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Shopping Cart Bicycle Trailers 12

Shopping Cart Bicycle Trailer

Photos by James D. Schwartz / The Urban Country

I frequently pass by these homemade shopping cart bicycle trailers here in Toronto. What a great way to recycle old shopping carts, while increasing the load capacity on your bicycle at a very low cost.

These particular bike trailers were spotted at Bathurst and Richmond – in front of a bike shop called “Cyclemotive”. I haven’t actually been inside this store, since I have no interest in looking at racing bikes that probably cost as much as a BMW. I’m not even sure if these bike trailers have anything to do with the store or not either.

Nonetheless, this is the type of recycling that you would normally see in developing countries like China. The Chinese have a knack for turning old junk into useful objects. They waste very little because there is always an entrepreneur out there who can build something useful out of another man’s trash.

It’s great to see this type of simple pragmatic innovation in Canada.

Shopping Cart Bicycle Trailer

Shopping Cart Bicycle Trailer


If you are interested in building your own utility trailer, a good website that specializes in this is Tony’s Trailers. Tony’s provides do-it-yourself videos and instructions for homemade trailers, and he also sells pre-built trailers – from mobile shelters, to kayak trailers, to vehicles for the disabled.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any space to store a large utility trailer, so I will stick to my rack and pannier bags.

James D. Schwartz is the editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at

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12 thoughts on “Shopping Cart Bicycle Trailers

  1. kfg Jan 15,2011 8:43 pm

    Well, I’ll take the curmudgeonly side again and point out that:

    A) This is a shopping cart that is still in use. Hence it hasn’t been recycled.

    Wearing rags isn’t recycling. Making rag paper is.

    B) Shopping carts are rather expensive and don’t wear out, so shopping cart trailers actually represent a social problem.

  2. PaddyAnne Jan 15,2011 9:31 pm

    Since those Safeway carts have already been made, and as Safeway is in the process of “changing over” their carts to other ones, I think the bike carts made from them are great! They are deep and yet have a high clearance. Really quite useful!

  3. James D. Schwartz Jan 15,2011 10:56 pm

    @kfg – The wheels on shopping carts wear out, the baskets start to rust and get old. I think you would agree that re-purposing them as bicycle trailers is better than sending them to landfills.

  4. kfg Jan 15,2011 11:46 pm

    “The wheels on shopping carts wear out”

    As do the tires on my bicycles, but I do not dispose of them because of that.

    “the baskets start to rust and get old”

    As do many bicycle frames. I find them and fix them and they often see decades of continued service. There are steps, however, which are neither time consuming nor expensive to prevent them from getting old and rusty for many, many decades in the first place.

    “re-purposing them as bicycle trailers is better than sending them to landfills.”

    Indeed, and so long as the baskets were acquired legitimately I can even applaud the practice. Another possibility would be to recycle them as bicycles.

  5. Todd Jan 16,2011 4:28 am

    I really like these. I seem to recall Chocosol using a similarly designed trailer. I’ve seen a couple of ‘bakfiets’ made in a simliar way:

  6. Alexwarrior Jan 16,2011 7:32 pm

    Neat idea, I’d never seen one of these before.

  7. soybomb Apr 26,2011 3:15 am

    Hey! i made those trailers!
    search facebook for soybomb, or “toronto’s food not bombs” or me “jason wydra” to learn more. the carts were abandoned carts from local alleyways that were missing wheels or what not. recently did a skill-share showing hoe to make them:
    and will be doing another maybe at the end of may or early june, if you join the FNB facebook group, i’ll be making the event from there, and posting the video from the skillshare there when it is edited. As for KFG’s comment on the maintanence and perpetual use of said shopping carts, i wish it were so, but the waste of this society is of epidemic proportions. “new” shopping carts “improve” a shopping outlets image, and the old carts are discarded. it would be great to have an “upcycling” program in place so that community groups could engage in making these things. They further increase one’s Independence from gasoline use, especially for short local trips. and they’re a lot of fun too!

  8. James D. Schwartz Apr 26,2011 3:28 am

    Jason, thanks for dropping in here. Cool that you found this article featuring your neat home-made trailers. I’ve joined the Facebook group, so I’ll have to try to make it out next time you have a DIY session. Cheers! James

  9. balers Jul 9,2011 11:03 am

    Other features include customized taxing options for adding tax rates for purchases made from various countries, the ability to send out newsletters, and support for different currencies.

  10. Perfume May 25,2012 12:31 pm

    Informative post. You have made really some good points in this post. I appreciate your writing skills. Its good. Keep it up.

  11. Dakota Apr 8,2013 5:01 am

    I have a shopping cart trailer. And it has already paid for itself

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