A study compared the delivery route cost trade-offs between box delivery trucks and electric-assisted (EA) cargo bikes that have the same route. It concludes that the delivery trucks are more cost-effective for greater distances from distribution centres and for large volume deliveries to one destination. However, EA cargo bikes may be well suited for traffic congested cities with designated bike paths and truck parking challenges.

To combat the growing pressures of freight in major urban areas, some European and North American cities have responded by deploying alternative transport modes for delivering goods (e.g. EA cargo bikes). EA cargo bikes could provide a feasible technology to meet the increased demand for the movement of goods. According to the European Cycle Logistics Federation, up to 50% of all light goods and 25% of all goods could be moved by bike. However, the capabilities and limitations of EA cargo bikes are poorly understood. Increased knowledge about them could empower the reform of the urban freight sector. This study compared the delivery route cost trade-offs between box delivery trucks and EA cargo bikes that have the same route and delivery characteristics. It explores what conditions EA cargo bikes perform at lower cost than typical delivery trucks. An increase in e-commerce activity by city residents means there are more delivery vehicles on city streets. However, urban freight infrastructure is unlikely to change significantly to accommodate the increase in vehicle numbers. Traffic congestion, idling trucks and the lack of sufficient commercial vehicle load zones (designated freight curb space) are key issues.

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Source: European Commission