Monday, August 21, 2017

You've got e-(Bike)-mail...

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #24
Croation Postal Workers try out their new e-bikes. Photo credit: Pro-e-bike
Although the use of bicycles for mail delivery is not a new thing, the growing popularity of e-bikes coupled with the fact that many postal services are now carried out by petrol-powered vehicles, arguably makes their reintroduction innovative once more.

It was with this in mind back in 2015 that the Croation Post Office - Hrvatska pošta - trialled the replacement of 180 petrol-powered mopeds with e-bikes. The results were clear: savings of around €920, or 85% per vehicle per year, plus a total annual reduction in CO2 emissions of 100 tonnes compared to using mopeds. Positive feedback was also received from the delivery workers using the e-bikes. In fact, the pilot was so successful that Hrvatska pošta decided to buy 180 new e-bikes before the 6-month trial period was even over, and they were unveiled by Croation Prime Minister Zoran Milanović.
Photo credit:
The scheme was one of a series of 30 pilots run by the EU-funded Pro-E-Bike project, which aimed to promote:
“electric bicycles and electric scooters (E -bikes), for delivery of goods and passenger transport among private and public bodies such as delivery companies, public administration and citizens in European urban areas as an alternative to "conventionally fossil fuelled" vehicles”.
In this case, the EU project co-funded the purchase of the e-bikes.
Royal Mail Postal workers on bikes: now a thing of the past. Photo credit: TheEgyptian
Hrvatska pošta’s switch to e-bikes came at roughly the same time as the UK’s Royal Mail decided to go in the opposite direction, citing concerns over safety. Royal Mail have now mothballed a bicycle fleet which was at one point the largest in the world and which dated back to the late 1800s. Encouragingly though, the trend amongst postal services elsewhere seems to be going the other way, with even TNT, their direct rivals for UK postal services, developing a bicycle fleet.

Meanwhile over the English Channel, France’s La Poste is building on it’s own history, having used bikes for deliveries since 1893. Their service already uses 20,000 e-bikes and have plans to increase this number to 28,000; allowing numbers of petrol-powered mopeds to be reduced from 10,000 to 6,500. Over in The Netherlands, mail service PostNL has replaced 100 routinely taken car journeys in central Amsterdam with 60 e-bikes and a network of inner-city bike transfer points.

Innovations: e-bikes

Organisation: Hrvatska pošta
Sector: Government
Country: Croatia
Basis: Initially a pilot; now permanent

Hrvatska pošta: “180 postmen deliver on electric bicycles (instead of mopeds)"
European Cyclists' Federation: "A New Move for Business in EU Cities"
Eltis: “Procuring e-bikes for cleaner postal deliveries in Croatia”
Ministarstvo Pomorstva, Prometa I Infrastrukture: "S prvih 180 električnih bicikala poštari Hrvatske pošte kreću u dostavu pošiljaka" (Croatian)
Večernji list doo: “Poštari na struju: Od rujna pošiljke će dostavljati biciklom na električni pogon” (Croatian)
Postel 2017: “Impact of Transport Means in Postal Traffic on Environment” (Katarina Mostarac, Zvonko Kavran, Estera Rakić, Žarko Barlović) (opens pdf)
The Guardian: "Royal Mail to phase out post bikes completely in 2014"
Museum of Tradesman's Delivery Bikes "1983 Pashley Post Office Bicycle / History of Post Office Bicycles"
La Tribune: “Vélo, nouveau moteur éco (3/4): La Poste et le vélo... toute une histoire!" (French)

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Consolidation Down Under: Sydney's CBD cycle logistics hub

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #23
Photo credit: TfNSW

Major infrastructure upgrades in Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD) have prompted State and Municipal authorities there to begin experimenting with promoting cycle logistics. Construction of a light rail line, upgrades and work on Central Station and the main ferry hub, and several large construction projects in central areas are causing disruption and changes to normal traffic flows. Perhaps traffic ‘flow’ isn’t the best term to describe traffic conditions which are, even at the best of times in this car-addicted city, congested to say the least. The average speed of vehicles in Sydney is said to be the worst in Australasia, and that was before the current disruption in the CBD.

