#EV19: EU van sales booming despite dieselgate, cargo bikes are a solution says industry body

IMAGE: Morten Kabell, CEO of Copenhagenize, explains how a Copenhagen hospital safes time and money by transporting blood samples by cargo bicycle.

— Cargo bicycle boom dependent on reallocating road space to cycling says experts.

Deliveries and provision of services by cargo bicycle by vans can help improve air quality and congestion, be faster and better for business, but a potential explosion in cargo bicycle use needs safer cycle paths.

Kevin Mayne, CEO of the Cycling Industries Europe, said that cargo bicycles are still associated with child carrying and said business use is the “biggest untapped potentate for cargo bikes”.

He was speaking at the European Cycle Logistics Federation Conference 2019 this morning, while is a pre-conference event ahead of the Velo-city conference which starts fully tomorrow. Velo-city, the European Cyclists’ Federation’s annual conference, is expected to attract around 1,200 delegates to Dublin — a mix of cycling industry companies, government officials and campaigners.

Mayne said that “This is Europe’s dirty little secret and it’s not exactly little. Light commercial vehicle sales — diesel — are untouched by dieselgate.”

“Where private cars sales of diesel has collapsed” said Mayne, sales of diesel vans are “booming”. He said: “Nobody wants this boom — nobody wants this in their city. Nobody wants the air quality and congestion issues that this bring.”

Morten Kabell, CEO of Copenhagenize and former mayor deputy of Copenhagen, highlighted how cargo bicycle use in Copenhagen includes blood deliverers between a hospital and medial labs — he said that the hospital management found that cargo bikes were faster and more reliable and saved them money.

Said other use in the city ranged from before the start of life to the end of it, and everything in between — a sperm bank using cargo bikes to transport samples, an undertaker business which has recently expanded to two cargo bikes, and child care businesses bringing children to different locations.

Segregated cycling infrastructure, Moten said “is extremely important especially if we want it thrive… getting around on a cargo bike, just as getting around on a normal bicycle, needs to be safe. Having safe protected infrastructure is key.”

Richard Armitage, executive director of European Cycle Logistics Federation, said: “If this is going to work, it has to be business-like.” He said that business models could be “enabled” by Government but the business would not work if they needed to be subsided in the long term. He used Cyclone, a Dublin-based courier, as a successful example of a business using cargo bikes.

But he said that there’s many issues. One example he used in public procurement tenders are written in a way which a van is a prescribed part of tenders issued and potential bidders don’t have the opportunity to bid to the same work with cargo bike.

He added: “Relocating road space to cycling has to happen or we’re not going to get anywhere.”

In recent years Dublin City Council has started to trial sustainable deliveries hubs using a former coach parking space near Henery Street. As part of this UPS has transports a large cargo container to the parking space and makes deliveries by foot and on cargo bike from the hub location. The city is now expanding the hub concept trial to include five companies.

Besides Cyclone and UPS, other delivery services using cargo bicycles in Dublin include Deadline, Wheels Couriers, and Pony Express. An Post, the national postal services, is also trialing the use of cargo bikes in Dublin and Lonford.

Other businesses using cargo bicycles in Dublin include Offbeat Donut Co, The Pig & Heifer Restaurant, the Bretzel Bakery, and Deliveroo.

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

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