Photo: David Fuentes Prieto/Shutterstock

E-Cargo Bikes Could Make Urban Transit More Efficient and Eco-Friendly

Sustainability News
by Tim Wenger Aug 13, 2021

This is the Climate Win, the most positive sustainability news around the world every week.

This week’s Climate Win is all about e-bikes. Not just any e-bikes, however, as we aren’t here to repeat ourselves. Today we’re celebrating a very specific type of electric bicycle: the e-cargo bike, which you may be seeing more of on the streets of your city in the near future. That’s because a new report from Promise, a UK-based non-profit working towards environmental solutions, just released a detailed report on how cargo bikes are on the rise in London and elsewhere as an efficient, eco-friendly means of moving goods about an urban area.

The study was built around GPS data from the ride-sharing app Pedal Me, which utilized human-powered cargo bikes as a ride-sharing and delivery solution rather than cars or vans. It found that over the course of 98 days, Pedal Me kept 3,896 Kg of CO2 and over 5.5 kg of NOx out of the atmosphere, “showing that cargo bikes can serve their customers better than a van without generating many of the externalities currently associated with urban freight.”

Researchers involved in the study believe that cargo bikes could be adopted by more urban areas to offset a portion of delivery van and ride-sharing traffic that clogs up roads and curb space. Even as delivery van fleets electrify in the coming years, issues stemming from their tendency to cause accidents — as evidenced by the report — and the space they occupy on roads can be offset by the use of cargo bikes. The study even found that cargo bikes are faster than vans in making deliveries in many circumstances, particularly in high-traffic and densely populated areas.

What’s more, e-cargo bikes aren’t purely for commercial transport. British bicycle company Raleigh now has a line of e-cargo bikes that are designed for families. These can be used for grocery runs, lugging sporting equipment to the park and back, or simply taking a Saturday morning cruise. This is zero-carbon, yes, and the additional win is purely stylistic: These bikes look far hipper than minivans ever could. Family transit just got way cooler, in addition to being more eco-friendly.

More climate wins this week

Politicians, activists, and Indigenous peoples are coming together in the Northwest to save struggling salmon in the Snake and Salmon Rivers. This looks to include the removal of four dams on the Snake River, and could be one of the biggest bipartisan and cross-sector environmental victories of this century.

A major infrastructure bill cleared the US Senate this week, which includes big funding for EV chargers and other environmental progress in another example of bipartisan progress. A major budget resolution is next — which won’t be bipartisan but, if it passes, would fund the biggest federal-led climate initiatives in our nation’s history across the transportation and energy sectors.

We close this week with an easy way for travelers to Hawaii to support sustainable agriculture. Matador and The Hawaiian Islands partnered to create this detailed list of where to buy local produce on the islands to support local farmers, and why it’s so important to do so.

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