Pollution fears accelerate cargo bikes

Mounting concern over the impact of emissions on the health of city residents is driving a major switch to cargo bikes for local logistics.

And with the latest electric assist technology, cargo ebikes, can now tote loads that can make a serious dent in provisioning city residents and businesses.

In recent years a number of major cities in Europe have found themselves periodically exceeding acceptable pollution levels, and diesel delivery vans are a major factor.

City authorities, faced with serious and costly legal repercussions for breaches of air quality, are pushing for fewer motor vehicles on the streets.

This has created an opportunity for investment in larger, specialist cargo bike delivery operations.

Several existing firms in the UK have recently consolidated to form a new fully-charged cargo ebike firm, Zedify, that wears its zero-emissions credentials on its jersey sleeve.

Co-founder Rob King says the last leg of delivery journeys is responsible for a significant proportion of air pollution as diesel vans criss-cross towns, making countless short journeys, dropping off millions of packages.

“Demand for deliveries to door and desk is booming, but our cities just can’t cope with ever-increasing numbers of diesel vans contributing to the toxic mix of poor air-quality and increased congestion,” he says.

“Businesses, especially retailers, need to step up and decouple the last mile of their deliveries to more sustainable services – which Zedify now enables them to do.”

Big improvements in electric bike technology mean that Zedify’s couriers can now transport 250kg around even the hilly streets of somewhere like Edinburgh with relative ease. EU research on cycle logistics has found that around 60 per cent of deliveries in cities could be made my cargo bike.

Using a zero-emissions courier is also a sensible choice for businesses who want to keep in line with the values of their customers, says King’s co-founder, Sam Kean.

“A whopping 90 per cent of millennial shoppers say they prefer to buy from companies with a social or environmental purpose,” he says.

“If their online order arrives by bike, then that’s a big, and very visual, statement. For the first time, progressive brands can deliver the environmentally friendly services their customers demand, while maintaining their expectations around cost and speed.”