The limitless potential of cargo bikes around the world

Jun 17, 2020, 09:31 AM

Taking various forms, with or without electric assistance, and allowing for the transport of both cargo and people, cargo bikes can provide solutions when it comes to environmental, logistical, traffic and social issues faced by cities around the world.


During the coronavirus pandemic, many examples have further illustrated their value and societal benefits, supporting people and organisations in need.  


Need further convincing? Cargo bikes are environmentally friendly, affordable and convenient, alleviate urban traffic congestion, improve family transportation, promote gender equality – and the list keeps going if you read the very practical 20 good reasons to ride a cargo bike developed by the team behind CycleLogistics / City Changer Cargo Bike EU project.


The City Changer Cargo Bike (CCCB) project builds on the ever-growing potential of cargo bikes by promoting their usage amongst public, private, and commercial users. Supported by the European Union’s Horizon2020 programme, CCCB brings together 22 partners from all over Europe, including cities, research institutions and NGOs. It raises awareness and supports the uptake of cargo bikes and cargo bike initiatives, while fostering developments that offer more sustainable logistics operations, improve public spaces, engage citizens, and reduce traffic congestion. The initiative also aims to get cargo bikes in European cities by developing new financing schemes and providing opportunities to test cargo bikes.


On Monday 15 June, the CCCB and the European Cyclists' Federation (ECF) hosted a webinar on the opportunities accessible by mayors and decision-makers to create healthier, greener and vibrant cities through cargo bikes. During the webinar, Morten Kabell, the co-CEO of ECF, shared practical advice for city officials in order to promote the use of cargo bikes, taken from A mayor’s guide to cargo bikes, a publication developed by the CCCB for mayors looking to develop healthier, more efficient and resilient cities, based on successful European case studies.


Cargo bikes heroes come to action during the corona crisis


During the COVID pandemic, the CCCB collected and shared stories of local cargo bike heroes; individuals and organisations which used two-wheeled power to not only deliver essential goods but also hope to local communities.


Among stated examples, the City of Lisbon has been using five CCCB cargo bikes to distribute food and medication, while Copenhagen has been using  medical cargo bikes to distribute blood and tissue samples in order to ease the strain on the medical system. In Vienna, the book shop Musial in Recklinghausen has been using its cargo bike to not only deliver books, but also to run daily errands for their neighbours. In Hamburg, the non-profit association StrassenBLUES e.V. delivered soup and a corona information magazine to homeless people via the cargo bike startup recycleheros. Finally, the company Urban Arrow has been working with its network in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and the UK to provide organisations, services and medical customers with free of charge demo-bikes for the delivery of vital products.


Free cargo bike rentals to supporting populations at risk in Switzerland


Since its launch in 2015, the Swiss carvelo2go e-cargo bike sharing platform – operated by the Touring Club Suisse (TCS) Mobility Academy  - has supported over 17,000 users and 46,000 journeys across Switzerland thanks to its fleet of more than 300 e-cargo bikes in 70 different cities.


In March 2020, to assist people at risk or affected by the coronavirus, the TCS made its entire fleet of e-cargo bikes free of charge to associations, companies or private individuals who volunteered to support people at risk. Numerous associations across the nation took advantage of this opportunity, delivering essential goods and services to families, producers and individuals in need. The UCI’s own carvelo2go e-cargo bike was used to support free grocery deliveries within the region surrounding the town of Aigle, where the UCI World Cycling Centre is located.


Elite Swiss cyclists also joined in with actions of solidarity, with Antoine Debons (Akros Excelsior rider) and Arnaud Rapillard (Swiss mountain bike rider) swapping training miles for volunteer journeys, both making home deliveries of various goods within their communities in the region of Valais. 


We leave the last word to ECF’s Morten Kabell: “There are many ways in which traffic has redefined human spaces, and cargo bikes can also contribute to fostering a more dynamic street life and community by engaging citizens.”