automobile congestion in the morning rush hour

Written by Sam Whitmore, Chief Marketing Officer, Cityshuttle

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly accelerated the growth of e-commerce worldwide, but as home deliveries increase we are likely to see a worrying rise in carbon from last mile deliveries. The question is – could cargo e-bikes be the answer?

According to Oberlo’s 2021-2026 forecast, global e-commerce sales are projected to reach $6.3 trillion in 2023. However, while the increased sales are welcome, the increase in carbon emissions resulting from a rise in last mile deliveries is becoming a growing concern.

The term “last mile delivery” refers to the final step in the delivery process, which is typically from a distribution center or warehouse to the end customer. This stage of delivery is often completed by diesel-powered vehicles that contribute significantly to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Gartner VP, Tom Enright, stated in an article for Freightwaves that 53% of shipping costs and 41% of total supply chain costs are tied to the last mile. This is due to the fact that these deliveries are often made using inefficient vehicles that are not designed for urban environments, leading to increased congestion and emissions – and if the issue is not tackled, a 32% increase in carbon emissions is expected by 2030.

In addition to the emissions-related issues is the additional congestion these vehicles bring to already overcrowded city roads. This often results in late deliveries for customers and missed delivery slots for commercial operators.

To address this problem, there has been a growing interest in using cargo e-bikes for last mile deliveries. Cargo e-bikes are electrically-assisted bicycles that are designed to carry large and heavy loads. They offer several benefits over traditional delivery vehicles including reduced emissions, increased efficiency, and improved access to areas that are difficult to reach with larger vehicles.

A study by the European Cyclists’ Federation found that cargo e-bikes emit 90% less CO2 than diesel-powered delivery vans and have a significantly lower cost per kilometer. They also have the potential to reduce congestion and improve air quality in cities, as they take up less space on the road and produce no emissions.

Cargo e-bikes are already being used for last mile deliveries overseas. DHL Express has introduced cargo e-bikes in several European cities, including Amsterdam, Berlin, and Paris, while Amazon has launched a pilot program in New York City to test the use of cargo e-bikes for deliveries.

While it looks like Cargo e-bikes are likely to be the city delivery vehicle of choice to solve the last mile challenge, they are already offering a viable option for families who need to travel around cities with shopping and children.

Sales of e-bikes are expected to increase rapidly amid the cost of living crisis in London, with families no longer willing to pay the congestion charge or sit burning fossil fuels in traffic for shorter road journeys.

Cargo e-bikes offer good range, can carry a shopping load safely and provide healthy exercise in a fun and enjoyable way.  With many cities now gradually moving to the ’20 minute model’ demand is likely to increase further.

Cars and trucks are likely to remain, at least for the foreseeable future, the ideal mode of transport for longer journeys.  However, as cities look to reduce pollution and improve health, cargo e-bikes offer a promising solution. When you consider their ability to reduce emissions, improve efficiency, and improve access to urban areas – what’s not to love?