As more people shop online, diesel delivery vans are making a growing contribution to air pollution and congestion in the streets of UK towns and cities. The mileage driven by delivery vans is much higher than other vehicles, resulting in over 1 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year.
Unfortunately, this is made worse as online shoppers become more impatient, expecting goods to be delivered within hours. Last-mile delivery has become less efficient, with more half-empty vans filling up our roads. As we recover from the coronavirus crisis it is likely that online deliveries will remain high, and zero-emission alternatives are needed to meet the UK’s net-zero carbon target.
e-cargobikes.com have developed a flexible electric cargo bike that can be used to deliver ambient and chilled groceries as well as other packages. Trials with Sainsbury's in 2018 showed that in dense urban areas a single e-cargo bike can deliver as much in one day as a 3.5 tonne van. The bikes used have two boxes – an insulated box with a capacity of 130 litres, and a non-insulated 350 litre box on the front of the bike. They are delivering groceries from several Co-op stores in London which offer a 2-hour delivery service. The bikes, which operate out of two hubs, are well-suited to smaller basket-sizes and have been well received by customers.
e-cargobikes.com has also started working with several London boroughs to provide delivery services to local businesses. In Hammersmith and Fulham, it operates the ‘Parcels not Pollution’ service delivering to 100 businesses in the local Business Improvement Districts, as well as delivering to local foodbanks. Packages are consolidated in their West London delivery hub, then delivered to their final destination by cargo bike.
The majority of riders working for e-cargobikes.com are employed, earning the London Living Wage. In a sector that often operates within the ‘gig-economy’, e-cargobikes.com is able to retain riders, both through decent pay and excellent training and development programmes.
They work with bike charities in London including the Bike Project, a charity that provides bikes for refugees, and social enterprise BikeWorks, supporting their courses on e-cargobike riding and maintenance for refugees and the long-term unemployed.
What’s the impact on customers/beneficiaries?
During the coronavirus lockdown, people in towns and cities across the UK have enjoyed clean air and quieter roads. Many local authorities are looking to speed up their plans for air quality improvement, and some are closing roads to motorised traffic, making delivery by van more difficult. E-cargo bikes can use cycle lanes, and offer a zero-emission delivery alternative. The quality of the ‘door-step’ service provided by riders is a top priority for e-cargobikes and appreciated by its customers.