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Could bicycles replace trucks in urban centres for deliveries?

With Black Friday approaching and Christmas on the horizon, figuring out ways to be a more environmentally minded consumer seems appropriate. And a recent article in The Guardian outlines an awesome solution that’s already seeing some success in Europe as it emerges in North America.

Can ‘nests’ and eco bikes reduce the environmental impact of parcel delivery in cities? by Tracey Lindeman for The Guardian explains that delivery trucks in their “last mile” are responsible for a lot of environmental and traffic congestion woes.

The “last mile” is “the final leg of a package’s journey from distribution warehouse to doorstep – and it has become a bigger problem with the growth of online shopping, particularly same-day and next-day delivery,” writes Lindeman. “To meet these short delivery windows, more trucks must be driven into busy city centres, often at the height of rush hour.”

An organization in Montréal, Quebec is trying to tackle this and are using a model similar to ones in Berlin, Oslo and London.

The concept in simplistic terms:

  • Rather than one large warehouse for packages destined for urban centres, have multiple, smaller warehouses (hubs) around a city.
  • Cargo bicycles – bicycles designed to carry heavy weight in a large container – then go to these hubs to deliver packages within the city.
  • Fewer trucks are on the road in urban areas causing fewer traffic jams and contributing less to greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts.

A courier interviewed by Lindeman for The Guardian article estimated that he “makes about 85 deliveries a day on the bikes, about the same number he made in his former delivery truck, but with a fraction of the hassle, emissions and congestion.”

Part of this solution, says one consultant, is for consumers to “avoid unnecessarily rush-ordering packages” to give companies more time to effectively schedule deliveries.

Do you think this solution could work in your city? Why or why not? What other solutions can you implement at home to help with this problem? Let us know!


The Guardian Article:

Jalon Montreal:

KoMoDo Berlin (English Translation):

Michael Howie

Michael Howie is an international award-winning journalist whose background includes work for Torstar, Metroland, and other magazines and publications. He is the producer and host of The Young Defenders podcast, host of the popular Defender Radio podcast, the writer of The Fur-Bearers’ blogs, and contributes to various online publications on behalf of The Fur-Bearers. He is also the primary manager of The Fur-Bearers' social media platforms. Michael has successfully managed a political campaign, worked with various non-profits as a strategic communicator, and performs in the popular End of Times and Other Bothers improvised comedy podcast. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario.

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