Future innovations

Diary - Speaking at Nijmegen 5

Synopsis of my presentation at the European CycleLogistics Conference in Nijmegen on 12.04.14.

The growth of Cargobike City Logistics is supported by three drivers:

  1. Legal and moral imperatives on municipalities to improve air quality -> Soon only Zero Emission Vehicles will be allowed to operate in city centres
  2. Liveability – Political acceptance that streets are places for people first -> Delivery vehicles become guests and they better behave as such
  3. Smart cities -> massive improvements in the efficiency of distribution through intelligent use of operators and users data, to overcome present fragmentation of process. Last mile best served by monopolistic operator?

Here are four themes of future trends:

  1. Cargobox size

    Cycles Maximus Cargo Trikes 140410 4

    Several manufacturers are introducing cargobikes with boxes with capacity between one and two cubic metres. At the Festival, we have seen models from

    I have commented before about cumbersome designs by US courier companies. In the UK, GNewT is also developing their own vehicle.

    K4RGO - ICF Presentation, GNewt concept

    Most Last-mile operators will have fleets of diverse vehicles, from electric vans to large cargobikes, to swift two-wheelers.
    As operator of London’s first and largest cargobike courier for many years, my experience advises people not to forget the front loading tricycles, such as the Christiania (disclaimer): they cover a sweet spot: extreme manoeuvrability, good speed and at 0.4 metric cubes, sufficient cargo capacity; in other words the increase in empty time is often more than compensated by their speed.

  2. Containerization
    The main efficiency challenge for consolidation centres is the trans-modal transfer, which can be time-consuming and can damage goods. My recommendation to the industry is to adopt international standards for small containers that can fit on cargobikes. Just as international shipping was transformed by big metal boxes, urban logistics can take a big leap forward by the use of standard containers that can easily be transferred from lorries to cargobikes.
    Some current examples:

    • The Danish Mail uses one thousand Nihola tricycles, which allow modular loading.

      K4RGO - ICF Presentation, Nihola Danske Post

    • TNT has experimented with loading whole cargobikes on their lorries, with mixed results. It would make much more sense to load just the cargo-boxes. Cycles Maximus new chassis has a simple three point locking mechanism to secure the box on to the frame.
    • Bento-Box is a smart delivery system, again using standard size containers

    • .

    Containers can be transported to the consolidation centres by road, rail or, in large metropolis, on conveyor belts above railways, as envisaged in the SkyCycle;


  3. Software
    My recommendation is for the European Union, through the LaMiLo initiative, to develop and offer an Open Source Tracking and Proof of Delivery platform which the international carriers can integrate their proprietary software with. This way, whenever a city decides to award a Last Mile contract to an operator, the latter does not have to reinvent the wheel; they just use the industry standard platform and can start receiving packages from all international carriers.
  4. Electrical Assist
    • European regulations that limit the power of motors to 250W need to be amended for cargobikes. 250W makes perfect sense for a standard bike, but safety is not compromised by allowing more powerful motors on cargobikes.
    • Expect improvements in the charging time of batteries
    • The dramatic fall in prices of solar panels, and new flexible units can be exploited by cargobike companies operating in suitable areas. Here is an example: the NTS.

4 thoughts on “Future innovations

    • The danger from a more powerful motor arise from higher speed not from faster acceleration. With cargobikes, higher speed should not be an issue and in any case it can be limited. However, better acceleration will improve the appeal of cargobikes without compromising the safety of rider or other road users.

  1. Pingback: DHL experiments with Containerization | K4RGO

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