£2 million for last mile as trialed in Greenwich


Can e-cargo bikes help realise a greener future for cities? The Royal Borough of Greenwich thinks so. In a bid to reduce carbon emissions and counter the increasing impact of diesel delivery vans on the environment, Royal Greenwich have completed a six-month e-cargo bike trial with local butcher Drings. Over six months, Drings Butchers ditched the more traditional delivery modes for 95% of its local deliveries of up to 5kms, in favour of a nimble e-cargo bike as part of the European Union funded Sharing Cities programme, and in partnership with the Mayor of London’s Low Emission Neighbourhood programme.

Not surprisingly, during the trial, a single delivery by the e-cargo bike to a nearby cafe proved to be four minutes faster than by delivery van, and emitted just 4g of CO2 compared to 614g by van. The e-cargo bike can handle large and heavy loads of up to 200kg and is already helping to improve the environment and reduce congestion and noise pollution in the area. The bike can travel on quieter routes away from rush hour traffic, supporting Drings to save money on fuel costs and build more flexibility into delivery times for customers.

And the benefits extend beyond environmental impacts. Staff who were given the opportunity to take part in the trial felt happier and healthier thanks to a more active travel mode. The trial was delivered by walking and cycling charity Sustrans in partnership with Royal Borough of Greenwich, Riese and Muller, Bosch, Cycledelik and Imperial College London, and has been Highly Commended for a London Transport Award under the category of ‘Contribution to Sustainable Transport’.

The next stage of the e-cargo bike project in Greenwich involves taking these results to other local businesses and signing up nine additional businesses to the scheme. As well as being able to trial the e-cargo bike, businesses that sign up will receive a 50% discount on the purchase of a new e-cargo bike, bespoke training and journey planner and a personalised monitoring strategy that will compare costs, time, Co2 emission and customer experience of their existing delivery systems versus e-logistics. The expansion of the scheme is anticipated to increase further the benefits to the local area.

Sharing Cities in Greenwich recognises the great potential for e-cargo bikes, which could transform delivery for many local businesses, moving people and goods around as efficiently as possible, while also helping to tackle congestion and poor air quality. By encouraging more use of e-mobility on city streets, Sharing Cities is offering a glimpse into London’s zero emission future.

The Greenwich trial is part of a wider e-mobility scheme being delivered as part of Sharing Cities, including e-cars and e-car charging points. Sharing Cities hopes that e-cargo bikes can play a massive role in the towns and cities of the future.

E-mobility is one of 10 measures that Sharing Cities’ demonstration cities are implementing in areas across Milan, Lisbon and Greenwich. Other measures include building retrofit, citizen engagement, urban sharing platforms and smart lampposts.

This comes as the UK government launch a £2 million investment programme to put a big dent in the estimated economic loss of £8 billion caused by congestion in the UK economy in 2018. 

Encouraging electric delivery bikes on will cut traffic and improve air quality, and will make the case for the important role these vehicles could play in the zero emission future of Europe.

The boom in internet shopping over the past few years has led to a huge increase in the number of diesel vans choking up the city streets. In the last year alone spending online in the UK increased by 15.3% and the latest road traffic estimates indicate van traffic increased by 4.7% to 49.5 billion vehicle miles in 2016. As well as cargo bikes, 16 of the UK’s largest van fleet operators have signed up to the 'clean van commitment' in a bid to go electric.

The decision to fund e-cargo bikes was the result of a participatory process, 'the last mile call for evidence,' which asked for views on how the UK government could harness the opportunities for greener delivery in the commercial and residential parts of cities and towns.


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This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement N°691895

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