Electric cargo bikes deliver about 60% faster than delivery vans in city centers, a study shows. The bikes, according to the study, had a higher average speed and delivered ten parcels per hour, compared to six for the vans. It is true that delivery vans can travel at a higher speed than cargo bikes. However, they are hampered by traffic jams and also spend a lot of time looking for parking space.

GPS data

Cargo bikes bypass those traffic jams. They take back roads through streets closed to through traffic and drive almost literally to the customer’s doorstep. The study used GPS data from the cargo bike company Pedal Me, which is active within a radius of about fifteen kilometers from the center of London. The researchers compared the deliveries on 100 randomly chosen days with the routes that vans would have taken to get the packages to the customers. They found that the cargo bikes saved nearly four tons of CO2 over that period, even taking into account the food consumed by the riders.

Reduce CO2 emissions

Home deliveries have increased sharply in recent years due to the growth of online shopping and the corona pandemic. The increase in the distribution of goods also causes an increase in air pollution. It was already much too high in many urban areas. Air pollution can be significantly reduced by using cargo bikes. Cargo bikes also provide 90% less CO2 emissions compared to vans with a diesel engine. The CO2 emissions are also a third less than those of electric vans.

Incentives needed

CO2 emissions from transport have hardly fallen over the past ten years. It represents a major challenge for many countries. However, a reduction in CO2 emissions is necessary to achieve the targets to combat the climate crisis. That’s why the British government recently announced a 30% increase in subsidies to encourage Britons to cycle and walk more. But according to the report’s authors, the government should also consider lowering the VAT rate on cargo bike deliveries and allowing the use of more powerful e-bikes.

“Recent estimates from Europe suggest that up to 51% of all freight journeys in cities could be replaced by the cargo bike,” said Ersilia Verlinghieri of the Active Travel Academy at the University of Westminster and lead author of the report.

“So it’s remarkable to see that, if even part of this shift were to take place in London, it would not only be associated with a drastic reduction in CO2 emissions, but also contribute to a significant reduction in risks. from air pollution and road collisions, while at the same time ensuring an efficient, fast and reliable urban freight system.”

cargo bike delivery electric DHL


Hirra Khan Adeogun of the climate movement Possible, which commissioned the report with funding from the KR Foundation, said: “We’ve seen home deliveries skyrocket during the lockdowns and that trend is likely to continue. We urgently need to step on the brakes and again evaluate how we move goods through our cities. Cargo bikes are a solution that we must support.”

Not just London

“These benefits are not just specific to London: the 100,000 cargo bikes that hit the roads in Europe between 2018 and 2020 are estimated to save as much CO2 each month as it takes to fly around 24,000 people from London to New York and back,” the report said.

We are also seeing more and more cargo bikes in the Netherlands. Not only for the delivery of meals and mail, but also parcels and other goods are increasingly delivered by cargo bike. However, Dutch legislation is not yet geared to this. Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, the outgoing Minister of Infrastructure & Water Management, also wants to allow these types of vehicles on bike paths and recently presented a new bill for LEVs (Light Electric Vehicles). Cargo bikes in the Netherlands would then be allowed to have a maximum total weight of 425 kg. They can be a maximum of 3 meters in length and only be driven by persons 18 years and older.

Cargo bike delivery electric Coolblue


Electric vans are becoming more common. But they still make up a very small part of the 4 million vans on the road. Other research has shown that cargo bikes are more cost-effective than delivery vans. That is, if the delivery distances and the size of the packages are small. Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Last time we looked at the use of vans, we found that while the delivery vehicles made up only a small part of the van fleet, they covered a disproportionate amount of mileage. are mainly looking at economic motives, but they also increasingly have to account for their environmental and safety performance. Cargo bikes can take over a number of tasks from vans and contribute to improving air quality.”


Photo 1: Radkutsche
Photo 2: DHL
Photo 3: Coolblue

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