Pedal power to take more goods to the customer, people to work and kids to the nursery
June 17, 2019
It is the technology that is changing the face of the school drop-off. At many London primary schools, alongside the children arriving in cars, on bikes and by scooter, a growing number are arriving strapped into the boxes of cargo bikes — high-capacity, load-carrying bikes or tricycles that are also an increasingly popular, environmentally friendly and efficient means of delivering goods.
The rise of this apparently old-fashioned technology suggests to many observers that, despite the widespread excitement about the prospects for self-driving cars and air taxis, the future of mobility in old and crowded cities is likely to be powered by human muscle.
The cargo bikes — which often resemble overgrown versions of the traditional tradesperson’s delivery bike — are only one manifestation of a revival of cycling that has also featured a proliferation of normal bicycles, both purely manual and electrically assisted.
The Muli and Tern bikes on display at cycle chain Velorution’s flagship store on London’s Great Portland St are designed to allow parents to take their children to school or nursery. While the Muli M18 — a relatively lightweight family cargo bike — is purely manual, the Tern GSD on sale at Velorution has twin batteries and can carry two children on the rear and a substantial load on a rack in front of the rider.
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Improvements in both battery and electric motor technology are transforming the capabilities of such machines, according to Jonathan Cole, the retailer’s executive chairman. “Whereas before they were manual and you had to have a really big chap riding them, you now have electric cargo bikes.”
Business has led the way here. Daniel Levan-Harris, chief executive of Mango Logistics Group, is bullish about the cutting-edge vehicles he has purchased for his business, which specialises in moving goods over the last few miles to customers in central London.
He expects the new vehicles, which Mango has been using for the past nine months, gradually to supplant the diesel vans that perform many of the company’s drops and provide a more efficient, greener service.
The Urban Arrow cargo bike used by Mango is capable of moving up to 250kg of goods at a time but has only two wheels and so slips easily past traffic jams and down cycle tracks, according to Mr Levan-Harris. “I think the future would be pedal power, rather than drones or driverless cars,” Mr Levan-Harris says.
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Pedal power to take more goods to the customer, people to work and kids to the nursery June 17, 2019 It is the technology that is changing the face of the school drop-off. At many London primary schools, alongside the children arriving in cars, on bikes and by scooter, a growing number are arriving strapped… [Read More]