In the year of COP26, the increasing urgency of the climate crisis is at the forefront of our minds. While the problem seems insurmountable, the Bike Coop remains optimistic that businesses have the power to implement positive changes and be part of the solution.
Air quality in our cities remains a big problem, but infrastructure continues to improve and ease our transition to low-emission vehicle use. The Bike Coop believes that the answer to many transport problems in cities lies on two wheels. And the advancing technology of the electric cargo bike presents a viable, low-cost, long-term solution. If it’s about minimising environmental damage, preserving air quality and saving cash, the electric cargo bike ticks all the boxes.
What is it?
A traditional cargo bike is a heavy, difficult vehicle. The bike itself could carry a hefty load, but even the strongest, most proficient cyclist could only manage short journeys before burning out. Not ideal if you were making deliveries all day or if you needed to get to a meeting after the school drop.
Enter the electric cargo bike. And it is truly revolutionary. The electric assist means hills and loads are all but eliminated. Start pedalling and the motor kicks in, making long or hilly journeys significantly easier. The brakes are very reliable and pretty effortless, and the bikes are easy to manoeuvre round winding roads and city junctions.
Parking in urban areas of Scotland is at a premium, and is expensive. Whether it’s for staff parking or simply making deliveries, it costs a surprising amount just to have your vehicle remain stationary at the kerbside. The electric cargo bike can be placed on the pavement, removing the need for parking charges.
And that’s only one aspect you can save on. The infographic below gives the cost comparison with a petrol-run van. The savings on fuel, insurance and initial outlay cost are clear, especially when you consider the benefits of an interest-free loan from Transport Scotland, repayable over four years.
There are other, less obvious savings. Multiple studies have found that, on average, employees who exercise regularly take fewer sick days. Using an electric cargo bike provides staff an easy way to exercise without having to over-exert themselves.
Is an electric cargo bike an actual alternative to a business vehicle?
It depends. If you’re delivering sofas, you can’t easily switch to an electric cargo bike – although Sustrans moved their entire London office using only pedal power so nothing is impossible! However, if you regularly carry loads of around 200kg (31 stone, 6 lbs) or less, switching to an electric cargo bike need not be difficult. The electric assist provides substantial help so it’s a world away from the old sweat-and-tears of getting to your destination. And, as no licence is required, any member of staff can ride it – an excellent way of adapting to unplanned staff absence, last-minute meetings or deliveries.
If you’re not in the delivery business, electric cargo bikes can replace pool cars or the need for employees to use their own vehicle when visiting clients. Laptop, projector, product samples? Easy with an electric cargo bike! Brand it up and advertise your company wherever you ride.
Types of electric cargo Bikes
There are two main types of electric cargo bikes: bikes with load-carrying at the front and bikes which load up on the back.
The Riese & Muller range carries its load on the front (but you can add panniers on the back for even more space). This front-load space can be used in multiple ways including a fixed box or a platform to which you can attach your own carriers.
The Tern GSD or HSD models carry most of its cargo at the back of the bike (although there is load capacity on the front too). They’re the same length as a regular bike and can be stored on their ends and fit in a car. This makes TERN very practical and versatile bikes.
The Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative is your local, independent electric cargo bike retailer. Drop in and speak to us about how we can help solve your business needs. Find us in Bruntsfield, Canonmills (Edinburgh) and Aberdeen in Scotland, or Leeds and Newcastle in England.
0345 257 0808