TFL: A sixth of van deliveries can be replaced by cargo bikes

A clean, safe and efficient way to deliver items - Transport for London aims to make cargo bikes the leading option for last mile deliveries.

April 21, 2023

London MPs are calling on businesses to make the switch from van to cargo bike deliveries, after new research showed a sixth of deliveries can be completed this way instead.

The 'Cargo Bike Action Plan' published by Transport for London states that their aim is to 'make cargo bikes the leading option for last mile freight and servicing trips'.

The document also discusses the Mayor of London's plan to have 80% of all journeys completed by foot, bike or public transport by 2041 which would reduce pollution in the city.

Setting out the urgent need for change, the published report notes that although delivery levels are not as high as they were during the coronavirus pandemic, they are still incredibly high - with 26% of all retail sales being completed online in 2022. The increase in online sales equates to an increase in delivery services and currently an increase in vans on the road. Replacing these vans with cargo bikes could go a long way towards reducing congestion and cleaning up the city.

The report notes 'Cargo bikes can reduce van delivery and service trips across London and can be more efficient than vans for some applications. They deliver considerable carbon emission and air pollution savings, contribute to healthier and safer streets and enable better use of urban space. The rapid growth of cargo bikes during and after the pandemic demonstrates that they can be a sustainable and economically viable alternative for many van trips.'

The research revealed that driving 6,000km in a small diesel van emits one tonne of CO2 and as such, the carbon savings resulting from cargo bike growth across Greater London could be between 10,000 and 30,000 tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030.

As well as being a cleaner way to deliver, cargo bikes help with congestion on the road. Given the average London driver spends 227 hours each year sat in traffic, clearing some congestion could only ever be a good thing!

The report made note of changes that need to happen to ensure cargo bikes can operate as effectively as possible, such as better infrastructure and safety for riders. Overall, they concluded that cargo bikes are clean, efficient, reduce congestion and are safer for pedestrians than vans! 

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