In response, authorities have set up a cycle-logistics consolidation hub in a car park on the southern edge of the CBD. The project is a collaboration between Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW)(the State Government transport authority) and the City of Sydney (CoS)(the municipal authority covering the centre of Sydney). CoS owns the car park and TfNSW provided the cages and infrastructure. Several logistics companies are participating in the scheme, which began in early 2016.
The consolidation hub is located on the southern edge of the CBD.
The rationale behind the hub’s location is that it will allow last-mile deliveries to be made by bike, eliminating at least a portion of the CBD vehicle movements which would otherwise occur. Goods destined for the CBD are delivered by van to the hub and then loaded from off-street parking bays into secure cages. Bike couriers are then able to access these cages to collect and then deliver the goods to their final destinations. TfNSW estimates that at full capacity, the hub could reduce pressure on central loading bays by 4,600 hours (dwell time) per year and that 26,000 fewer kms would need to be driven in the CBD as a result.
Delivery vans unload goods into the cages from off street parking bays
It’s worth noting that this consolidation hub is different from those we’ve covered before in RIPPL; although it is on the edge of the CBD, it is still well within the city and in fact occupies a very central location. Outspoken in Cambridge or Foodlogica in Amsterdam, for example, are on the fringes of their respective cities and prevent vehicles from needing to enter urban centres altogether. In a sprawl city such as Sydney it could be argued that this is less practical, and in any case this project aims to have an impact on the CBD alone.

In order to test out the efficacy of the system, TfNSW ran side-by-side tests of delivery vans and bikes as they carried out 10 deliveries. The results were clear. Because bikes could travel via more direct routes, they travelled a third fewer kilometres than the vans. Bikes also took less than half the time to complete their rounds. Meanwhile, vans spent three times as long parked up compared to bikes. What’s more, whilst bike couriers hardly needed to walk at all, van drivers found themselves walking approximately a third of their total distance, all whilst their vehicle was parked up - it’s easier than driving around looking for a space.
Several logistics companies are using the facility. Photo credit: TfNSW
The scheme is an example of public-sector involvement in encouraging cycle-logistics, a trend we’ve covered before in RIPPL articles. It's a rare and welcome positive development for a NSW State Government which is not exactly renowned for cooperation with the progressive cycling policies of it's municipal City of Sydney counterparts. The Goulburn Street hub is not alone in Australia; a recent redevelopment of the Queen Victoria marketplaces in Melbourne set aside space for consolidation of last kilometre freight.

Innovations: Consolidation, Public Sector Involvement

Organisation: Transport for New South Wales / City of Sydney
Sector: State and Municipal Government
City: Sydney
Country: Australia
Basis: Permanent

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Gruten - turning coffee waste into soap... and how bikes are involved...

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #22
Founder Siri Mittet and Hurtigruten
Launched in 2014, Gruten is a small business which collects coffee waste from cafes in Oslo on an e-cargo bike. The bike has a name - Hurtigruten, after a Norwegian cruise ship operator. The coffee waste is used to produce hand made natural scrub soap and as compost for growing mushrooms.
Photo credit: Gruten
The e-cargo bike is integral to Gruten’s business model; founder Siri Mittet intended to use the bike for logistics from the very beginning. Indeed the company has a focus on sustainability in general; all profits go back into the running of the business and to social causes. For a business such as Gruten, an e-cargo bike is first and foremost a convenient form of transport. However using a bike can also make a statement about the ethos and aims of the organisation.
Hurtigruten (Photo Credit: GrowLab Oslo)
Gruten and the cafes enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship; the cafe has their coffee waste taken away and Gruten gets the main ingredient for the soap. The soap is sold in shops in and around Oslo; delivered by bike as much as possible. The finished soap is often sold in the same cafes the coffee grounds were sourced from; in these cases, a sticker is placed on the product saying so. The product is effective at getting rid of grease from hands, so is popular with people and businesses involved in bike maintenance.

