Riese & Müller UK sales manager Michael Gregg analyses the cargo bike scene in the UK
Cargo bikes in the UK still remain somewhat of a head-turner when one passes you by in the streets. However, in the hustle and bustle of the big city life, the cargo bike is becoming normalised and for all the right reasons!
If you take a trip to Northern Europe, the cargo bike has become a common sight, with people using them for city deliveries or families using them as an alternative to a second vehicle.
A trip to the Riese & Muller factory just outside Darmstadt, Germany, really is an eye-opening experience for the cargo market with more staff riding to the factory on a cargo bike than using a regular car.
If you wait outside the factory on a regular working day then you will witness hordes of employees commuting in on their cargo and e-bikes with designated parking and areas to charge the bikes whilst staff get on with their working day.
This sight is definitely a forward-thinking approach to the commuting lifestyle which I’m sure the UK will follow more and more as the e-bike continues to become accepted within our culture.
After a recent trip to London, I found that there are more and more e-bikes on the road along with alternative modes of transport for deliveries within central London. Using a cargo bike makes sense from a business perspective and has lots of positive benefits, for example:
– Avoiding city congestion charges
– No fuel costs
– No waiting in busy city traffic
– More enjoyable and stress-free way of travel
– Easier delivery of door-to-door parcels etc
– Staff not having to have driving licences
– Use of cycle routes for a quicker route rather than regular roads
– Cheaper than cars/vans to run and to purchase
Cargo bikes within cities do also face some challenges which can include things like delivery of bigger parcels, space to store the bikes and maintenance. These, in my opinion, are quite minor issues, and as the culture develops along with the technology then these challenges can be eradicated.
We have many forward-thinking e-bike specialists within the UK. If you look at shops like Fully Charged in central London, they are currently in the process of opening a cargo bike-specific showroom.
This type of showroom can really help businesses see the benefits of the cargo bike and can give them the ability to find the perfect bike for their business needs along with the ability to have regular maintenance carried out by the experts who know the bikes inside and out.
Currently, Riese & Muller e-cargo bikes can offer a capacity of up to 240 litres and this is only going to increase as technology improves. Within Riese & Muller’s UK dealers alone, we have seen a shift in many of their mindsets to cargo bikes.
They have started putting more of an emphasis on that side of their business. London was always going to be the leading player within the UK, and many cities can learn from this.
Cities like Manchester could really benefit from this culture change, with the city recently officially becoming the most congested city in the UK – which I’m sure isn’t something they are proud of?! Manchester has the numbers and culture to really become a cycling city, but investment within the cycling infrastructure is definitely needed.
A recent drive I took into central Manchester confirmed the congestion problem. During my trip to Manchester, I noticed nearly all the people in cars being single passengers within the vehicle and this contributes massively to their ongoing congestion problem.
I found myself wondering why more people weren’t on their bikes? I think this comes down to people not feeling safe on bikes due to the lack of designated bike lanes.
Cargo bikes can really help the city become less congested and greener. I still think businesses are not fully aware of the benefits and capabilities of delivering goods in and around the city. Cargo bike education and awareness can really help cities like Manchester become cycling friendly cities and offer a much more productive way of delivery for businesses.
All in all, cargo bike education and culture is what is needed for us to grow as a country and if we all push in the right direction, then I’m sure a shift in the public’s mindset will happen.
From a family perspective, cargo bikes really can improve a family’s wellbeing, as they provide the opportunity to carry up to three children.
Are there many things in life better than taking your loved ones on a summer picnic bicycle trip to your favourite destinations? The cargo bike makes this a more viable and enjoyable option compared to a mundane trip in the car.
The large loading capacity of a cargo bike can enable a family to do their local grocery shop or necessary journey in a much greener way.
At the moment in the UK, if you see somebody parking their cargo bike outside the local supermarket then this would be somewhat of a head-turner, but wouldn’t it be great if this was just another regular sight in the supermarket “car” park?
As the culture develops and people choose to adopt a greener lifestyle, then scenarios like this will only become more and more of a regular occurrence.
The cargo bike for personal use does offer some challenges, with the main one being storage, so this does limit people who live in apartments or flats who don’t have access to indoor parking and storage.
Again, if you use northern Europe as an example, you can see that many people are dropping the use of the second vehicle and are opting for a cargo bike instead. This obviously helps with the number of cars on the road which will lead to a much greener way of life for these families and their local neighbourhoods.
I think we can definitely learn from the way of life these countries have, and how awesome would it be to see more and more bikes on the road and fewer cars?
The UK is still a baby when it comes to cargo e-bikes, but the new greener wave is definitely on the way, and this is something that really excites me.