Across Europe – and beginnng now in the UK – the popularity of the cargo bike is soaring. In summer 2020, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the worldwide governing body for cycling – which develops and oversees cycling in all its forms and for all people, as a competitive sport, a healthy leisure activity and a sustainable means of transport – began a major push to raise the profile of cargo bikes. It wrote: ‘Cargo bikes are environmentally friendly, affordable and convenient, alleviate urban traffic congestion, improve family transportation, promote gender equality – and the list keeps going if you read the very practical 20 good reasons to ride a cargo bike developed by the team behind CycleLogistics / City Changer Cargo Bike EU project.’
Taking various forms, with or without electric assistance, and allowing for the transport of both cargo and people, cargo bikes can provide solutions when it comes to environmental, logistical, traffic and social issues faced by cities around the world. Many women and young parents have found cargo bikes especially useful.
During the coronavirus pandemic, many examples have further illustrated their value and societal benefits, supporting people and organisations in need, for example the Cargodale service set up during 2020 in Todmorden, a market town in the Upper Calder Valley in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, England, by Beate Kubitz.
The City Changer Cargo Bike (CCCB) project builds on the ever-growing potential of cargo bikes by promoting their usage amongst public, private, and commercial users. Supported by the European Union’s Horizon2 020 programme, CCCB brings together 22 partners from all over Europe, including cities, research institutions and NGOs. It raises awareness and supports the uptake of cargo bikes and cargo bike initiatives, while fostering developments that offer more sustainable logistics operations, improve public spaces, engage citizens, and reduce traffic congestion. The initiative also aims to get cargo bikes in European cities by developing new financing schemes and providing opportunities to test cargo bikes.
Inthe UK, many local authorities have taken advantage of the Energy Saving Trust (EST) eCargo Bike Grant Fund. It closed for applications in March 2020, with 164 grants offered for 691 ecargo bikes and etrailers. Despite COVID disruption, the grants are now being spent and many new ecargo bikes and trailers have been delivered, Richard Armitage, Executive Director of the trade association, European Cycle Logistics Federation, told Green Fleet News.
Colchester Borough Council, for example, ordered 25 ecargo bikes and 5 etrailers with their £136,000 EST grant, said Armitage.
Emily Harrup, Transport and Sustainability Projects Officer, is distributing the fleet via 10 champions (local businesses and organisations) and four Council teams, with the remainder of the fleet in the new cargo bike library.
In return for Colchester Council making an ecargo bike available on a five-year loan, Emily has drawn up a comprehensive Agreement laying out the roles and responsibilities of bike recipients, covering insurance, secure storage, rider training, operational data collection and other reporting requirements, warranty, and maintenance.
Presenting the Colchester scheme to the free Landor LINKS Green Transport Recovery webinar in August, Emily describeshow the Ecargo Bike Library service fits into the Council’s polices on the climate emergency, cycling and all other aspects of transport and travel.
In October 2020, Oxfordshire-based EAV and Asda announced a two-week trial of the EAV four-wheel ecargo bike, making home deliveries from Asda’s Cambridge store. The supermarket is looking at how to reach customers who live in proposed pedestrianised areas and zero emission zones where future access for traditional delivery vehicles could be limited. Weighing in at just 150kgs, the EAV can reach speeds of up to 15mph and has an ultra-lightweight chassis made of a bio-recyclable flax and carbon composite. In 2019, EAV supplied 10 of its four wheel ecargo bikes to parcel courier DPD for long-term tests.
Looking ahead, a wider cargo bike and cycle logistics ‘eco system’ is starting to emerge. It is no longer just about supplying the ecargo bikes. The business or organisation wanting to deploy them expects easy access to the eco-system, including insurance, maintenance, repair, accessories and bespoke adaptations, branding, finance and replacement units on demand.
The European standards organisation (CEN) cycling committee (TC333) has a new Working Group (WG9) that started developing industry standards for cargo bikes at its first meeting in Delft, the Netherlands, in January 2020. At the November WG9 online meeting, delegates from the EU and the UK were presented with the first European cargo bike market survey results (over 50% growth per year 2018 and 2019 and more to come) and the initial results of a survey of cargo bike operators about safety. The surveys form part of the City Changer Cargo Bike programme and were conducted by trade body Cycling Industries Europe.
Richard Armitage FCILT is Executive Director of the trade association, European Cycle Logistics Federation
Some parts of this article were first published in Green Fleet News
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