Innovations: waste, recycling

Organisation: Gruten
Sector: Private
City: Oslo
Country: Norway
Bike Manufacturer: Bullitt
Basis: Permanent
Contact: Siri Mattet /


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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Waalre: Waste collection by e-trike and trailer

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #21
Photo credit: Gemeente Waalre
Gemeente Waalre, a small Dutch municipality located south of Eindhoven, has been piloting use of an e-trike with trailer for domestic waste collection. The 9-month trial, which ran from September 2016 in Voldijn, a small area of the town a 10 minute ride from the centre, aimed to reduce traffic in the area whilst increasing collection frequency. The e-trike replaced the truck which had previously serviced the area, and collections rose from once to twice per week in order to prevent rubbish piling up and beginning to smell.
The custom Redkutsche e-trike, which along with the trailer has a capacity of 200kg, allows all of the different waste streams (waste, nappies/diapers, food waste, plastic, metal and drink cartons) to be separately collected simultaneously. A third goal of the scheme was to reduce the amount of waste which was not recycled; in other words, to encourage residents to recycle more. Three months into the trial, the amount of waste going to landfill had approximately halved.
e-Trike rider Roel features in Newsletters sent to residents
Gemeente Waalre engaged the local community throughout the process and the trike rider, Roel van den Boom, featured in regular newsletters. Residents were able to put a human face and name to the scheme, a face which was present and accessible in the neighbourhood because he was riding a trike rather than a truck. This appears to have aided the popularity of the scheme, which has in turn increased cooperation and contributed to it’s success.

Gemeente Waalre are not alone in recognising the potential of bikes for waste collection; in fact, waste is a growing trend in cycle-logistics. Many other examples exist across the world and we’ll be featuring the most interesting ones in future posts.

Innovations: Waste

Organisation: Gemeente Waalre
Sector: Government
City: Waalre
Country: The Netherlands
Bike Manufacturer(s): Radkutsche
Basis: Pilot

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Disaster Relief Trials: Community, Racing and Preparedness

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #20
2014 Disaster Relief Trials-48
Photo credit: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland
The American Pacific Northwest sits on the Cascadia fault line, which runs north to south from Vancouver Island, Canada, past the cities of Vancouver, Seattle and Portland, before reaching northern California. The last major earthquake in the area was in 1700, but due to the nature of the fault, the next one could be very strong, with the potential to cause catastrophic levels of destruction in the area.

But what does this have to do with cycle logistics? In response to the threat of a future major earthquake, members of Portland's cycling community have held a series of events dubbed the Disaster Relief Trials (DRT), to test just how prepared they are.
2014 Disaster Relief Trials-13
Photo credit: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland
In a disaster it is critical that food, water and medical supplies can quickly reach the places they are needed most. Conventional supply methods are often unable to operate when roads are damaged or fuel is scarce. The group has therefore identified the bicycle, and in particular the cargo bike, as central to their response.

The DRT is an exercise that trains a diverse group of volunteers from across the community to be able to respond to disasters using their cargo bikes. The format of the DRT turns this rather serious exercise into something enjoyable; a race. This injects a realistic sense of urgency to proceedings, making it a community event that is, fun builds skills and provokes thoughts.
2014 Disaster Relief Trials-19
Photo credit: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland
Participants are challenged to carry heavy loads of water and supplies across rough terrain. Consignments of delicate medical supplies are simulated with eggs, which must make it to the end of the course intact. The courses are carefully picked to simulate a possibly hostile landscape, devoid of useful infrastructure. The competition format also encourages the collaboration that would be necessary in real life: competitors work together to help haul each other's loaded bikes over obstacles such as walls and ditches.
Photo credit: Kelley Stangl
The format proved so popular and effective in Portland that Seattle and San Francisco have followed suit, holding their own DRTs. The idea is spreading too; the town of Bend, Oregon, held it's own DRT in June 2017 and a Winter version of the DRT was held at the 2016 Winter Cycling Congress in Minneapolis. For a more detailed account of the DRT, watch the video or click on the links below for further reading. 
Portland DRT from Russ Roca on Vimeo.

