Cycle Commerce As An Ecosystem

John Thackara is the founder of The Doors of Perception, an event production company that organises festivals in Europe and India in which grassroots innovators work with designers to imagine sustainable futures – and take practical steps to realise them.


At a recent interview with Impact Design Hub, this is what he had to say about cargobikes

My favorite example right now is electric bikes – and especially cargo-carrying ones. My friend Kris de Decker reckons that, once all system costs are included, a cargo cycle can be up to 98 percent cheaper per km than four-wheeled, motorized alternatives. The scale, energy, and creativity of a worldwide network of designers and makers is stunning: The largest e-vehicle online forum,, boasts more than 13,000 topic threads. A shift to e-bikes is not just about reducing energy and cost. As a system, they can also support huge numbers of livelihoods. Service providers and artisans were heavy users of cargo cycles during the first half of the twentieth century and now – as formal jobs disappear, and transport costs rise — myriad small-scale traders are rediscovering neglected models and reinventing them using today’s new tools.

Cycle Commerce As An Ecosystem is the title of an essay on Thackara’s blog focusing on the challenges faced by informal traders in India who use bicycles to transport goods and people.

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