Interested in exercising your legs while working? Europe seems to be experiencing a growth opporunity for cargo cyclists, in a conscious move towards sustainable, free-flowing city traffic. The European Union funded pilot project, CycleLogistics, aims to reduce energy used in urban freight transport by replacing unnecessary motorized vehicles with cargo bicycles in several European cities. The project looks to expand the niche marketplace of cargo cycles, so they will be viewed as a competitive means of transport for goods in the city center. With modest electrical assistance, loads can carry up to as much as 550 lbs.
Research indicates that at least one quarter of all cargo traffic in European cities could potentially be handled by cyclists. And, by using special distribution hubs, larger vehicles and electric assistance, this proportion could become even larger. Cargo transport in cities is extremely inefficient. Currently, almost 100 percent of it is done by motorized vehicles – ranging from personal cars to commercial delivery vans and trucks and these heavy vehicles often transport very light goods (weight wise). The average payload transported in European cities weighs less than 100 kg (220 lbs).
The German Federal Ministry for the Environment has set up the “Ich ersetze ein Auto” project that began in July 2012. Unlike the EU-supported project its focus is exclusively on courier services by making use of electric assist cargo cycles. Forty vehicles will be used for two years in nine major German cities. The cargo bikes can carry a load of around 100 kg (220lbs).
The potential of the cargo bicycle is uncertain, as there is little research and evidence to support it. The possibilities of cargo cycles for mass adoption will depend on the city layout (it’s taken off mainly in flat cities) and works mainly in Europe due to large historical centers with narrow streets, while American city roadways are much wider. It’ll be very interesting to see the results in years to come.