CYCLE logistics: Moving goods by bicycle

Achieving concrete reduction in energy used for urban freight transport

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

cargo-bicycle_web As societies face urban congestion, rising fuel costs and increased air and noise pollution, using bicyles to move goods is now being seen a viable transport solution. This is clearly the idea behind CYCLE Logistics, the EU funded project being launched in May 2011.

“All modern sustainable companies and cities will incorporate delivery of goods by bikes in their logistic systems” proclaims Dr. Bernhard Ensink, Secretary General of the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), and one of the key partners involved in the project. The CYCLE logistics project will build upon this new trend of moving goods out of trucks and vans and onto bicycles.

Running from May 2011 to 2014 and spanning across 12 countries, this project will draw upon the expertise of local authorities, the private sector, cyclists’ groups, communications experts and energy agencies. With ECF as a main partner of this project, CYCLE logistics will strive to remove unnecessary motorized vehicles from roads by using more bikes to transport goods in city center across Europe.

A clear example of bikes being used as part of every-day business

“Currently, half of all trips in the city are related to the transportation of goods with light goods representing over a third of these trips”, explains ECF Project manager Dr. Randy Rzewnicki, noting that “there’s a huge potential for CYCLE logistics to shift these trips away from motorized vehicles and towards cycling-related solutions”.

Despite the mammoth task ahead of him, Rzewnicki is upbeat: “In Berlin, London, Paris, and many other cities elsewhere it’s happening already for business. Even for those who have the most efficient delivery networks, cycling solutions lead to increased efficiency”.

But, let's face it: this is not a new concept now. Baker's, butcher's, etc., used to do their deliveries around towns, villages and even part of the countryside by “cargo” cycles and the postal service, even in rural areas of the UK, for instance, has been using bicycles until they enlarged the delivery areas too much.

Germany has seen a return of the courier, as in DHL kind of, and also other delivery services, including grocery home deliveries, so I understand, on “cargo” cycles and also in Britain some small ventures have taken up that option once again.

On a larger scale, I should think, as far as Britain is concerned, the talk would be about needing “pilot” projects before, say, local authorities and such would take up this option of bicycle deliveries.

In other countries of Europe, for instance, this is happening and also other alternatives to car and truck are being used and not just “explored” such as horse-drawn dustcarts in a number of areas in France, including, so I understand, some districts of the capital.

According to reports from France the savings are huge in switching from the huge diesel-turbine trucks to horse and cart and even collection speeds do not seem to have suffered.

As far as deliveries in towns and cities are concerned if one considers that, due to the congestion, the traveling speed of a truck may be less than that of a bicycles, especially if cycle paths are available, deliveries by bike might just be rather a viable option, and maybe not just in towns and cities.

© 2011