Are Cargo Bikes the Future of Package Delivery?

6. March 2024

There is much to commend about cargo bikes. They are eco-friendly, swift, and agile, giving them an edge in congested urban areas where they often outpace traditional delivery vehicles. However, cargo bikes fall short in terms of range and load capacity.
Consider a city like Berlin, where approximately 600,000 packages are dispatched daily. Presently, over 3,000 delivery vehicles, predominantly Sprinters, are in operation. To manage this volume with cargo bikes, the requirement would likely exceed 10,000. Unlike Sprinters, route planning hinges not on driver hours but on cargo volume and range. Even if each delivery driver were to undertake multiple routes daily in the future, the demand for thousands of new drivers remains unmet, particularly given the current scarcity of delivery personnel.
Package delivery with cargo bikes has many challenges
Substantial investments in infrastructure are imperative to render our cities conducive to extensive bicycle logistics. Without expanded bike lanes and parking spaces, we merely relocate the prevailing issue from the streets to the sidewalks.
Furthermore, cargo bikes forfeit their efficacy over extended distances. Transit from distribution centers, often situated on the outskirts or beyond the city, to delivery zones is impracticable. Thus, transshipment hubs within the city must be established, each additional transshipment adding logistical complexities and costs.
Eco-friendly package delivery is complex
So, are cargo bikes not a viable solution? Yes and no. They may not suffice for the primary package delivery load, considering the colossal package volumes. Nonetheless, equipped with urban transshipment points, cargo bikes can offer environmentally sustainable assistance, facilitating a greener last mile, particularly as doorstep deliveries diminish, aligning with the reduced volumes ideal for cargo bike usage.
In summary, anyone strategizing for the future of package delivery must account for the massive package influx. The solution should aim to diminish delivery vehicle numbers while prioritizing eco-friendliness, seamlessly integrating with existing infrastructure and legislation.