On yer (Cargo) bike

17 Aug 22

The growth in cargo bike deliveries is real, and the volume of goods that can be transported is astounding.

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Delivery patterns are continually evolving. We’ve become accustomed to ordering groceries, our dinner and pretty much anything our hearts desire online and receiving it within a ridiculously short time frame.

But what impact is this boom in online ordering having at a local level? How are we planning for it and how are we future proofing new developments to accommodate these trends that have accelerated during the pandemic?

These are questions that transport planners are grappling with. Surely current trends in deliveries mean that more space is needed for delivery vehicles to park and unload (?). Well, not necessarily – we need to think about how space can be used effectively so that developments are not overrun by delivery vehicles.

Firstly, space should be prioritised for deliveries by non-motorised modes. The growth in cargo bike deliveries is real, and the volume of goods that can be transported is astounding. Zedify claim to be able to carry 150 – 200kg on their trikes or up to 100kg on their bikes.

Cargo bikes are on the rise too – with over 2,000 cargo bikes sold for commercial delivery purposes in 2020 – and this can help to solve the space requirements in new developments. With less need for on-street loading bays this creates more space for pedestrians, cyclists or landscaping. All of which will contribute to a better public realm.

How fast is all this happening? Amazon have just launched their first micro-mobility hub, with thousands of vans to be replaced on London’s roads by cargo bikes. With big companies like Amazon coming to the forefront, concepts such as local logistics hubs are likely to appear at greater rates.

What can be done within new developments to support this switch in last mile delivery methods? Consolidation centres in bigger schemes reduce dwell times considerably, with drivers or riders only required to drop off in one location rather than to numerous different homes across a site. If this isn’t possible, then providing space nearer to delivery entrances to ensure speedy deliveries would also benefit.

In summary, last mile logistics is ever evolving and the speed at which it is changing matches the new expectation for delivery times – fast. As a result, a change of thinking is required to make sure we are planning for the future, rather than getting stuck in the now. That is why Iceni will be supporting the London and South East ‘Last Mile Conference’.

Matt Bolshaw Senior Planner,Transport
Kelly Davis Associate,Transport