Four companies in Brussels have begun tests of having deliveries made by electric bicycles instead of motor vehicles, the VRT reports. The bikes are equipped with trailers large enough to take a palette of goods and products and are intended to fulfil deliveries in what is known as the “last mile” scheme. Cities like Hasselt have already experimented with a version of the scheme, in which significant deliveries are made by suppliers as usual, by rail, truck or water, to a depot on the outskirts of the city, and then taken by other means of transport to their final destination, using vehicles less likely to cause traffic disruption or inner-city pollution.
The last mile deliveries in the test case will be provided by Urbike, a cooperative enterprise. “The last mile is the Achilles’ heel of freight transport,” Urbike said in a press release. “Heavy traffic and accessibility restrictions in urban areas often make these deliveries difficult and inefficient. For most carriers, the last mile is proportionally the most expensive, both economically and in terms of negative externalities for mobility and the environment. Freight transport is responsible for 25% of carbon dioxide emissions and 33% of fine-particle emissions from car traffic in Brussels. What if cycling was the future of city-centre deliveries?”
Signed up for the test of the new system are four major companies: Bpost, Delhaize, Multipharma and CSD (a provider of home care and services). Each Urbike trailer is capable of carrying200kg of goods, or 1.5 cubic metres. The project is being followed by Smart and Febecoop, the Free University of Brussels (VUB) as well as the Université Saint-Louis.
“The aim is to prove that bicycle delivery offers a real solution for last mile transportation and can be used for all types of goods,” Urbike said. The coop aims to be transporting 115,000 deliveries by bicycle a year from 2020, with the immediate creation of 20 local jobs.