Apr 3, 2019, 07:01pm
Ahead of the introduction on April 8th of the ambitious Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), London is seeking to reduce the number of vans clogging its streets by encouraging, instead, the use of cargobikes.
In the UK, van traffic has grown by 71% over the last 20 years, compared to growth of 13% for cars. This has congestion and clean air ramifications for cities.
A “Bikes for Business” program will be launched later today by Team London Bridge, a Business Improvement District which has 400 members in the London Bridge area, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, News UK, Imperial War Museum, and Network Rail.
The behavior change program is supported by the local government body Transport for London (TfL) and is being delivered by transport consultancy MP Smarter Travel. It is hoped that 15% of businesses will switch their central London deliveries from diesel-powered vans to cargo bikes.
Bikes for Business will operate a subsidy scheme for the purchase of cargobikes. Nationally, a subsidy scheme to offset the cost of buying electric cargobikes was launched on Monday. The £2 million eCargo Bike Grant Fund was created by the Department for Transport and is delivered by the Energy Saving Trust. Businesses can save 20% of the purchase price of an e-cargobike, up to a threshold of £5,000.
The Bikes for Business program will show firms that switching to cargobikes for freight reduces costs and journey times.
Known in the logistics industry as LEFVs – or light electric freight vehicles – e-cargobikes have electric pedal assistance and can be ridden on roads and on cycleways. In many cities an e-cargobike is far faster than a van.
Quicker by bike than van in Amsterdam
E-cargobikes can weave through gridlocked motor traffic, and can often be wheeled into drop-off destinations rather than parking illegally, a problem endemic to van deliveries. According to research by the municipality of Amsterdam, the average loading and unloading time for delivery vans and lorries is 12 minutes – the same amount of freight can be unloaded from an e-cargobike in as little as three minutes.
The cost to the London economy of congestion caused by incidents resulting from driver behavior was estimated to be £137 million in 2016, of which over half was estimated to be from freight vehicles. The London economy could save in the region of £10m per year if all areas followed the lead of London Bridge, states Bikes for Business.
Pedal powered cargobikes and e-cargobikes will be exempt from the steep ULEZ charges that begin on 8th April.
In a statement, Team London Bridge CEO Nadia Broccardo, said:
The introduction of ULEZ and our Bikes for Business subsidy is a real opportunity to rethink how best to move freight over short distances in the capital. From groceries to medical supplies, cargo bikes can help businesses cut costs and journey times, as well as pollution that is blighting life in London.”
Guy’s Hospital in Southwark, close to London Bridge, is to trial cargo bikes in partnership with its pathology provider, Viapath. The Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust is aiming to design out 90% of its diesel-powered freight deliveries.
Commuting by e-bike
In other e-bike news released today, Shimano has released the results of a large poll that looked at people’s willingness to commute to work by e-bike. Asking over 14,000 people across ten E.U. countries, Shimano found that 24% of European commuters would consider switching to e-bikes. Almost half of the population of the Netherlands would commute to work by e-bike, while 39% of people in Spain and 33% in Italy would make the switch.
“We’re seeing huge growth in the e-bike market across Europe and this research highlights the likelihood of widespread adoption of e-bikes to commute to work in the future,” said Jeroen Van Vulpen, Shimano’s brand manager for the Japanese firm’s Steps e-bike system.
However, in the U.K. only 11% of those asked said they would consider switching from cars to e-bikes.
This finding and more will be discussed at the B2B E-Bike Summit to be held at Oxford University on 10th April.