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Fleets given £2m to drive uptake of last-mile delivery bikes

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The Government has announced a £2 million funding pot to support fleets with the uptake of e-Cargo bikes in a bid to improve air quality and help tackle the last-mile conundrum.

In the past year, spending online in the UK increased by 15.3% and the latest road traffic estimates indicate van traffic increased by 4.7% to 49.5 billion vehicle miles in 2016.

Most of these vans are diesel, which cause congestion and have a detrimental impact on the environment, says the Department for Transport (DfT).

Over time, the Government expects to see increasing numbers of electric vans on UK streets, but there is also a place for other delivery modes including e-cargo bikes, it says.

Jesse Norman, minister for low emission vehicles, said: “Support for e-cargo bikes will help to ensure that Britain leads the way in the development and deployment of the technologies of the future.

“Encouraging electric delivery bikes on to our city streets will cut traffic and improve air quality, and will show how these vehicles have the potential to play an important role in the zero emission future of this country.”

The announcement of the grant is an early response to the Last Mile call for evidence, which closed today (Monday, 10 September).

It highlighted how the Government believes that congestion could be reduced and air quality in towns and cities improved if cargo bikes and electric vans were used for last-mile deliveries.

DfT officials said that further details about the distribution of the e-cargo bike funding will be outlined shortly, along with the Government’s full response to the call for evidence.

Government backing of e-cargo bikes is nothing new. In May, e-Cargobikes.com, with backing from the Innovation Challenge Fund, worked in tandem with the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s to trial the use of electric cargo bikes to deliver groceries.

A fleet of five cargo bikes, each with a capacity of up to 480 litres and a payload of 125kg, were located in London, delivering up to 100 orders a day to local customers who shopped via the retailer’s groceries online website.

The findings from the trials exceeded expectations, with 96.7% of orders fulfilled in a single e-cargo bike drop. It also demonstrated shorter delivery routes and journey times, due to the ability of cargo bikes to make use of cycle and bus lanes and road speeds greater than delivery vans.

Furthermore, it provided evidence of shorter ‘doorstep’ times, due to their ability to park at or closer to delivery locations.

This latest funding announcement is part of the international Zero Emission Vehicle Summit being held in Birmingham tomorrow (Tuesday, September 11). The event is bringing together policy makers, industry experts and opinion formers from around globe to tackle carbon emissions and to explore ways to improve air quality.

It also comes as 16 of the UK’s largest van fleet operators have signed up to the Clean Van Commitment in a bid to go electric.

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