The growth in online shopping has benefitted many of our lives but it’s also led to an increase in the number of commercial vehicles on our roads, causing noise pollution and harm to the environment.
There is no doubting that some online retailers have developed the distribution process down to a fine art that would have been unimaginable 20 years ago, but one aspect that’s proved difficult to improve is the final leg of the journey from the warehouse to the home or office – known in the industry as ‘the last mile’.
Thus far, this part of the distribution process has been the least efficient and, to the casual observer, the most noticeable. All those white vans dashing about, often driven aggressively, blocking narrow sides streets and pumping out pollution like there is no tomorrow. There must be a better way.
E-cargo bikes may just be the solution we’ve been waiting for?
Delivery by bike is hardly a new concept but it’s been difficult to do this at scale for the simple reason that parcels can be heavy and bulky, so a regular bike simply is not up to the job for all but the smallest of payloads.
e-Cargo bikes, however, with the benefit of a pedal-assist motors and large containers that can easily accommodate lots of parcels of all shapes and sizes, enable the rider to load up once at a local distribution centre and do his/her deliveries for the morning at least with, maybe, one more return trip in the afternoon.
Aside from the obvious benefits over the traditional white van, e-cargo bikes are also exempt from vehicle excise duty & parking charges, they don’t even need a driver’s license. So not only are they an environmentally friendly solution but can also work out considerably cheaper!
E-cargo bikes can also take the most direct route by using cycle & bus lanes and even take short-cuts via pedestrianized areas.
What’s more, using e-cargo bikes can also result in a healthier and happier workforce. Riders not only gain through physical exercise but riding an e-cargo bike is a lot less stressful than driving a van, with no worries about risking a speeding fine or parking ticket.
E-cargo Bikes are Already a Reality
E-cargo bike deliveries have been trialled throughout the UK and there are, already, some businesses doing bike deliveries daily.
One such concern is e-cargobikes.com who undertake last-mile deliveries for some London-based Co-Op and Sainsbury’s stores with the aid of a custom e-bike fitted with a large front and rear lockable boxes (a large ambient temperature box at the front and a smaller powered box at the back for chilled and frozen goods). Swappable rechargeable batteries also ensure the bikes can be operated with virtually no down-time throughout the day.
The company have done research that suggests that over 96% of current home grocery deliveries could easily be done with one of their bikes.
UK-based company Raleigh are also blazing a trail in the development of e-cargo bikes, offering both a 2-wheeler option with a 350 litre capacity cargo box as well as a trike fitted with a massive 900 litre capacity box with a range of up to 40 miles and single charge.
Of course, like any solution, the use of e-cargo bikes is not always going to be a viable option such as in rural areas but, in cities especially, they can certainly make a significant impact not just by benefitting the delivery companies and their employees but for all of us in the form of a cleaner environment, quieter streets and less stress overall!