HotBlack Desiato - Whats it like being an Ourbike host?

HotBlack Desiato - Whats it like being an Ourbike host?
Published: 30-Jan-2024
Article By: Merissa Lam

We recently interviewed Alistair from Hotblack Desiato estate agents in Highbury to learn more about his experience as an OurBike host. Here's what he shared with us.


Why were you interested in becoming an OurBike host?

Firstly because we're in the middle of a climate crisis; we are very interested in getting to the places that we want to get to in a clearly manageable timescale. I started cycling myself about ten years ago. It took me a while to get there because it was quite daunting. I live south of the river. I work up here in Highbury so I can get to work a in half an hour on the bike, which would take me about 2 hours in a car and longer on public transport, with increasingly more changes and waiting around for them to arrive. So for me personally, cycling is a great way of getting around town.

Hosting OurBike enables us to integrate with the community especially when people hire the bike and bring it back. It also enables us to navigate the low traffic neighbourhoods without any problems, parking charges, delays and all the rest of it. If we need to transport anything, that huge carrying section at the front is really handy. We've used it to move computer bits and pieces around and we've helped people when they move houses with boxes and stuff that they've forgotten.


What are the advantages of hosting OurBike for your business?

We love it as a business. We feel it espouses the values that we have as a firm. We see ourselves very much as the local village shop of estate agents. We're not interested in brash, shiny corporate messaging. We're very much people who want to support healthy and effective travel in the local area. We find that our bike is useful for us. Obviously, the branding down the side of the bike is a great advert. Illustrates that we care about the local community and that there are systems in place to enable people to overcome some of the challenges they might have had before.

If you don't own a car. It's often very difficult to transport large and bulky items. Once you get used to the OurBike, it's quite a nice way of getting around. And we find with the electric assist, it's much, much easier than you might think it is. You can get on it and move anything up to the size of a washing machine pretty effectively between properties without having to worry about getting parking tickets and fines for going through low traffic neighbourhoods.


How long have you been a host and how's your experience?

We were approached in early 2023 about hosting, and immediately we thought it was a fantastic idea. We have always been great supporters of people cycling, so the idea of combining that with actually being able to use it as a business tool to transport goods around the place was something which we jumped at.

There's a huge perception of estate agency. It's one of the trades where people are very quick to have a stereotype, which generally probably involves cheap suits, branded cars, driving around and fairly sort of alpha, aggressive behaviour. At Hotblack Desiato, we are the complete antithesis of that.

We're very much a firm who wants to embed ourselves in the local community. Most of our clients, most of the properties that we sell or let are people that have bought through us before, sold through us before. We've taken care of their flats since they first bought them 20 years ago, and we're still taking care of them today. So for us, the values that Our Bike has, are very much community focused, like ourselves. 


Tell us about the impact of OurBike on the community and what the future may hold?

I think the key to OurBike and to cycling full stop in London, is suck it and see. Once you try these things once, you will use them again and again and again. It is healthy, it is very affordable, it is practical, it lowers your blood pressure. You don't have to cycle through bus lanes, down main roads. People are cycling through Highbury fields, largely pedestrianised now anyway. Very, very few cars. They're not used as rat runs in the same ways that they are. And people find that once they've tried it, it's actually quite a pleasant way to get around.

And what we think is that as a cycling community, you engage more with your surroundings, with people in the road. You'll see people cycling OurBike, they're having chats with people, people are asking them about it. You don't get that in a car. There's no barriers to communication. It feels like people are using a bicycle, therefore, obviously they're local. If I see a guy outside in a van or a woman in a car, I don't know whether they're from here, I don't know whether they're from Watford, I don't know whether anywhere in the country. But when people are cycling bikes around, it feels like you're entrenched in that local community. So we really like the way it supports that energy of kind of local neigh-boringness. Very friendly communicating. Yeah, we think it's great.

We'd love to see more take up in the community. We're always happy to go out and run people through it, take them on a ride down the road. That's the kind of thing that we would see as being very useful to support it. 


 We want to extend our ongoing gratitude to Alisdair and his team at Hotblack Desiato in Islington for their exceptional hospitality and dedicated support of the project.

If you would like to see the video version of this conversation head over to Youtube