Tuesday, 20 October 2009

On milk crates

There was an article in Montreal Gazette today on the whys, the wherefores and the style (or possibly lack thereof) of people who attach milk crates to the back of their bikes.  As my regular readers will know, I am a proponent of this arrangement.  Indeed, as the practice has become more widespread in Montreal since I moved here in 1998, I sometimes wonder how many people I inspired.  Note that I don't claim to have invented the practice, merely that I may have inspired others to do so.

However, I think the article makes too much of the style issue of crates as in my opinion, style is something that needs to be kept as far away from bikes as possible.  A bike is transportation, not a flaming fashion accessory.  Once you start down the path of form over functionality, you get into all kinds of nonsense which ultimately take away from the transport function and bikes become toys.  Once that happens, they then become optional.  One of the reasons bikes fell out of the North American transportation cocktail in the mid 20th century was exactly that.

Also, the article makes it sound like milk crates are there for the taking, when they aren't.  As touched on in the article, they are the property of the milk companies.  The milk companies charge a deposit to stores.  The last time I acquired a crate it was $8.00.  Not a huge expense, but one that means that small businesses aren't about to start giving away milk crates.  To make a long story short: if you want a milk crate, ask politely at your local grocery or d├ępanneur, emphasizing that you are willing to pay the deposit.

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