Taking back our cities: how cities are adapting to cargo bike deliveries | Zedify
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calendarJune 28th, 2022
personBex Young
clock4 minute read

How Cities Are Adapting to Cargo Bike Deliveries

The world has never been more reliant on goods being transported and delivered quickly, efficiently and safely. For those unable to leave their homes due to lockdowns and illness, relying on timely medication and food delivery quickly became a lifeline. Spiraling parcel volumes as consumers have shifted in droves to shopping online has increased pollution and congestion in cities peppered with one way, narrow streets, designed for delivery by horse and cart. As a result, it falls on the cities’ residents to bear the brunt of the these knock-on impacts, compromising their own health and that of the environment around them.

Despite the common perception that van deliveries are the quickest and most convenient method of goods pick-up and drop-off, there’s mounting evidence that cargo bikes provide a faster, cleaner and safer way to deliver in cities. 

Sustainable Delivery Service 

Many have been quick to recognise that cargo bikes provide a logical solution to cater to the increased delivery demand in cities without leaving a mark on the environment or the residents within it. Forbes magazine recently opined the following  – “​​cargo bikes could be the best bet to secure sustainable urban food supply chains, make local communities and economies thrive and help foster cities’ sustainable urban mobility plans.” 

In fact, some argue that if we don’t step up our cargo bike deliveries with immediate effect, “there is no other way cities can achieve their climate and emissions reductions goals because so much of urban emissions are coming from transport,” said Henk Swarttouw, president of the European Cyclists Federation.

How Have We Adapted and Whats to Come?

For this alternative delivery model to work in cities across the world and become a sustainable solution with longevity, it’s no secret that meaningful stakeholder engagement across all sectors is needed. Encouragingly, there are already well-supported projects underway that seek to change the game of urban deliveries.

Zedify were fortunate to attend the launch of Clean Air Logistics for London (CALL) on 27th June, an exciting new project by Cross River Partnership (CRP) seeking to move freight off roads and onto the Thames. The new network of river transportation will be supported on land by walking freight, electric vehicle usage and of course, cargo bike delivery. Backed by £1,000,000 of DEFRA Air Quality grant funding, this project looks to transform congested inner-London roads into pleasant and usable places to walk, cycle and live, making use of a highly valuable and under-utilised river transport network. 

CRP used their Clean Air Tool to calculate that “CALL project activities will deliver 84,407 kg of improvements to carbon emissions (CO2), as well as improvements to Air Quality. This is the equivalent of emissions from 1,731 football pitch-sized forest fires.” 

Benefits of Cargo Bike Deliveries 

As annual events such as Global Action Plan’s Clean Air Day gain more traction in the media, and politicians start to prioritise climate and clean air action in line with their targets, cycle-friendly cities have a key role to play. Transport bodies such as Transport for London (TfL) continue to consult on changes to highways and cycleways, with eight proposed cycle lanes in discussion at the moment. Temporary changes were made throughout the pandemic to help people access their workplace without public transport, reflecting the increase in cycling across the UK (the amount of people buying bikes in 2020 was 22% higher than in 2019). Consultations are ongoing as to whether these should be made permanent, with the opportunity for the public to voice support here: https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/

Overall, the stats on city cycling could be better and it’s clear that more needs to be done to get the average person out of a car and on a bike: only four in ten UK adults believe their local area has a good infrastructure for cycling already in place. If nationwide schemes to get cargo bike deliveries in place for all are to come together, it’s clear that – although we’re on the right (cycle) path – more needs to be done.


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