Fully Charged and Energy Saving Trust Inaugural eCargo Bike Summit

 

This September, MP Smarter Travel had the pleasure of speaking at Fully Charged’s, first ever eCargo Bike Summit alongside a wide range of commercial cargo bike operators, active travel experts and the Energy Saving Trust (EST), facilitators of the Department for Transport’s current eCargo bike grant.

 

London air quality

Air pollution in the UK has now been above legal limits for 10 years, not least of which is caused by the number of motorised last-mile deliveries on our streets. According to the Mayor of London’s office, 36 per cent of trips made in London are under 2km (that’s 1.25 miles), a distance that could be walked in around 30 minutes. What’s more, research conducted by King’s College London found that 99 per cent of Londoners live in areas where pollution exceeds guidelines recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Businesses need to act to help reduce air pollution, yet despite the number of research reports and overwhelming evidence of London’s poor air quality, many businesses are still unaware of the zero-emission transport options that exist across the capital and nationally. For this reason, we feel it is key that as many people and businesses hear about eCargo bikes as possible.

 

eCargo bike summit 

Fully Charged and EST’s event consisted of several inspiring and thought-provoking talks from experts in the industry ready to take up the gauntlet and combat air pollution. 

Recently, the EST, in partnership with the Department for Transport, launched a £400k fund whereby businesses could receive up to 40 per cent off the cost of an eCargo bike. Rachel Swiatek from the EST attended the event and gave an insightful look into the nuts and bolts of the fund, showing how businesses can apply. The 40 per cent saving makes for a compelling economic argument to offset the initial cost of eCargo bikes for businesses! 

Following this, Dan Parsons, Founding Partner of Fully Charged, was joined by a panel of experts including Farah Asemi (Ecofleet), Tom de Wilton (Oxwash) and MP Smarter Travel’s Head of Consulting Oli Ivens, for an open question and answer session. Discussions focused on the opportunities, challenges and the future of commercial eCargo bike adoption.  

Tom de Wilton described how eCargo bikes require lower upfront and running cost in comparison to diesel/petrol vans. eCargo bikes also offer more time-efficient deliveries. Both economic and environmental factors were instrumental in Oxwash choosing an eCargo bike fleet for their laundry services across Cambridge, London and Oxford. The fact that 6,700kg of CO2 is saved per eCargo bike, compared to vans, echoed the environmental benefits of their fleet adoption. 

Farah Asemi acknowledged that the transient nature of rider staff can be a hurdle for third-party operators and stressed the importance of having a steady pool of riders in order to meet schedule demands. In addition to this, a robust software platform was also recognised as essential in keeping delivery operations on schedule.  

Several key factors were discussed in continuing the commercial growth of eCargo bikes. Oli Ivens identified that transport policy is becoming increasingly conducive to supporting active modes, such as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) and the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion. Brownfield sites in urban centres will continue to provide a tangible solution in locating new consolidation hubs, which will be instrumental in ensuring last-mile efficiency in the coming years. 

We also learnt that last year in the Netherlands and Germany, there were more ebikes sold than standard cycles and that Germany is experiencing a 50 per cent year-on-year growth in the cargo bike market. In our view, a growing eCargo bike sector, with a greater variety of professional operators is key to bringing eCargo bikes into the mainstream.  

 

Business engagement 

MP Smarter Travel deliver award-winning projects across the UK that work to accelerate the uptake of eCargo bikes. Through MP Smarter Travel’s business engagements, we have found that companies are putting a stronger preference on their environmental image and CSR and therefore require clean alternatives to their existing polluting vehicles. From the content of discussion at the eCargo Bike Summit, it would appear that eCargo bike operators are primed and ready to lead the way in reducing urban air pollution and providing businesses with a tangible solution to improving their environmental image. eCargo bike operators are extremely professional outfits, promoting high quality rider training, environmental accreditations, delivery tracking and insurance. With both the environmental and economic arguments supporting eCargo bikes, we expect to see a gradual increase in eCargo bike take up over the coming years. If you would like to see eCargo bike take up accelerated in your area, contact MP Smarter Travel to discuss the best approach.     

 

Watch the Q&A online 

Watch the full question and answer session online and see how cargo bikes could benefit your business or businesses in your area.