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New study confirms the qualities of the cargo bike

01. September 2021

Increasing delivery traffic is leaving its mark on inner cities. Hopes are pinned on so-called cargo bikes. Now a British study confirms the added value of battery-electric two-wheeled urban logistics: not only does it get to its destination in a more environmentally friendly way, it also gets there much faster.

It wasn't just the Corona pandemic that caused online retail to boom. Between the beginning of 2015 and the end of 2019, the cumulative sales of digital retailers more than doubled, rising from around ten to 22 billion euros . It reached its peak to date of over 27 billion euros in the Christmas business of the Corona year 2020. The fact that all orders placed in the virtual space have to be physically delivered is therefore having an increasing impact on cities: One-third of traffic is now attributable to delivery traffic.

Cargo bikes also offer a lot of storage space. © DLR

Cargo bikes also offer a lot of storage space. © DLR

Study on the benefits of cargo bikes

In London, too, urban delivery traffic by van is taking on such proportions that the Car Free Megacities project group at the University of Westminster felt compelled to conduct a study on the benefits of cargo bikes . According to the study findings, delivering CEP deliveries by electric cargo bike is not only more environmentally friendly, quieter and less dangerous - it actually saves time, too. Cargobikes get to their destination up to 60% faster, the study reveals. So in the time it takes a van to deliver six packages, a two-wheeler can do ten; with CO2 emissions reduced by 90%.

To arrive at their findings, the researchers analyzed large-scale GPS data from the English logistics company Pedal Me, which uses e-cargobikes to deliver parcels, and used this to calculate the expected duration of the same routes using standard vans. Speed, transport volume and unloading speed were included in the calculation. The fact that two-wheelers can more easily avoid traffic and take shortcuts that are closed to car traffic, in addition to requiring less time to find parking, can compensate for the lower capacity.

Nonetheless, these findings do not readily apply to every city; the given bike infrastructure still plays a major role, as Ersilia Verlinghieri, Research Fellow at the University of Westminster's Active Travel Academy and lead author of the report, points out.

„Good bike infrastructure is crucial both for enabling cargo bikes to deliver safely and rapidly to various destinations.“

Ersilia Verlinghieri
Research Fellow an der Active Travel Academy der University of Westminster

However, if the conditions are met, Verlinghieri says 51% of all delivery trips in cities can be made by cargo bikes. She is referring to a study published in 2016 by the EU CycleLogistics project. Already, the 100,000 cargo bikes that were in commercial use in Europe between 2018 and 2020 provide a saving of the same amount of carbon dioxide that would be released if 24,000 people flew from London to New York and back - every month, according to the report.

You might also be interested in this article about an innovative cargo concept.

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