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Study finds ‘Goldilocks zone’ for electric cargo bike delivery

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An electric cargo bike is more cost-effective than a truck on deliveries up to two miles from the distribution centre, according to a new academic study.

The University of Washington modelled a range of delivery scenarios to determine which vehicle costed more. They varied distance from the distribution centre and the number of parcels per stop.

While bikes are suitable for short distances and gain additional advantages through their additional manoeuvrability, trucks become more cost-effective at ranges of two miles or higher, the study shows.

Trucks were also more cost-effective once the number of parcels on the delivery route increased beyond 20. The study’s authors said this meant trucks would remain a better option for bulk deliveries to the likes of office.

“Cargo bicycles may be a good substitute for trucks in cities that are considering policies that restrict the time and type of freight trucks driving through cities using congestion charges or simply banning them,” the study’s authors said.

“Another possibility is to incentivise the use of cargo bicycles by including city support for bike storage in or near downtown. Cargo bicycles could also be a mode of transit included and discussed in city master plans.”

DPD recently partnered with a new start-up to develop a new type of electric delivery bike. The Project 1 is powered by peddling with the ability to support this with electric assistance. It is designed to fit down cycle paths and can hold six cargo containers with up to a 150kg payload. The vehicle has a “modular” design, meaning that it can be extended, widened or shortened depending on applications.

Sainsbury’s introduced electric cargo bikes in south London last April.

Image: Co-op

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