Council and business Covid-19 transport planning requires ‘urgent scale-up of e-cargo bike use’

As councils adjust to the ‘new normal’ with authorisation and funding from central government to create up pop-up bike lanes and widen footways while restricting car use in cities, calls have been made to enable an urgent increase in the use of e-cargo bikes.

To stay competitive, delivery companies, facilities managers, service engineers and construction firms are being prompted to urgently rethink their logistics plans, shifting vehicle movements to e-cargo bikes in and around cities.

Just Ride the Bike, an active travel consultancy, is engaged with the City of London Corporation, Phil Jones Associates and PedalMe to fast track an e-cargo bike pilot scheme for companies needing to maintain freight service levels in a post-lockdown UK.

Encouraged by the £2bn long-term package to put cycling and walking at the heart of transport policy announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, many local authorities are already rolling out measures to make it harder for vehicles to access dense urban areas. Support service providers with a business model reliant on using motorised transport for mobile response teams or mobile engineers will need to adapt fast; the attractive, cost-efficient, and environmentally-sound option is to move as many journeys as achievable to e-cargo bikes.

The City of London Corporation, which was already seeking to mitigate the impact of freight and servicing activity in the Square Mile, are now having to consider this in the context of supporting socially distant travel for over half a million employees.

The City of London’s 25-year Transport Strategy seeks to reduce the number of motorised freight and servicing vehicles by 30% by 2044 – with 90% of this activity to take place outside peak hours. With half of vans estimated to be undertaking servicing activity in the City, their strategy commits to developing a sustainable servicing plan to reduce the number of motor vehicles required to undertake this essential activity.

Just Ride the Bike is calling for service providers to shift their operations from vans to e-cargo bikes as soon as possible to adapt to emergency transport planning measures, maintain productivity and pursue a sustainable servicing plan. High-tech e-assist cargo bikes can move loads of up to 150kg, even without a trailer.

Organisations such as FedEx, DHL, Co-op, the Royal Mail, and the NHS (for blood supplies) are already using e-cargo bikes for the last mile of their deliveries.

Dr David Land of Just Ride the Bike explained: “Our standard research model develops a strong business case leading to a e-cargo bike pilot scheme that we manage, measuring performance and assessing productivity. But the call from the Dept of Transport and plans of farsighted local authorities such as the City of London make that business case much more urgent. We want to work with service providers such as facilities managers, estates teams and building services organisations to set up a pilot scheme right now. This will show how they can easily adapt to deliver business continuity, whilst delivering sustainable logistics and service support.”

Across the UK councils are making rapid plans; some cities and regions are further ahead than others. But the objective is the same: reduce vehicle traffic and prioritise walking and bike riding.

“Facilities managers, builders and service engineers need to adapt now because this change is likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future. We want to facilitate that change by setting up scalable pilot schemes as soon as possible,” said Dr Land.

Contact andrew@justridethebike.com 07795 547069 for further information or to be part of a pilot.