What are E-Cargo Bikes?

In the wake of COP26 the demand for sustainability in business is on the rise. According to the WWF, the popularity of Google searches relating to sustainable goods has increased by 71% globally since 2016. As laid out in the Call for Evidence on the opportunities available to deliver goods more sustainably, Jesse Norman, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Transport, advised that there appear to be five potential barriers to sustainable last mile delivery:

  1. Commercial viability – trade off between cheaper vehicles and higher labour costs
  2. Vehicle/bike limitations – capacity limitations, particularly for specialised loads
  3. Insurance & licensing – particularly for e-vans and micro vehicles, but some e-cargo bikes require these too
  4. Training & operations – investment in rider/driver training and different operational procedures and equipment (e.g. establishment of local partnerships)
  5. Current Infrastructure – urban infrastructure to date has not been designed for use with electric solutions and would require major changes to the way goods are currently distributed, which is typically from large, out-of-town warehouses.

Consumer demand, as well as net zero targets set out by the government, have caused demand for alternative, more environmentally friendly delivery transport options to increase; demand for e-cargo bikes is on the rise. E-cargo bikes are pedal bikes that use an electric motor to assist transportation of goods.

At the International Conference on City Logistics, it was estimated that 51% of all freight journeys in European cities could be replaced by e-cargo bikes, whilst another study published in Research in Transportation Business and Management suggested

that e-cargo bikes could form 25% of all city centre commercial traffic.

E-cargo bikes are much more agile than vans; using closed-off roads and cut-throughs and bypassing queuing traffic. Many large corporations have begun integrating e-cargo bikes into their operations, with Co-Op and Sainsburys recently attracting attention by offering consumers e-cargo bike deliveries in as little as two hours from ordering. In 2018, e-Cargobikes.com proved that delivering groceries by electric cargo bike is an efficient way of delivering goods in cities with 96.7% of orders being fulfilled in a single trip, shorter delivery times, shorter routes, and, ultimately, shorter ‘doorstep’ times as e-cargo bikes can park closer to delivery destinations.

Swapping a van for an e-cargo bike can:

  • Enable goods to be delivered 60% faster
  • Reduce carbon emissions by a third compared to electric vans, or by 90% compared to more commonly used diesel vans – helping reach net zero targets
  • Significantly reduce air pollution – essential as 3 million children in the UK attend a school where air pollution is above the World Health Organisation’s maximum recommended levels
  • Improve safety on roads – one in three fatal collisions in London between 2015 and 2017 involved a van
  • Increase delivered goods margins by 70%, according to e-cargobikes.com
  • Improve delivery service for customers as physical and financial constraints are removed and companies have more freedom over deliveries thanks to smaller parcels and transport size – ‘next day delivery’ can become ‘next hour delivery’
  • Enhance efficiency by better utilising space – The RAC and Transport for London found that 66% of vans are half full or less than half

full, with an average load factor (as a proportion of capacity) of 38%

Businesses who use e-cargo bikes receive further financial benefits as many don’t require road tax, insurance, or licences, and don’t have to pay for parking. The bikes have minimal running costs, simply requiring servicing and battery charging and are fully tax deductible for businesses.

Many councils are offering free trials or subsidising the cost of e-cargo bike purchase, and some companies offer rentals or a pay-per-mile service.

The DriverNet technology platform presents further benefits by giving delivery companies the tools to optimise routes, reducing planning time, paperwork, and journey times. Beate Kubitz, founder of Cargodale, who use e-cargo bikes to deliver goods in Calderdale, said

“launching our e-cargo bike delivery operation at the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic was a huge challenge. I’m not sure how we would have kept organised without DriverNet!”.

A wide variety of delivery operators, including those who use e-cargo bikes or vans, will benefit from using the DriverNet transport management system and mobile app to enhance safety, improve efficiency, and save time. If you are a delivery company, find out how DriverNet can improve your delivery operations by getting in touch with the team to request a demo at info@diver-net.com