Cargo bikes potentially ‘excellent solution’ to London’s net zero and congestion challenges, says report

Cargo bikes potentially ‘excellent solution’ to London’s net zero and congestion challenges, says report

The London Assembly’s cross-party economy committee has urged Sadiq Khan, Transport for London (TfL), business organisations and others to intensify support for the use of cargo bikes as an alternative to vans for short distance freight deliveries and servicing trips in the capital.

In a report published today, the committee makes 13 recommendations for bringing about a shift away from, in particular, diesel vans in favour of cargo bikes, including the introduction of new regulations to facilitate their use, more mayoral funding, and the creation of training and accreditation schemes to encourage cargo bike riders to abide by high professional standards.

Vans or light goods motor vehicles (LGVs) account for 80 per cent of all freight vehicles in London and the number of miles travelled by them went up by 68 per cent between 2010 and 2019, mostly in outer London, with TfL anticipating a further increase in van miles in future years, the report says.

Freight distribution on London’s roads as a whole, including by heavy goods vehicles, constitutes one third of London’s morning peak period road traffic according to TfL’s 2019 freight and servicing action plan and contributes significantly to congestion.

The Assembly report says the increase in van use in London has been influenced by several factors, such as greater demand for parcel deliveries, high land prices causing freight vehicle storage areas to be moved further from the centre of the city, and “active transport policies that limit the space for delivery vans to stop and unload”.

A move towards zero-emission light goods vehicles including cargo bikes is a goal of national government’s future of freight strategy, published last June, as part of pursuing a UK transition to net zero carbon by 2050. Mayor’s Khan’s objective is for London to reach that target by 2030.

TfL’s cargo bike action plan, published last month, is informed by a calculation that cargo bikes could replace between one and two percent of van kilometres across Greater London by 2025 and up to four per cent by 2030. In central London, where the potential for change is greatest, TfL estimates that 17 per cent of van delivery travel could be replaced by 2030.

The Assembly report, entitled Winning the Race to New Zero for London’s Businesses, recommends TfL considers increasing money available for cargo bike funds under its current vehicle scrappage scheme and that the Mayor explores providing “further funding to London local authorities in London to support cargo bike sharing schemes and provide training to local businesses”.

It also urges the Mayor to work with business improvement districts (BIDs) in London, many of which represent employers in central areas, “to carry out a lessons-learning exercise about how to encourage and facilitate the use of cargo bikes by businesses”.

The seven Assembly member committee, composed of three Labour AMs, two Conservatives, one Liberal Democrat and one Green, also calls for the acceleration of a roll-out of cargo bike parking facilities and hangars and stronger employment rights for delivery drivers of all forms of transport alongside an professional standards accreditation scheme.

Committee chair Hina Bokhari (Lib Dem) says in the report that “cargo bikes offer an excellent solution to the challenges posed by London’s roads,” providing “a cleaner and more efficient way for businesses to move goods around the city”.

She also stresses that “the committee recognises that businesses are much more likely to switch to cargo bikes if there is a cost-neutral solution,” with subsidies, trials and scrappage schemes possibly needed “to enable the level and pace of transition to decarbonised vehicles that London needs.”

Read the report in full HERE.

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