Cargo bikes: 21st century SUVs

Cargo_Bike_Festival_2.jpgThis past weekend, 250 people descended on the Dutch city of Nijmegen to discuss cargo bikes. This was not simple a group of oddball enthusiasts, but business people and entrepreneurs from around the world who are seriously experimenting with the potential of the cargo bike as a utility vehicle.  

Mobycon has been working on the business application for cargo bikes in logistics, courier and home delivery through the European Commission project PRO-E-BIKE, which was also one of the sponsors of the event. Ronald Jorna discussed PRO-E-BIKE, trends related to e-cargo bikes, lessons learned from pilot projects and policies for promoting e-cargo bikes in his presentation Saturday. Below is a summary of the findings Ronald presented.  


This project focuses on the use of e-bikes for delivery services by building understanding, increasing confidence in technology, encouraging behaviour change, increasing market update and developing pro e-bike policies at the local level. 

Upcoming trends

The manufacturers of e-bicycles will continue to increase the utility of these vehicles. Often these types of vehicles are best used for first and last mile delivery but the following advancements may well extend usefulness beyond. 

  • Increased speed – It is expected, pedelecs will soon allow riders to travel up to 45 kilometres per hour. A pedelec allows a rider to pedal with the assistance of an electric motor that can be turned off and on.
  • Less downtime – Manufacturers are working to develop e-bikes requiring a shorter recharge time than is currently necessary.
  • Extended capacity – New approaches will make it possible to carry greater loads in the cargo bins of e-bikes. Great loads are already being carried by e-bike at a number of companies, for example MovebyBike is a Swedish company that helps customers move homes.
  • Increased range – It is also expected that advancements in the efficiency of e-cargo bikes will soon make it possible to travel further.

Lessons Learned 

In The Netherlands, seven pilot projects have been started in partnership with delivery services, public administration and private citizens. Initial findings have uncovered a number of benefits, including the following. 

  • A positive image and corporate social responsibility is supported when companies utilize e-bikes.
  • It is more economical to use these types of vehicles than to use conventionally-fuelled cars or scooters.
  • Efficiency is improved when cargo bikes are used in urban areas instead of cars.
  • Replacement of e-bikes is easier than replacement of cars.
  • Hills can limit the range of e-bikes.

Pro-e-bike Policies 

Communities wishing to encourage e-bikes in the realm of delivery should consider the following policy ideas. 

  • Low-emission zones can provide motivation to convert from conventionally-fuelled vehicles to e-bikes.
  • Time windows for freight delivery can decrease congestion and make e-cargo bikes a more attractive and potentially safer option.
  • Infrastructure, such as bike lanes and tracks wide enough to accommodate e-cargo bikes can facilitate their use.
  • Fiscal incentives and subsidies can provide the initial encouragement companies need to try using e-bikes.
  • Promotion and programs that allow people to experience e-bikes and test them out can increase spark curiosity and increase confidence. 

Still curious?

More information about the PRO-E-BIKE project is available on the website, visit www.pro-e-bike.org or by contacting Ronald Jorna directly. Ronald is an economist with more than 20 years of experience working on European Commission research projects. 


Mobycon | P.O. Box 2873 | 2601 CW Delft | The Netherlands | Phone: +31 15 21478 99 | E-mail: info@mobycon.com | www.mobycon.com