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Logistics plans require urgent scale-up of e-cargo bike usage

Emergency road closures, widening of footways and the creation of new pop-up cycleways means bikes are likely to be the fastest way of getting around cities like London, Manchester, and Birmingham as the UK eases slowly back to work.

Just Ride the Bike, an active travel consultancy, is engaged with the City of London Corporation, Phil Jones Associates and PedalMe to fast track an e-cargo bike pilot scheme for companies needing to maintain freight service levels in a post-lockdown UK.

Encouraged by the £2 billion long-term package to put cycling and walking at the heart of our transport policy announced by Transport Secretary, Rt Hon Grant Shapps, many local authorities are already rolling out measures to make it harder for vehicles to access dense urban areas. Support service providers with a business model reliant on using motorised transport for mobile response teams or mobile engineers will need to adapt fast; the attractive, cost-efficient, and environmentally-sound option is to move as many journeys as achievable to e-cargo bikes.

The City of London Corporation, which was already seeking to mitigate the impact of freight and servicing activity in the Square Mile, are now having to consider this in the context of supporting socially distant travel for over half a million employees.

The City of London’s 25-year Transport Strategy seeks to reduce the number of motorised freight and servicing vehicles by 30 per cent by 2044 – with 90 per cent of this activity to take place outside peak hours. With half of vans estimated to be undertaking servicing activity in the City, their strategy commits to developing a sustainable servicing plan to reduce the number of motor vehicles required to undertake this essential activity.

Just Ride the Bike is calling for service providers to shift their operations from vans to e-cargo bikes as soon as possible to adapt to emergency transport planning measures, maintain productivity and pursue a sustainable servicing plan. High-tech e-assist cargo bikes can move loads of up to 150kg, even without a trailer. Organisations such as FedEx, DHL, Co-op, the Royal Mail, and the NHS (for blood supplies) are already using e-cargo bikes for the last mile of their deliveries.

Dr David Land of Just Ride the Bike explained: “Our standard research model develops a strong business case leading to a e-cargo bike pilot scheme that we manage, measuring performance and assessing productivity. But the call from the Dept of Transport and plans of farsighted local authorities such as the City of London make that business case much more urgent. We want to work with service providers such as facilities managers, estates teams and building services organisations to set up a pilot scheme right now. This will show how they can easily adapt to deliver business continuity, whilst delivering sustainable logistics and service support.”

Across the UK councils are making rapid plans; some cities and regions are further ahead than others. But the objective is the same: reduce vehicle traffic and prioritise walking and bike riding.

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