Friday, June 4, 2010

Shopping Carts and Urban Living

As recently reported at, a site about sustainable urban mobility, the Sydney, Australia city council recently denied an urban supermarket the ability to provide it's customers with shopping carts (or as they call them: trolleys).

From this article from down under, the city council "...approved a development application last September for a small local supermarket with no trolleys, but six months later the developer wanted to change it to include trolleys." The city council denied this request and the market will remain trolley-free. Apparently part of what the city council was aiming for when they approved this urban supermarket was to provide a place to shop for city dwellers without increasing the amount of automobile traffic in the already congested area. Similar to how markets used to work in cities before cars, I believe the idea was that people would make a quick stop by the local market on foot a few times a week to pick up the goods they needed for just the next few days. Here's a quote from article:
"Labor councillor Dr Meredith Burgmann says the decision was based on maintaining traffic levels in the area.
She says she has never received so many emails and letters from residents concerned about the impact of trolleys.
"It does have to remain a local drop-in-as-you're-walking-along-the-street supermarket," she said."
The Sydney Morning Herald also reported on this, prior to the city council's decision upholding the trolley ban:
"The Friends of Erskineville [the village where the supermarket is] warns that trolleys are a gateway conveyance that will hook shoppers on the car habit. ''Without wanting to sound like the League of Gentlemen, no trolleys restricts the amount of people who will drive so it's only local people, on foot, not people driving to the site,'' the group's spokesman, Brett Mason, said."
These Friends of Erskineville seem to be a pretty dedicated bunch of individuals, interested in promoting livability and sustainability in their own neighborhood. The stance against shopping carts is rather interesting and I'm not sure if this issue has ever been discussed in America. I'm not advocating that shopping carts be banned or the use of them curtailed, but it's worthwhile to think about the connection between our current infrastructure and our lifestyle. Banning shopping carts at the IGA in Erskineville is a small act, but it is a solution that make sense and seems to be popular with the people it affects on a daily basis.

1 comment:

  1. i'm an australian wearer of a 'keep portland weird' t-shirt which i found in an op shop in sydney and couldn't resist buying it because we have a little village near my town, full of interesting individuals, called portland. but erskineville is my second home when i'm in sydney and my friend BM was at the centre of this supermarket campaign. it's good to see him getting some acknowledgment for all that work. keep erko weird!



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