Amazon is the latest distribution giant to launch a fleet of e-cargo ‘bikes’ to replace many of its van deliveries in London. Faced with crippling congestion and the prospect of an enlarged ULEZ (ultra low emissions zone), the online retailer is launching a micromobility hub in Hackney. The addition of the electric-assist pedal cargo bikes will complement an existing fleet of electric vehicles contributing towards an estimated 5m emissions-free deliveries. The company plans to further reduce its carbon footprint by introducing on-foot deliveries.
John Boumphrey, the UK country manager of Amazon, told The Guardian: “Amazon is driving towards a global net-zero carbon future. One way we’re doing that is through the transformation of our transportation networks. Our new e-cargo bikes, walkers and growing electric vehicle delivery fleet will help us make more zero emission customer deliveries than ever before across London and the UK in the coming months.”
Third party partners will provide the cargo bike deliveries, which may follow the example of a fellow American logistics firm operating here. Looking like a cross between a smart golf buggy and a cargo bike, UPS’s latest foray into electric delivery vehicles is, in fact, a four-wheeled e-assist cycle or eQuad for short.
UPS is trialling 100 of the eQuads, built by UK firm Fernhay, across London with a view to expanding their use to 7 other European cities. As traffic congestion and ever stricter emissions legislation continue to make urban deliveries a challenge, courier companies are turning to cargo cycles.
UPS vice president of fleet maintenance and engineering, Luke Wake, told Reuters: “There are more and more opportunities for zero-emission solutions like this that can alleviate inner-city congestion. It can also help our operations be more efficient at the same time.”
Although it’s hard to tell, the eQuad is a pedal-powered vehicle – albeit one that benefits from battery powered assistance to move it’s 200kg cargo. Suspension, hydraulic brakes and a width of only 840mm make the eQuad perfect for making the most of almost all areas of a city’s cycle network.
The rise of the cargo bike
Around 4,000 cargo bikes were sold in the UK last year, and while the figure’s small fry compared to other European countries, sales of these most practical of cycles are on the increase.
Cargo bikes offer a clean, quiet and cost effective way to carry stuff that’s too bulky for a conventional bicycle. However, the fact they’re bigger and heavier can make a breakdown troublesome.
Even the shortest journey comes to an abrupt halt in the event of a flat tyre, broken chain or buckled wheel and carrying kids or cargo adds an unwelcome dimension to being stuck. It’s why over 25 years ago we launched Cycle Rescue – the first breakdown cover policy for bicycles and one that covers cargo bikes recumbents and tandems.
The ethical choice
The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Over 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance , breakdown cover and mobility scooter insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.
The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK’s most ethical provider.