London politicians are calling for greater financial support for cargo bike sharing and training schemes to help businesses replace their diesel vans with the environmentally-friendly alternative, according to a new report by the London Assembly’s economy committee. The report urges the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to provide funding for borough councils to enable the implementation of these schemes. Cargo bikes can cost up to £12,500, compared to a minimum of £24,000 for the cheapest electric vans. However, they enable businesses to travel within the Ulez (Ultra Low Emission Zone) for a relatively low upfront cost while also reducing congestion and pollution.
The committee’s report also requests Transport for London (TfL) to share its analysis on the uptake of purchasing cargo bikes as part of the Ulez scrappage scheme. The committee also recommends increasing funding for cargo bikes to incentivize more businesses to switch to them when the current scrappage funding runs out. The report argues that encouraging businesses to make the shift away from diesel vans and toward using cargo bikes for their deliveries and other jobs could help reduce air pollution levels in London.
Hina Bokhari, the chair of the economy committee, said that the report aims to incentivize businesses by ensuring that they can see the options available to them. Amazon is among the large businesses that have already made the shift to using cargo bikes. The report highlights that smaller businesses that want to do the same can make the transition with the support of the Mayor and the government. Plumbers and electricians have already successfully made the switch to cargo bikes, which has helped them save time and increase the number of appointments they can make.
Brian Whiting, the operations manager at homeless outreach charity Under One Sky, has trialled one of the bikes and ordered one to help with deliveries across London. He praised the cargo bike’s ability to navigate busy traffic and alternative routes, as well as its lack of air pollution, which has the added benefit of improving mental health. Meanwhile, Oliver Lord, who leads the UK branch of the Europe-wide Clean Cities Campaign, said that cargo bikes are a positive solution for businesses, particularly in central London where air pollution is a significant problem.
TfL’s recent action plan on cargo bikes suggests that the vehicles could replace up to 17% of van-driven kilometers in central London by 2030. Responding to the committee’s report, Will Norman, the Mayor’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, hailed cargo bikes as “real game changers” when it comes to delivering freight and servicing trips. He also noted that they not only provide environmental benefits but also improve the efficiency of journeys, presenting a much lower risk to pedestrians and cyclists than vans and HGVs. TfL will continue to explore ways of promoting cargo bike usage on London roads to build a better, safer, and greener city for all.