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Cargo bikes deliver parcels in city centres more quickly than vans, study finds


Cargo bikes can deliver parcels faster and more cleanly than vans in city centres, according to a study.

Freight bicycles performed 1.61 times quicker than services provided by four-wheeled vehicles, the study, commissioned by climate charity Possible, said.

Replacing vans with bikes could reduce delivery-related emissions by about 91 per cent, it added.

Demand for home delivery services rocketed during Covid lockdowns as people stayed home and ordered groceries and takeaway online.

And the trend appears to be lasting beyond lockdown.

Last month, food delivery app service Deliveroo reported an 88 per cent jump in quarterly food orders and raised its annual value forecasts.

Sainsbury’s said it was still seeing strong demand for home delivery.

The supermarket chain reported a 29 per cent increase in groceries bought online in the 16 weeks to 26 June, with two-year growth of 142 per cent.

In the study, which had funding help from the KR Foundation, researchers sampled 928 jobs undertaken by Pedal Me cargo bikes in 98 days between 3 June 2020 and 19 February 2021.

Using GPS data and computer modelling, experts analysed the speed of Pedal Me’s deliveries.

Pedal Me is a logistics company that works within a nine-mile radius of central London.

The analysis found that the vans covered a total distance of 17,400km compared with the bikes’ 16,450.

The bikes, which are aided by electricity, also had a higher average speed and performed more drop off’s per hour (seven vs four) and produced far fewer emissions (372kg v 4,268), according to the study.

“These benefits are not just specific to London, with the 100,000 cargo bikes introduced in Europe between 2018 and 2020 estimated to be saving, each month, the same amount of CO2 needed to fly about 24,000 people from London to New York and back,” the report said.

“Other research has shown that cargo bikes are more cost-effective than vans when delivery distances and parcel sizes are small.”

Hirra Khan Adeogun of Possible, said: “We’ve seen home deliveries skyrocket during the Covid lockdowns and that trend is likely to continue.

“We urgently need to put on the brakes and reevaluate how goods move through our cities. Cargo bikes are one solution that we need to get behind.”

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