocery store, I always made a point of using a handbasket so that I would feel it get heavy and not buy more than I’d want to carry back. But it seems silly for the store to make that choice for me — once I’m at the grocery store, I’ve already made the decision on whether I’m getting back by car, bike, or foot/transit.

    This comment was originally posted on The Overhead Wire

  • Rodger James Sillars

    Interesting Concept! While I and my wife do our weekly shopping with up to three canvass bags (LLBEAN) and can handle the load with our preference for glass containers (gallon of milk) etc. The load is heavy and would be a real challenge to some. Our home is over 2 miles away and the walk on arterial streets is unpleasant and the interval of bus service makes coordination challenging so the bags generally get carried upstairs to the parking lot for the drive home.

    I find this approach much easier and after some breaking in the store staff accepts my approach.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06394805356595604336 arcady

    Even in NYC, where supermarkets generally have no parking at all, they have shopping carts. You bring your own collapsible cart to haul the groceries home and hang it on the front of the store cart, which is more convenient for shopping. When you buy your stuff, you transfer it from the store cart to your own cart. Or you can get a supermarket employee to deliver it to your home on a special cart designed for that, for a small fee. So I think banning carts is a silly idea.

    This comment was originally posted on The Overhead Wire

  • anonymouse

    Even in NYC, where supermarkets generally have no parking at all, they have shopping carts. You bring your own collapsible cart to haul the groceries home and hang it on the front of the store cart, which is more convenient for shopping. When you buy your stuff, you transfer it from the store cart to your own cart. Or you can get a supermarket employee to deliver it to your home on a special cart designed for that, for a small fee. So I think banning carts is a silly idea.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15388615060405992105 John

    Getting rid of carts seems like a sure way to discourage families from shopping at a store.

    I usually go to a small local ethnic grocery once a week to get most of my shopping needs done. I was previously able to carry everything I bought in one very full basket. However, once I had a son, I could no longer carry him and the groceries. The cart is a necessity to hold him while I shop.

    If I were to walk to a store (the one I described is beyond walking distance) with a stroller for my son, I could manage some groceries, but it’s very difficult to push a stroller with one hand and carry a basket with another. I’d have to use a backpack or hang bags off the handles of the stroller as I go.

    All of this doesn’t even discuss the impact of having a bigger family that needs more good than can be realistically carried or the elderly or disabled who can’t carry things well. Really this just seems like over-regulation by the government that will make people’s lives more difficult.

    This comment was originally posted on The Overhead Wire

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08932681431128792007 joshuadf

    I have a family of 4 and we typically shop on foot or with a stroller (we live about 6 blocks from the grocery store, and even closer to the farmer’s market). We also often order certain non-fresh things online like bulk organic dried fruit.

    Shopping carts are rare in Japan, too. The US has something like 6X the retail sq footage per capita as the typical European country, and I’d bet most of it is car-oriented big box stores that rely on volume of sales. It’s absolutely true to that small stores with good locations have slightly higher prices, but when you factor in transportation time/cost for the big box stores it’s worth it.

    This comment was originally posted on The Overhead Wire

  • http://twitter.com/jasontsang jasontsang

    Stores in Sydney Australia Ditch Shopping Carts to Discourage Vehicle Use http://bit.ly/diyOQG

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16391225482937602238 Brent

    In my limited European experience — I lived just nine months in France — I had the impression that the typical grocery shopper visited the store more and bought less. On the way home from work, for example, the commuter might drop in to buy some green beans and fish for dinner. The refrigerators were smaller, too, so the concept of stocking up once weekly didn’t make much sense.

    This comment was originally posted on The Overhead Wire

  • tebici

    I’m all about walking and I typically use a handheld cart for just that reason but I’m 28. What about the little old ladies? I guess people can bring their own “granny carts”. There are also smaller shopping carts that are used in urban grocers that have two trays each about the size of a handheld baskets.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18289893559555812236 Matt Fisher

    "While the subways in New York are crushed, if you limited traffic and gave buses and bikes some lanes, you might find that transit service could improve and people could get around the city just fine without their cars."

    Yes, I like rail, but here in Ottawa, OC Transpo runs a very good transit service without rail, and people in Ottawa can get around just as fine. Ottawa’s Transitway should be fully converted to light rail everywhere, but it’s a bad idea to discount buses fully.

    Also, Ottawa have the most extensive network of recreational pathways in any major North American city, and the pathways are just as good as the Transitway, even if it involves appropriating former rail lines (in both cases).

    So, instead of bitching and moaning about what we have, we should accept it because I believe in working with what we’ve already got. Complaining only goes nowhere.

    This comment was originally posted on The Overhead Wire

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  • http://wiggling.wordpress.com/ david

    I try not to use carts so I do not buy too much. If it is too much to carry then it is more than I need to take home. Banning carts seems to go to far. Taxing carts (charging for carts) seems like a more reasonable step. Many cities already are taxing plastic bags. Another option is charging for parking, which I suggested to much displeasure for our local market.

  • http://twitter.com/Britney_Spears1 Britney_Spears1

    Stores Ditch Shopping Carts to Discourage Vehicle Use: http://url4.eu/41ccq

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • Pippa

    I think its a great idea. It also encourages people to walk! – which is always a good thing.