Cargo Bikes – The Next Big Thing?

There are always a few ideas floating around the courier office about new equipment or services. The latest is the Cargo Bike.

It’s not a new concept. In fact, it’s an old and tried method that parents used to cart their kids around. However, over the past few years they’ve become the SUVs of the bike world. You can even get cargo scooters.

A Courier Revolution?

Cargo bikes were used in Holland in the 19th century by tradesmen looking to deliver everything from milk and bread and meat. It wasn’t long before they took off around the world, including the UK and USA.

The car put paid to any monopoly on this. But they are still used a lot in Asia and Africa.

City Solutions

Cities are always going to be bursting at the seams. Manchester is a case in point, with the current plans to pedestrianise Oxford Road. So the use of cars for individual transportation and hauling will become harder. Having a utilitarian vehicle such as the cargo bike could make perfect sense.

No wonder it’s high on the green agenda. Cargo Bikes was at the top at the annual summit of the International Transport Forum in Leipzig, Germany, where 52 countries talked about how it could be used in place of their motorised counterparts, particularly for the final stages of delivery inside crowded cities.

It could pay to look at green solutions and it does, of course, offer another more retro image of the bike courier, which can only be a good thing. Rather than picturing streets full jammed full of vans and lorries, the humble bicycle could see it’s glory days once more.

Interesting. It could be like a green revolution happening before our eyes.

A New Trend

Yes we think the cargo bike is a really good idea for short haul journeys. There’s no doubting that. So it does have an appeal to the courier industry and could improve our service. Although I’m not sure they’d fill a gap for us yet. And while I’m not sure the bike freight would take over the truck, but there are those that do.

The Americans for example love a good Cargo bike. They use them for hauling loads, to individual entrepreneurs incorporating them into their businesses and people who use them for practical everyday purposes, such as transporting kids and groceries.

And aside from pollution, noise and traffic, there is also a safety benefit. Big lorries on narrow city streets equal accidents. In London an estimated 50% of cyclist fatalities in recent years came in collisions with lorries.

So it’s something we need to keep on our radar.

Need A Push?

Perhaps one important point to consider is that many of new designs will have electric-assistance technology to help climb hills. A necessary cheat perhaps when you are pedalling a big load.

But will they help improve our courier service?

Well, over short distances, carrying loads too big for conventional courier bikes, the cargo could out-perform vans. On the other hand they could just be a novelty – used more for family days out than our professional services. Yes, maybe the Cargo Bike is more for riding with friends and for personal haulage?

The jury is still out. Needless to say these are all questions we are pondering over our morning tea and coffee, afternoon biscuits and pit-stops between jobs.

Cargo Bikes Go or No – Have Your Say

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