Tag Archive: Electric Cargo Bicycle

  1. Prague’s cargo bike boom – a case study for urban last-mile deliveries

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    Source: Autonomy Network

    Prague remains a key location for cargo bike urban integration, having opened two city center depots. After operating for a sustained period, the success of the scheme can now be evaluated.

    Prague’s two cargo bike depots opened in 2020 and 2021 respectively, being recognized by the 2021 Eurocities Awards as a low-carbon alternative to last-mile van delivery. The principal is simple, a van drops off packages at the central depot, which are then delivered across the city via cargo bike. In Prague, hilly terrain leads to a preference for e-cargo bikes, allowing riders to tackle tougher terrain with ease. Thus far, each depot has delivered approximately 7,000 orders per month, with each location housing up to eight companies.

    Successful collaboration between public and private sectors

    Operating companies pay a small fee to cover depot running costs, and hence, the city administration does not have to contribute a stake in the project outside of the initial construction cost. For a relatively low price, the depot helps to achieve Prague’s long-term vision to promote cycling and change its citizens’ attitudes to this means of transport. The depot also contributes to the city’s pledge to lower its CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2050.

    The project is a good example of cooperation between different actors. The pilot project was approved by the city council based on a study by the Prague Institute of Planning and Development. It took only three months to execute the proposal. Ekolo, the company setting up and running the depot, attributes this success to intense cooperation between the logistics firm and city-run companies.

    Domestic firm (Dámejídlo, Zásilkovna, Rohlík or WEDO) and international firms (DHL, Dascher, GLS) both profit from the innovation. Twelve enterprises use the two depots at present, but Adam Scheinherr, mayor’s deputy for transportation, is in talks with companies that could not be accommodated in the first depots. A representative of Ekolo started helping with similar cargo bike projects in London, Copenhagen, and Lille.

    Potential to inspire future action and lessons learned

    As the largest depots of their kind, Prague’s cargo bike scheme offers both a point of inspiration and a case study from which to learn. Of course, it is commonly accepted that electric cargo bikes are an optimal delivery vehicle; speedy, quiet, low polluting, cheaper, accessible, etc. however, new insight can now be utilized to further improve customer and driver experience.

    The key lessons learned for future projects were:

    • More depots are required: This will minimize driver distance and reduce delivery times.
    • Unsustainable trends must still be recognized: Overconsumption and the negative impact of deliveries and packaging are still prominent issues for the majority of parcel lifetimes. More localized production is required.
    • Worker experience must be improved: One recent example concerns an online grocery store, Rohlik.cz, one of the companies using the depot. The firm reduced the couriers’ wages (despite having almost doubled its profit last year), sparking public concern. Other difficulties of this job came to light, namely long working hours, lack of social security, and uncertain wages.
  2. e-Cargo investment of £920,000 for hospital scheme in Bristol, UK

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    Source: Cycling Industry News, Simon Fox

    A 12-month trial sees vans servicing Bristol Royal Infirmary replaced by cargo bikes for urban journeys

    Run by West of England Combined Authority, the trial will take place for a full year, beginning June 2022. E-cargo bikes will be used as direct replacements for vans previously utilized by the Bristol Royal Infirmary, with GPS tracking measuring how this change impacts delivery performance.

    The £920,000 of funding from central government seeks to deliver substantial change to the way in which UK transport systems operate. As outlined by the Future Transport Zone, “The zones will provide real-world testing for experts, allowing them to work with a range of local bodies such as councils, hospitals, airports and universities to test innovative ways to transport people and goods.”

    A comparable study by Pedal and Post, an Oxford-based cargo bike provider, found medical delivery times to be halved when using cargo bikes in comparison to vans in urban areas. The results for Bristol will become clear in a year’s time.

  3. ICBF announces 2022 dates – in collaboration with World of eMobility

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    Source: Cargo Bike Festival

    The International Cargo Bike Festival (ICBF) will take place in Amsterdam, 27-29 October 2022.

    Attendees of ICBF 2022 will find the festival in a special cargo bike-focused area of the wider World of eMobility 2022 event – a hybrid B2B / B2C trade show that saw its debut in 2021. The cargo bike festival will be a unique and innovation-focused affair, including exhibition space, indoor test track, and cargo bike conference.

    Discover more via the official ICBF website, here.

    The event will take place at Expo Haarlemmermeer, a multifunctional venue surrounded by nature, in the heart of Randstad. The exclusive location has an industrial look and feel and is just a stone’s throw from Schiphol Airport and Amsterdam. The unexpected peace and tranquillity amidst the hustle and bustle of the Randstad, and the striking architecture of the building, blend in perfectly well with the lush nature surrounding it.

