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Here’s why cargo bikes make more sense than vans for inner city deliveries

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As traffic volumes increase in our city centers, partly fueled by deliveries from a COVID boosted e-commerce sector, organizations are looking for a silver bullet for urban logistics. But has it been sitting right here under our noses all this time?

We think it has. Back on 31st December 2019, Jos Sluijsmans, Founder-Director of the International Cargo Bike Festival, and I declared the 2020s the Decade of the Cargo Bike. Right now, the cargo bike is making a break for the mainstream. And not just in traditional northern European cargo bike heartlands such as the Netherlands and Denmark, but also in places like Germany, France, the UK, and Canada. Sales are booming, with manufacturers reporting increases of over 50% year-on-year despite COVID. However, in spite of their enormous potential, cargo bikes are still thought of by many as an oddity; a niche item.

Real-life case studies show that there is a clear business case for cycle logistics. In recent years the likes of Fedex, DHL, UPS, Amazon, DB Schenker, DPD, GLS and Hermes have all added cargo bikes to their fleets, and across the world cargo bikes are used by organizations of all shapes and sizes. Let’s rewind and explore some of the reasons why.

They’re quicker

Time and time again it has been shown that cargo bikes can get the job done quicker in cities. Data from a cycle logistics hub set up in car-addicted Sydney in 2016 showed that cargo bikes travelled a third few kilometers than vans, taking less than half the time to complete their rounds in the CBD. But how?

Cargo bikes delivering groceries in London. Photo: e-cargobikes.com

Bikes are nimbler, can use cycle lanes, take shortcuts and park with ease. Meanwhile, vans spent three times as long parked up compared to bikes. And whilst bike couriers hardly needed to walk at all – having parked just outside the door, van drivers walked approximately a third of their total distance. In Sydney it’s evidently easier to just park and walk than to constantly drive around looking for parking spaces.

They’re energy efficient

A study by Velove and the Swedish Energy Agency showed that e-cargo bikes consume 94% less energy than traditional e-van for the same deliveries. Yes you read that right: 94% less. Weight is the obvious factor here; the e-van tested, a Nissan e-NV200, weighed approximately 17 times as much as the e-cargo bike. And like in Sydney, routing is also key, with cargo bikes able to take much shorter routes than e-vans.

A Velove Armadillo cargo bike in Hermes livery. Photo: Velove

Their footprint is small

Urban Mobility Daily readers will be no strangers to the environmental benefits of ultra-low-emission forms of mobility such as the cargo bike. Not mentioned in the Swedish study were embodied emissions from manufacture; far lower for e-cargo bikes than for e-vans due to the amount of materials consumed.

On emissions, as well-documented as the health benefits of reduced air pollution are for public health, it is also becoming clearer that the vehicle tailpipe is not the only offender. Fine particle NOx emissions from tyre and brake wear can have a detrimental effect on urban air quality and have also been shown to cause micro-plastic marine pollution. Simply swapping ICE vehicles for electric does not appear to mitigate this.

Babboe Pro cargo bikes in Amsterdam. Photo: Babboe Pro

In both cases, cargo bikes do have an environmental impact. However, the lower weights and speeds involved mean that their footprint is orders of magnitude slimmer.

It’s the decade of the cargo bike

In terms of both costs and environmental impact then, the cargo bike has a distinct edge – but that’s not all. Depending on where you’re based, cargo bike sales are now often supported by subsidies from local, regional or national government. Cities worldwide are realizing that alongside cycling for personal mobility, cycle logistics is intensely compatible with their efforts to foster livable urban environments. If you close your city centre to internal combustion engine vehicles, the cargo bike is an important ally to keep urban logistics flows going.

This cargo bike made by AsasarA can even handle snow. Photo: AsasarA

The cargo bike’s star is rising, but the benefits don’t come without costs. Organizations must be flexible and adapt to deploy cargo bikes in ways that meet their goals. Smaller city-centre first/last mile hubs, when combined with cargo bikes, provide the makings of an agile business model suited to the city of both today and tomorrow.

As we evolve to position ourselves in the new normal, many are on the hunt for that urban logistics silver bullet. Cargo bikes are a solid, proven technology which exists in the here and now. So proactively invest in the cargo bike, and the cargo bike will pay you back. If you’re looking for a mobility solution, consider pedal power – the humble cargo bike is far more powerful than it looks.

This article was written by Tom Parr, Co-organizer, International Cargo Bike Festival, on The Urban Mobility Daily, the content site of the Urban Mobility Company, a Paris-based company which is moving the business of mobility forward through physical and virtual events and services. Join their community of 10K+ global mobility professionals by signing up for the Urban Mobility Weekly newsletter. Read the original article here and follow them on Linkedin and Twitter


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Published October 20, 2020 — 11:57 UTC

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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