Optimizing the field of small-scale distribution transport via cargo bikes

Jun 2018

Infrastructure

In view of increasing traffic problems in densely populated urban areas, innovative concepts are essential here too. One of the fundamental objectives of traffic planners around the world in this regard is rapidly switching small-scale distribution vehicles for retail stores in urban areas over to delivery vehicles with environmentally friendly drives. An equally promising alternative involves optimizing these transport operations by means of cargo bikes with or without additional electric drive.

These bikes have different designs depending on their purpose and area of application. The longest- serving bikes for delivery purposes are bikes used in the postal service. Requirements regarding transport bikes go far beyond the standard for conventional bikes. Due to the high permissible load, the vehicles need to withstand additional stresses, which are further increased through the optional use of an electric auxiliary drive.

Much progress has already been made with regard to drafting a standard that henceforth defines the requirements and test procedures for bikes subject to increased loads compared with DIN EN ISO 4210 and DIN EN 15194 – e.g. company bicycles, bikes for delivery services and rental bikes. Standards give manufacturers a solid foundation on which to build their products, while test centers provide standardized criteria according to which they can test the usability and safety of bicycles used for transporting goods. In addition to this, work on drafting an ISO standard concerning this matter is underway.

Alongside technical issues regarding bicycles for transport/load-carrying purposes, the framework conditions regarding behavior and infrastructure need to be adapted to future requirements. For example, traveling along a cycle path quickly and safely is often difficult, which ly is why cargo bikes often move onto the road (to avoid blocking the cycle path). Some larger cargo bikes are even too wide for cycle paths. This is not necessarily a problem because many urban areas have zones where the maximum speed is limited to 30 km/h and cargo bikes can be easily accommodated. Larger bikes can now be used to transport packages with the dimensions of European pallets. Today, multi-track cargo bikes have a load capacity of up to 300 kilograms. A proposal has been made to discuss these matters at a European level together with the European Cycle Logistics Federation (ECLF) in the near future and develop mutually agreeable solutions that will set a solid foundation for the future.

In its resolution of September 27, 2011 on European road safety 2011–2020, the European Parliament strongly recommended the responsible authorities “to introduce speed limits of 30 km/h in residential areas and on all one-lane roads in urban areas which have no separate cycle lane, with a view to protecting vulnerable road users more effectively.” Given that the widespread use of cargo bikes in urban areas is desirable, including among politicians, this recommendation seems more realistic than ever.

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