  4. German cargo-bike market continues to bulk-up with 100,000 sales in 2020

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    Source: Forbes

    A ‘pandemic bike boom’ has catapulted the German and wider European cargo-bike market towards an estimated growth of 40-50% in 2021

    As European cities continue to grow in size and density, road space has become increasingly scarce. In tandem, online shopping has become the new norm, so it is unsurprising that in locations such as the UK, van traffic has seen a 71% increase over the last 20 years; for comparison, car traffic saw a 13% growth in the same period. More vans equate to more congestion, more pollution, and slower delivery times. In Germany, the cargo-bike is powering onto the scene with such ferocity that leading magazine Bike Europe stated that the bikes have quickly “[changed] the look of streets” in many cities.

    Six years ago, in 2016, annual German cargo-bike sales stood at 15,000, in 2020 sales reached 100,000; today, the pandemic induced ‘bike boom’ has led to manufacturers estimating they experienced growth of 40-50% in 2021. When discussing modern city planning Walther Ploos van Amstel, a professor of city logistics at Amsterdam University, argues that “trucks… need to become smarter, cleaner, quieter, smaller and safer.” to remain viable – electric cargo-bikes already fulfill all of these criteria.

    This spike in interest correlates to businesses begining to identify the range of benefits that electric cargo-bikes may bring to their operations in urban areas. In many cities, trips made by cargo-bikes are often more efficient during both travel and delivery procedure (parking, unloading, etc.). Consequently, policymakers are further accelerating the electric cargo-bike trend on a local and national scale, offering subsidies, trial schemes, and rebates. Cargo-bikes make up a crucial step in the marathon that is transforming European cities into climate-neutral locations.

    Electric-cargo-bike
  5. The Business Case For Cargo Bikes

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    Source: Tom Parr on Urban Mobility Daily 07 October 2020 – As traffic volumes increase in city centres, partly fuelled by deliveries from a COVID boosted e-commerce sector, organisations are looking for a silver bullet for urban logistics. But has it been sitting right here under our noses all this time?

    The (electric) cargo bike is making a break for the mainstream. And not just in traditional northern European cargo bike heartlands such as the Netherlands and Denmark, but also in places like Germany, France, the UK and Canada. Sales are constantly booming with manufacturers reporting increases of over 50% year-on-year despite COVID. However, in spite of their enormous potential, (electric) cargo bikes are still thought of by many as an oddity; a niche item.

    Real-life case studies show that there is a clear business case for cycle logistics. In recent years the likes of FedEx, DHL, UPS, Amazon, DB Schenker, DPD, GLS and Hermes have all added (electric) cargo bikes to their fleets, and across the world (electric) cargo bikes are used by organisations of all shapes and sizes. Let’s rewind and explore some of the reasons why.

    They’re quicker. Time and time again it has been shown that (electric) cargo bikes can get the job done quicker in cities. Data from a cycle logistics hub set up in car-addicted Sydney in 2016 showed that (electric) cargo bikes travelled a third few kilometres than vans, taking less than half the time to complete their rounds. But how? (electric) Bikes are nimbler, can use cycle lanes, take shortcuts and park with ease. Meanwhile, vans spent three times as long parked up compared to (e-) bikes. And whilst bike couriers hardly needed to walk at all – having parked just outside the door, van drivers walked approximately a third of their total distance. In Sydney it’s evidently easier to just park and walk than to constantly drive around looking for parking spaces.

    They’re energy efficient. A study by Velove and the Swedish Energy Agency showed that e-cargo bikes consume 94% less energy than traditional e-van for the same deliveries. Yes you read that right: 94% less. Weight is the obvious factor here; the e-van tested, a Nissan e-NV200, weighed approximately 17 times as much as the e-cargo bike. And like in Sydney, routing is also key, with cargo bikes able to take much shorter routes than e-vans.

    Their footprint is small. On emissions, as well-documented as the health benefits of reduced air pollution are for public health, it is also becoming clearer that the vehicle tailpipe is not the only offender. Fine particulate matter (PM) emissions from tyre and brake wear can have a detrimental effect on urban air quality and have also been shown to cause microplastic marine pollution. Simply swapping ICE vehicles for electric does not appear to mitigate this.

    In both cases, (electric) cargo bikes do have an environmental impact. However, the lower weights and speeds involved mean that their footprint is orders of magnitude slimmer.

    It’s the Decade of the (Electric) Cargo Bike. In terms of both costs and environmental impact then, the cargo bike has a distinct edge – but that’s not all. Depending on where you’re based, (electric) cargo bike sales are now often supported by subsidies* from local, regional or national government. Cities worldwide are realising that alongside cycling for personal mobility, cycle logistics is intensely compatible with their efforts to foster liveable urban environments. If you close your city centre to internal combustion engine vehicles, the (electric) cargo bike is an important ally to keep urban logistics flows going.

    *LEVA-EU is collecting information on subsidies for light, electric vehicles here.

    Photo credits: Rad Power Bikes

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