FREE bicycle trailers will be offered to shoppers at the new Waitrose in Botley Road to help ease traffic problems.

The initiative will allow people to borrow a trailer complete with large shopping bags for up to three days to encourage cycling to the store.

It is hoped the scheme will reduce traffic congestion and air pollution in busy Botley Road when the Waitrose opens in less than two weeks.

The branch manager said it was part of a green initiative but also in response to feedback from residents.

Greg Porter added: “Being Green is part of the ‘Waitrose Way’, which means we continuously strive to make the right choices for the environment and explore initiatives to help cut carbon emissions.

“Introducing the trailers not only forms part of this, but is in response to feedback we received during the public consultation for the new store when we had numerous requests from residents.

“With Oxford widely known as a truly cycling city, we are confident the trailers will be well used and hopefully encourage even more people to cycle to the store and do their bit for the environment.”

The doors to the new Waitrose open at 8am on Thursday, October 15.

Customers are advised to pre-book the trailers and will be provided with a special bracket that will attach to their saddle. This can be done by going to the welcome desk or calling the store.

Lois Muddiman, from Low Carbon West Oxford, welcomed the scheme.

She said: “We are delighted the new Waitrose will offer this service.

“Being able to carry home your shopping in a special trailer attached to your bike will make it much easier for people.

“Regularly doing your shopping by bike is better for you and will help to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution on the Botley Road.”

The new supermarket has created about 200 jobs, including sales assistants, warehouse workers, cafe staff and drivers.

Earlier this year the store’s contractors laid a new path for the Osney, St Thomas and New Botley Allotment Association.

The path through the allotments next to the site had been badly damaged by flooding in recent years.

The former Halfords and MFI building was demolished before Christmas last year to pave the way for Oxford’s third Waitrose – the other two are in Headington.

Construction of the 24,500 sq ft store began in February.