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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Europe’s Wonderful World Of Bike-Based Deliveries [FastCompany]


Why send loud, traffic-clogging, air-polluting trucks rumbling through our city streets when we could instead employ a network of cargo bikes? That’s the plan that an alliance of activists, logistics firms, and city officials are trying to put in place across Europe.

The last mile problem is simple to explain, but daunting to fix: It’s very easy to bring goods into cities (via plane, train, or truck), but it’s much harder to then bring the one thing you want to your house from the central point to which it was delivered. That last mile represents most of the inefficiency in the process. But is the future of last-mile delivery two wheels?
It is, according to a band of European activists, logistics firms, and city officials who say bikes are not just for fun, but also a legitimate, and wholly efficient, way of expediting the delivery of many goods.










The EU-funded alliance, called Cycle Logistics, says up to a quarter of urban deliveries could go via bike, if the necessary infrastructure and incentives were put in place. Bikes, it says, are a cleaner, more effective way of delivering small items in many European cities, many of which have space limitations, and tough rules on pollution and carbon emissions.
"Many cities are not built for [trucks]. They have narrow streets and usually the inner cities have traffic restrictions," says Karl Reiter, who coordinates the group. "You are only allowed to deliver in the morning hours. But if you come by bicycle, you can do it all day, and it’s easier."
Copenhagen has 25,000 cargo bikes among a population of 500,000. And numerous commercial services have appeared in the Netherlands, GermanySpain, Belgium, and elsewhere...

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