Timescales: 2011 onwards
There has been growing interest in the potential use of bicycles for urban freight delivery, particularly for the so-called ‘last mile’ in which goods are delivered to customers. The development and promotion of urban freight delivery using bicycles – also known as cycle logistics – was the aim of two projects supported by the European Commission’s Intelligent Energy for Europe programme. The projects, called Cyclelogistics and Cyclelogistics Ahead, included partners from various countries, including the Czech Republic and Hungary.
The increasing popularity of cycle logistics results from a number of potential benefits. From an economic perspective, bicycles are low cost alternatives to motorised delivery vehicles. Bicycles are also less affected by congestion and are allowed into car-free areas in many cities. The fact that bicycles are quiet and emit no pollutants also means that replacing motorised vehicles with bicycles delivers reductions in noise, air pollutants and CO2 emissions. Additionally, the fact that bicycle use does not require a licence means that a wider range of people can be employed as delivery cyclists.
As part of the Cyclelogistics project, a zero emissions distribution parcel delivery service was set up in the Hungarian capital Budapest. The GLS group worked with the city’s first bicycle courier company, Hajtás Pajtás Budapest, to set up the project. The latter was set up in 2013 and has since delivered 21 million letters and small parcels in the city. As a result if the collaboration between GLS and Hajtás Pajtás Budapest, all of GLS’s parcels are now distributed within central Budapest using zero emission modes. The smaller items are distributed from the main GLS distribution centre by cargobike, while electric tricycles deliver heavier items and an electric van delivers the heaviest.
In central Prague, two services deliver food using cargo bikes. The first, operated by Messenger, is a delivery service for take away food. Founded in 2014, the service responds to orders placed over the internet, or by smart phone, to deliver to an area of the city centre that has grown significantly since the service began. There is also a delivery service in the Czech capital that uses electric cargo bikes to deliver fresh vegetables from the city’s farmer markets. The service, operated by Czech Cargo Bicycles, delivers the vegetables to personal addresses and to restaurants in the city.
In the Romanian capital Bucharest, a bicycle courier service ‘Tribul’ was set up in 2012 to deliver small packages – that fit inside a backpack – within the city. In addition to its core business activity, the services aims to promote cycling and donates 40% of its profits to NGOs to further promote cycling. Also in Bucharest, an NGO ‘ViitorPlus’ has set up a cargo bike-based paper recycling service. The service operates in two of Bucharest’s six districts and has been well received by its customers. The project also has a social role, as the project aims to help people get back into work. Since the project began in 2009, it has collected more than 200 tonnes of paper and cardboard.