Online shopping has seen a surge during COVID-19. This, of course, went hand in hand with an increased number of double-parked delivery vans blocking traffic in urban areas and emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. A new report proposes that logistics companies start parting ways with delivery vans and adopt electric cargo bikes instead to curb both road congestion and air pollution.
According to the study, opting for cargo bikes rather than vans could mean 60 percent faster deliveries in city centers, coupled with a significant decrease in carbon emissions — even when compared to electric delivery vans.
The report, which is part of a UK-based project called Car Free Megacities, was spurred by the growing number of delivery vans on the road — a trend exacerbated by the pandemic.
As reported by Fast Company, in the UK, the number of van miles traveled has doubled over the last 25 years, contributing to air pollution and road accidents. “We believed it was important to look at alternatives to this damaging model of urban freight,” says Ersilia Verlinghieri, lead author of the report.
For the study, the researchers used GPS data from cargo bike company Pedal Me to calculate how long it would have taken a delivery van to make the same trips in central London. To do so, they accounted for differences in speed, payload capacity, and the time to unload the vehicles. Since cargo bikes can more easily cut through traffic, take shortcuts, and spend less time trying to find parking, the report concluded that they can make deliveries more quickly.
On top of faster deliveries, cargo bikes also have a significantly smaller environmental footprint even when compared to electric vans. In fact, cargo bikes have a carbon footprint three times smaller than electric delivery trucks, and 90 percent smaller compared to diesel vans.
What also matters is whether a city has a good cycling infrastructure, which can impact how well cargo bikes can work. “Good bike infrastructure is crucial both for enabling cargo bikes to deliver safely and rapidly to various destinations,” says Verlinghieri, who also notes that governments can do more to encourage cargo bike adoption. Such actions may include subsidies for bikes and reduced taxes on their operations, support for infrastructures like charging stations, and low-emissions zones that prioritize pedestrians and cyclists over cars.
Source study: Car Free Megacities – Want greener, cleaner and faster deliveries? Try a cargo bike.