Webinar recording: Cargo bikes for the last mile

By Platform

On 16 September 2021, the Policy Learning Platform held the fourth webinar of the cycling cities webinar series, focused on cargo bikes for the last mile

Support to cargo bikes is growing among EU cities and regions committed to decarbonising urban deliveries and greening people’s mobility habits. Policymakers progressively discover cargo bikes as a suitable alternative to internal combustion engine vehicles that contribute to traffic congestion, poor air quality, road accidents and harm the climate. Evidence indeed shows that cargo bikes are about 60% faster and emit 90% less CO2 than diesel vans and suggest they could even guarantee over 50% of urban freight journeys in Europe.

But for cargo-bikes to overtake motorised road freight vehicles, public policy choices leading to profound urban mobility and planning transformations need to be made, like access restrictions in certain areas. In this respect, it is to be noted that only 28% webinar participants declared that their cities have enacted car transit bans during certain hours or established (ultra)low-emissions zones. Moreover, a not negligible 30% appears to have no pedestrian zone in their city centres.    

Over 110 participants joined this event that put the spotlight on guiding principles to set up cargo bike hubs for last urban mile deliveries and looked at regulatory, policy and financial solutions to create an enabling environment for cargo-bikes. You can watch the recording below as well as access the presentations. 

Webinar recording

Webinar agenda overview

Navigate to the discussion topics of interest in the webinar agenda overview below.

00:01:27 Introduction to the topic of cycling and cargo bikes by Katharina Krell, low-carbon economy Thematic Expert.

00:08:40 Presentation by Tom Assmann , from the University of Magdeburg (Germany), on setting-up cargo bike hubs.

00:20:39 Q&A How much percent of traffic in cities is commercial?

00:21:34 Q&A Have you seen any examples where cargo hubs have been successfully introduced without any regulations?

00:26:21 Presentation by Gordana Kolesaric, from the Traffic Department in Maribor (Slovenia), who showcased how cargo bike delivery works in the city.

00:34:22 Q&A Who had the idea to set up cargo bike delivery services in Maribor as an intermediate entity?

00:36:43 Q&A What was the rationale to restrict the number of e-vehicles to one per business during the day?

00:39:27 Presentation by Frank Adentstadt, head of the Mobility Department in the district of Grafschaft Bentheim (Germany), about the Grafschafter Cargo Bike financial support scheme.

00:49:50 Q&A What type of companies asked for financial support schemes for cargo bikes?

00:52:10 Q&A Does the district of Grafschafter measure the CO2 emission savings enabled by the subsidies?

00:54:17 Presentation by Hayley Roche, from Milton Keynes Council (UK) and  beneficiary of the INTENSIFY Interreg Europe project, gave insights on e-cargo bikes and why they are good for businesses and beyond.

01:03:40 Q&A What are the conditions and how do you promote the lease scheme to get bikes for companies in Milton Keynes Council?

Panel discussion

01:07:52 Q&A Which is the easiest to implement and which one do you think has the best social-economic environmental impact?

01:10:58 Q&A What group of cargo bike users would you prefer to target?

01:13:58 Q&A What are the quantitative effects in terms of model shift and vans replacement when working on introducing cargo bikes?

01:15:50 Q&A If the city wants to claim somehow the CO2 reductions that are associated with the policy measure of supporting cargo biking introduction, how can they do it and how do you quantify it?

01:20:50 Q&A What seems to be the maximum that each cargo bike can do for the cargo bike delivery to be more efficient than other types of delivery?

Key Learnings

From this webinar, we can highlight some major insights for local and regional policymakers and urban mobility experts:

  • Mobility policy has different options to promote cargo bikes, and different measures impact different target groups and types of traffic:
    • Introduce access restriction and provide space for cargo bike transhipment hubs: this impacts logistics companies’ parcel delivery last mile (e.g. online orders delivered to homes & business).
    • Introduce access restrictions and support the setup of intermediate non-for-profits to offer cargo bike logistics locally at a cost: this impacts both inbound traffic form logistics companies as well as local companies or entities carrying or delivering goods inside the city.
    • Introduce grants to purchase cargo bikes for local businesses, purchase cargo bikes for public sector’s own use, offer cargo bike lease schemes to local companies: this impacts local companies or entities carrying or delivering goods inside the city.
  • Cargo bikes are a game changer! Zero-emission, environmentally friendly and much less involved in road accidents than cars and vans, cargo bikes can transform last mile urban deliveries when supported by transshipment hubs, connecting suburbs and city centres.
  • Collaborative planning between administrations and logistics companies is essential to ensure the best possible location and design of cargo bike transshipment hubs, which may come in all shapes and sizes, according to local needs and peculiarities.
  • Experience shows that logistics companies are embracing cargo bike schemes with transshipment hubs in anticipation of tougher restrictions for internal combustion engine vehicles.
  • To speed up cycle logistics, it is advisable to set up stakeholder working groups, adopt access restriction regulations, establish ultra-low emission zones or car free districts, provide affordable and well-located space for micro-hubs and recruit logistics experts in your urban planning department.
  • Driven by goal of reducing CO2 emissions from on road freight transport the City of Maribor (Slovenia) decided to regulate the deliveries of goods in its pedestrian zone by granting daytime access to cargo bikes and EVs only. The City actively engaged with stakeholders and retailers to ensure acceptance of this measure, which had an indirect and positive ‘side effect’: creating ideal conditions for social enterprises to perform bike deliveries. Interesting for policymakers aiming at more green jobs in their communities!  
  • With cycling counting for 30% of its modal share, the Grafschaft Bentheim District (Germany) is a true bicycle stronghold! Policymakers can learn from it how to subsidise the purchase of (e-)cargo bikes and trailers via an SMEs accessible scheme that is financially sustainable in the long term and that is receiving a great response. In the District cargo bikes are becoming the preferred mobility option of many companies and their employees.
  • To make zero-emission last mile deliveries a real fixture in your city and region, holistic thinking must be adopted. Start like the Milton Keynes Council (UK) by building a small e-cargo-bike fleet for public employees. Then make them available to volunteers who can run services like the last mile redistribution of surplus food from local restaurants and lease them to micro-SMEs committed to improving local livability by reducing carbon emissions.

The 5th edition of this webinar series is scheduled on 23 September 2021. You are welcome to join and find out more on cost-benefit analysis of bicycles versus cars for local and regional policymakers.

Registrations are open!

Urban mobility & planning experts wanted!

In the context of an upcoming interregional online peer review for the Kilkenny County Council (Ireland), we are looking for experts in urban mobility and planning. Read more in our call for experts!

Should you be available on 3-4 November and ready to share your expertise during an intensive 2-day peer-to-peer meeting, do not hesitate to fill in this short questionnaire and let us know by 23 September.

We look forward to your submissions!

Sustainable mobility
Urban mobility