The body representing councils in England and Wales has urged courier firms to adopt “environmentally friendly” cargo bikes in place of vans. In a new report, the Local Government Association (LGA) says switching to bikes will help allay fears of an increase in diesel delivery vans operating in busy urban areas and residential streets.

The LGA says the report is timely, as it follows government figures suggesting light commercial vehicle traffic has now returned to pre-lockdown levels. And with more people doing their shopping online as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the LGA says this is only likely to increase.

However, the report says diesel vans are contributing to poor air quality and congestion, but courier bikes could replace up to 10 percent of conventional vans in areas where the final delivery route is no more than 1.25 miles. The report also suggests bikes could reduce current urban delivery carbon emissions by 73 percent over the course of a vehicle’s life cycle.

In addition, the organisation claims bikes, which are popular in countries such as Holland, Germany and Denmark, could also clear up pavement space in smaller residential streets. And councils are already promoting use of e-cargo bikes, buying the bikes for local businesses or for their own use.

For example, Cambridgeshire County Council and Cambridge City Council combined to deploy 30 e-cargo bikes covering first-mile deliveries, as well as a ‘try-before-you-buy’. Devon County Council, meanwhile, plans to use 13 e-cargo bikes in Exeter to support active business travel as an alternative to car and van use. Nottingham has also announced a similar scheme.

Electro cargo bike Urban Arrow

“Courier firms have played a vital role during the coronavirus crisis in continuing to provide a delivery service while people have been unable to get out and about as they would in normal times,” said councillor David Renard, the LGA’s Transport Spokesperson. “Online shopping will continue to grow, and so will our reliance on courier services.

“This has unfortunately seen the consequence of large delivery vans clogging up street space, increasing congestion and in some cases causing a rise in air pollution. We need to look at how we manage online deliveries in the future and consider new delivery options which are more climate and road-friendly. Swapping large vans for cargo bikes is one way in which we can make a really positive difference to our environment and help achieve the country’s carbon reduction targets.”

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