Borrow an e-cargo bike

Leeds City Council is pioneering a new, free ‘try-before-you-buy’ electric cargo (‘e-cargo’) bike scheme for eco-friendly urban deliveries.

Cllr Helen Hayden tries out the new Leeds City Council e-cargo trike.

These pedal-assisted e-cargo bikes will allow businesses and other organisations in Leeds to carry larger, heavier loads with ease. They can ‘test the water’ and see how much money and time they can save by switching from traditional delivery vehicles to new, greener, climate-friendly ways of working.

Deliver more stuff, more quickly – and slash your costs and your carbon footprint.

There are four e-cargo bikes available to borrow: one trike, and three two-wheelers. (See below for more details.) If your business has never tried an e-cargo bike before, take our word for it: you’re in for a treat!

On a full charge, the e-cargo bikes have a range of up to 40 miles (64 km) while carrying loads of up to 100kg, or 900 litres: no risk of running out of charge mid-delivery.

Local businesses, colleges and other organisations can borrow one of these new e-cargo bikes for three months. During that time, we hope they would see how many routine errands, collections and deliveries currently reliant on access to a delivery car or van could be done more easily, quickly and efficiently by e-cargo bike.

The new scheme, one of the first in the country, reflects the council’s commitment to helping businesses reduce their dependence on cars, vans and other traditional delivery vehicles.

Organisations around the country are already using versatile cargo bikes for all kinds of errands previously done by car or van.

Cllr Peter Carlill takes the two-wheel e-cargo bike for a spin.
  • Equipment, tools or materials for events
  • Transport luggage to and from train station
  • Carry musical instruments to performance venue
  • Mobile ‘shop’
  • Transport medical supplies
  • Post / package drop-offs & collections
  • Food delivery (food stays hotter/ fresher)
  • Seasonal trade deliveries (eg Christmas trees)
  • Large goods collection / deliveries (eg washing machines, office equipment)
  • Bags of compost and other garden or building materials
  • Lunch!
  • Whatever you need, and so much more

Benefits

E-cargo bikes offer an abundance of business benefits above cars and vans.

  • Save money.
    E-cargo bikes deliver huge financial savings from the outset (up to 90% compared to the cost of a running an equivalent commercial vehicle); as with all other bikes, running costs are low: there is no tax, MOT, fuel costs or parking costs*. They also require very little maintenance.
  • Save time
    E-cargo bikes are allowed in bike lanes and pedestrianised areas. This means that they can avoid congestion and delivery restrictions (10am-6pm in Leeds) making them extremely efficient for short local journeys. In London, for example, the average vehicle speed is nine miles (14 km) per hour; cargo bikes travel at 12-15 miles (19-24 km) per hour – a considerable logistical advantage.
  • No wasted space
    Vehicles (vans in particular) rarely carry a full load; most commercial vans are no more than 1/3 full. This means that there’s a lot of wasted space. The e-cargo bikes offer a much more efficient use of space.
ITB’s Mark Sadler shows Cllr Jonathan Pryor just how much the e-cargo bikes can carry.
  • Lower carbon emissions
    Zero, in fact. So if you routinely use a car or van to move stuff around, an e-cargo bike could make a massive dent in your organisation’s carbon footprint.
  • Air quality
    Vehicles cause pollution in two main ways. First, they pump out all kinds of dangerous gases (such as NOx). And second tyres produce tiny invisible particles (‘particulate matter’) that are harmful to human health. Bikes generate little particulate matter and no dangerous gases.
  • Road safety
    Trucks and vans in particular pose a disproportionate risk to people who are walking or cycling. E-cargo bikes cut the risk your business poses to other road-users – and encourages even more people to walk and cycle; a virtuous circle!
  • No more parking woes
    The e-cargo bikes lock to themselves, and we provide an additional lock so you can lock them to proper bike-parking, of which more and more is going in throughout the city centre.
  • Cut congestion
    Every car or van journey that you replace by e-cargo bike helps ease congestion.
  • Benefit from brand new infrastructure
    New cycle lanes and links being built in Leeds are giving priority to bikes, and areas reserved for people on foot or on bikes are increasing.
  • Avoid traffic jams
    Agile e-cargo bikes can use bike lanes, segregated bike routes and shared spaces, and with more cycle infrastructure appearing in Leeds every year, bikes are less likely to get snarled up in traffic.
  • Boost reputation & PR
    When we tried out the e-cargo bikes, we turned heads. Everybody we spoke to commented on what a great idea they are. If you want some great PR for your business or organisation, e-cargo bikes are a fantastic positive story. 
  • Customer choice
    People are increasingly concerned about the impact of their behaviour on the environment. Offer customers e-cargo bike delivery and they may reward you with their loyalty.
  • Support economic recovery
    For businesses that have taken a hit during the pandemic, or that were facing other challenges, an e-cargo bike can make a huge difference in terms of getting back on their feet.
  • Local regeneration
    The Covid-19 pandemic has provoked many people to look at their local neighbourhood with fresh eyes. E-cargo bikes offer a way to support hyper-local businesses in communities. 
  • Anyone can use
    You don’t need to be an experienced cyclist to use the e-cargo bikes. In fact, for the trike, you don’t even need to be able to ride a traditional bike. The Council has put together a short training session as part of the loan. The motor assists at speeds of up to 15.5mph (around 25 km per hour). 
  • Health, wellbeing – and fun
    E-cargo-bikes flatten hills. Even with a full load, you just flick the power assist button up a notch, and you won’t break a sweat as you glide up that incline. That said, you still need to pedal a little bit, so there’s some accidental exercise of the most enjoyable kind.
  • Make people smile
    Be an early-adopter and turn heads!

Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds city council’s executive member for climate change, transport and sustainable development, said:

“The council is committed to reducing transport-related pollution to improve the air quality in Leeds. We have declared a climate emergency, and one of the ways we can help the city achieve net-zero carbon by 2030 is to offer businesses the opportunity to test local low-carbon delivery solutions. This new, free scheme is one of the first in the country. E-cargo bikes offer a cost-effective, versatile and attractive alternative to cars and vans for local trips. We are confident that they will become the first choice for everyday deliveries for many more businesses in the future.”

LCC is likely to buy more e-cargo bikes for business to try, likely to include e-trailers and long johns (strengthened/extended normal bikes)

To book

If your business or organisation is interested in trying out an e-cargo bike, please visit our website to register your interest, and someone will get back to you. Visit the e-cargo bike loan scheme page or email ECargoBikeTrials@Leeds.gov.uk

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority runs a ‘Bike Friendly Business’ scheme, which includes support for buying e-cargo bikes. Please see here for more details.

Research and case studies:

Cargo bike use study – https://pedalme.co.uk/why-cargo-bikes/

Sustrans study – https://www.sustrans.org.uk/policy/life-after-lockdown/2020/briefing-paper/reinventing-transport-planning-for-e-cargo-bikes

* Energy Saving Trust Electrifying Last Mile Deliveries

Image credits: Influencing Travel Behaviour / Lizzie Coombes

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