Have you ever dreamt of a world where there are no more cars in the city centre and where bikes are the only means of transport for people and goods? This is exactly what the cooperative, Toutenvélo, is actually doing and it is transforming this dream into reality, one bike at a time.
Toutenvélo is a worker cooperative of bike couriers specialized in urban logistics. Riding their bikes, the members deliver 500 parcels every day for big customers such as DHL, Ciblex, Géport, as well as local companies for which the cooperative provides a mail shuttle service. As well as providing delivery and courier services, the cooperative is also specialized in the manufacture and design of trailers and the provision of support and training around clean urban logistics concepts.
The cooperative was born in Rennes in 2012, thanks to the experience gained by one of its co-founders during an internship in Montreal. Whilst in Canada, the co-founder witnessed the potential of using bikes to move things around a city and decided to introduce France to this concept. His intention was to show people the transport capabilities of a bike in cities where there are problems related to traffic, pollution and parking.
Since its creation 10 years ago, Toutenvélo has never stopped growing and diversifying, tripling its workforce at the national level. Today, in Rennes, Toutenvélo employs eight workers, of which seven are worker members, and is also present in a further four French towns, providing jobs for around 20 workers.
The development of a network of Toutenvélo has been possible thanks to the application of a "freechise" system, the equivalent of a franchise but with a social connotation. A “freechise” does not have admittance fees or license fees based on the turnover of each organisation. The idea is to establish independent structures with the same name, thereby providing a collective tool to other partners and other project developers. In itself, this is a very cooperative approach.
As part of a wider urban renewal project launched by the city of Rennes, since 2017 the cooperative has also been offering a free bulky waste collection service on behalf of the municipality. The cooperative’s ecology-friendly approach is what has ensured a successful collaboration with the city of Rennes, since the cooperative provides an alternative and ecological solution to the town’s mobility needs. In fact, the electric bikes used for making deliveries also contribute to reducing the noise and the traffic in the city. The fact that this enterprise is a cooperative is seen as an added value by the municipality, explains Matthieu Theurier, vice-president of the city of Rennes for the social and solidarity economy.
“The choice to be a cooperative comes from its founders’ interest in building a democratic project where everyone is involved at the same level and has the same influence on the decisions taken within the cooperative”, says Olivier, a worker member of the cooperative.
“The cooperative is a project where you share life, profits, good and bad news. All employees are expected to become members of the company after two years, so commitment is important. In the cooperative, you will primarily be a delivery rider, it is our core business, but you will also be a cooperator. You will be able to give your opinion, share your ideas and evolve in the structure by contributing and developing your skills”, states a recruitment post on Toutenvélo Facebook page.
Tout en vélo is affiliated to the French General Confederation of Cooperatives (CGScop), which supports the creation and development of worker cooperatives and social cooperatives in France. CGScop is one of the founding members of CECOP.