Cargo Bicycles Are More Efficient Than Cargo Vans

Person riding a cargo bike while on delivery

Delivery vehicles are a significant cause of delays in city as they stop and block other transportation modes at a frequent basis. I’m sure everyone can relate to being frustrated while a truck or van blocks a bike lane (or car lane) while they unload. Urban planners and logistics professionals need to think more about using cargo bikes to help with the flow of traffic while also reducing gross emissions. Cargo bikes are actually more efficient than vans when it comes to urban deliveries. This is particularly worth noting when thinking of opening up streets to people as some argue that deliveries are a key reason we need to close streets to people (and only allow vehicles to be on the road).

When delivering goods in central Brussels the electric Bullitt cargo bikes covered 30% shorter routes, and travelled at 16 km/h versus 11 km/h for vans constrained by congestion, according to the study. The cargo bikes were over 2 times faster than vans using 48 min. versus 99 min. on a typical 8.5 km bike route in Brussels urban centre.

Over a month and a half, the cargo bikes delivered 10.1 packages per hour on average, while vans were able to deliver 4.9 packages per hour to the same destinations. Bikes bypass traffic jams, take shortcuts through streets closed to through traffic and ride to within 30 metres of delivery points on average, minimising walking time. Meanwhile, previous studies have shown that vans can spend up to 25 min per stop searching for parking.

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