Innovations: Racing, Disaster Relief

Organisation: Disaster Relief Trials
Sector: Community Organisation
Cities: Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Memphis
Country: USA

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Green to the Grave; Mortality as a Service

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #19
Co-operative Funeral Care's Tandem Hearse
Even in death there is a role for cycle logistics. In the UK the co-operative Funeralcare have made sure of that.

In 2010, in response to a request from the family of a cyclist, the UK-based funeral group arranged for a tandem hearse to be built. Co-op have since added a second tandem hearse to their permanent fleet and ‘last rides’ are now available on request at the group’s 900 nationwide branches. It is part of a wider trend towards alternative funerals; according to Co-op’s research, with 1 in 15 UK funerals in 2013 featuring a non-traditional hearse.
Wade Lind with his Tricycle Hearse. Photo Credit: Melissa Lind
The Co-op is not the only organisation to have had this idea. Over in the US, a funeral home in Eugene, Oregon also has a pedal-powered mode of transport. Wade Lind, owner of Sunset Hills Funeral Home, had the idea for an e-trike hearse, designed and then built it within the space of two weeks.

Lastly, The Netherlands are rarely outdone when it comes to cycling and it's often said that the Dutch are born on their bikes. To complete this journey from cradle to grave, Wim Koning built a beautiful funeral bike, which he presented at the ICBF in 2015.

We at RIPPL can't think of a better way to go.

Innovations: funeral hearse

Organisation: Co-operative Funeralcare
Sector: Private
Country: UK
Basis: Permanent

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Subsidised e-Cargo Bikes in Maastricht

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #18

A pilot scheme in Maastricht is allowing entrepreneurs and businesses to try out electric cargo bikes for free. Maastricht Bereikbaar (”Accessible Maastricht”, the city transport authority which is a collaboration between several government bodies, the local Municipality, the Province of Limburg and local businesses with an interest in logistics) is giving local initiatives the chance to test e-cargo bikes for six months.
Maastricht Bereikbaar are preparing Maastrichters for possible disruption when the Noorderbrug closes.
How does it work? Firstly, businesses buy or lease the e-cargo bikes themselves. In order to qualify for 100% reimbursement up to a maximum of €4000, participating businesses must make at least 4 journeys per day in and around the Maastricht area during the six month trial period. To ensure this condition is met, Maastricht Bereikbaar fits each e-cargo bike with a GPS tracker, which also provides valuable data about user behaviour. 

In August 2017 major works which will close the Noorderbrug, one of Maastricht’s main river crossings, so one of the scheme’s stated aims is to reduce traffic in Maastricht in anticipation of the disruption caused during this period. Therefore another requirement is that the e-cargo bike purchased replaces trips that would otherwise be taken by trucks or vans.

LEVV-LOGIC, a research project focussing on using light electric vehicles for freight, will evaluate the GPS data generated as well as the experiences of users, treating the trial as a Living Lab (we’ve covered CityServiceBike, another LEVV-LOGIC Living Lab in a previous post).

No van needed here
The scheme, which runs between July 2017 and March 2018, is open to a limited number of participants and interested parties can sign up here before 30th September. Several similar schemes, in which public sector subsidies are made available to promote cycle logistics, exist in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. has compiled a list here.

Innovations: Public sector involvement as a catalyst, traffic reduction

Organisation: Maastricht Bereikbaar
Sector: Government
City: Maastricht
Country: The Netherlands
Basis: Pilot
Contact: Mark Luikens and/or Francoise van den Broek /

LEVV-LOGIC July 2017 Newsletter (Dutch)

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