In Manchester, cargo bike company Zedify and not-for-profit enterprise Chorlton Bike Deliveries have partnered to create a green transport network, with the aim of showcasing an alternative, cleaner way of delivering goods which benefits people’s health and the local environment.
The collaboration has opened logistics hubs in South Manchester, Chorlton Precinct and Moss Side. The locations were selected as they were either in “one of Manchester’s most thriving communities” or located close to the city centre, Trafford and Salford.
The partnership hopes to combine local expertise, knowledge and contacts with a “winning” cargo-bikes logistics model, to help achieve a less congested, less polluted, and more liveable city.
“We are launching in Manchester to fundamentally change the way deliveries take place across the city, helping to make it a better place for everyone,” explained Jon Williams, CCO at Zedify.
Zedify currently operates in 11 cities across the UK including London, Edinburgh, Bristol, and Cambridge. It specialises in last mile deliveries for several national customers such as Zara and Freddie’s Flowers. They also work with hundreds of local businesses.
Within 18-24 months of launching in Manchester, they expect to be making around 190,000 deliveries, twice what they deliver in Bristol each year. This equates to an annual CO2 savings of around 67 tonnes.
According to the sustainable delivery firm, congestion costs the UK economy £6.9bn each year, with vans and HGVs responsible for 32% of UK transport’s carbon emissions.
The potential of cargo bikes
One of the benefits of cargo bikes, and their electric-assisted models, is the ability to navigate and reduce congestion. Their size, manoeuvrability, and access to areas vans can not go makes them perfect for busy urban environments.
A study by the University of Westminster used GPS data to compare cargo bikes with vans operating in London. It found that cargo bikes were 1.6 times faster than traditional delivery vans. It also highlighted that cargo bikes could deliver seven parcels an hour compared to four in a van. With no need to find a parking space, valuable time can be spent on delivering.
While the sustainability argument for these two-wheeled delivery modes will certainly be of interest to retailers and carriers alike, the chance to increase speed of delivery will certainly drive adoption of cargo bikes for last mile delivery.
It is unsurprisingly then that DHL, DPD, Evri and FedEx are all adding cargo bikes to their fleets, with ecommerce giant Amazon also combing bikes and EVs at its first UK micromobility hub.
Furthermore, Ikea is ensuring that the electricity powering its latest e-cargo bike is renewable as it pilots solar-powered cargo bikes. Sustainable logistics provider Urb-it has also partnered with Dutch-based solar-powered e-cargo trike manufacturer Need the Globe to test its world-first SunRider e-cargo trike in Glasgow.
There will of course be questions around the limitations of cargo bikes, such as they will not be able to carry the same payload as vans. Also concerns around the wider gig economy will need to be addressed, with a serious look at issues that workers in the cargo bike sector face daily.
But Green Alliance stressed that e-cargo bikes can in fact improve productivity and are an “exciting solution”. In fact, the think tank has called on the Department for Transport to provide financing for rental schemes to be administered through local authorities. With loans available for several weeks or months to allow businesses to realise the social, environmental and commercial benefits.
Read more: These cargo bikes solutions can only work due to a network of urban logistics hubs, which were recently explored in the DeliveryX Warehousing 2023 report. Discover how the rolling-out of cargo bikes is also driving businesses to rethink their fulfilment operations.