Ask any bicycle lover, and they will tell you of the many advantages cycling has over driving; it’s good for your health, cheaper, and when in a big city with lots of traffic congestion, it can be a quicker way to get to your destination. One advantage that cars have however, is storage space. It’s pretty improbable that someone would move houses using only a bike. There are a multitude of tasks however, that can be accomplished with a bike built for cargo.
A recent study showed that over 51% of all major city deliveries currently being made by all sorts of cars and trucks could also be made by cargo bikes. The same study showed that over 90% of all grocery trips could be made by bike. Coupled with a small motor, these cargo bikes are capable of handling cargo close to half a ton in weight at a significantly smaller operating cost than a larger vehicle. Those numbers, if implemented could save close to 50 tons of CO² emissions each year, around 1% of total emissions nationwide.
While CO² emissions are definitely a major argument for bikes, reducing the number of delivery trucks would significantly reduce fatalities. Commercial trucks make up just under 3% of the total vehicles on the road. Last year there were over 32000 fatal car crashes. Over 14% of those involved commercial trucks.
One of the biggest hurdles to getting more cargo bikes on the road is the misconception of what can be hauled by bike. Much more than just a few shipping boxes can be transferred by bike. Carpenters, plumbers and other craftsman can carry their whole set of tools, and many bikes are being custom designed to fit more specific needs. In Europe cargo bikes are being outfitted with systems to transport medical samples and human tissue.
People are slowly starting to see the benefits of bikes, and expect to see cargo bikes becoming more of the norm for moving your precious cargo.