Brighton Electric Cargo Bikes

Brighton & Hove City Council’s eCargo Bike Accelerator Programme is building a strong business case for electric cargo bikes to largely replace diesel vehicles for urban deliveries.

Brighton & Hove City Council's story

Electric cargo bikes offer clean and efficient deliveries – replacing polluting vans – and are especially suited to towns and city centres. Councils can pioneer their use on urban streets – and help encourage local businesses to make the switch.

Electric cargo bikes contribute towards lower emissions and improved air quality. Electric cargo bikes may have two, three or four wheels, but all models feature a large container for transporting goods and equipment.

Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) has bought 12 bikes, some of which can carry loads of up to 150kg in weight. These are used by by council teams and small businesses in the city.

BHCC's post room, cemeteries teams, community engagement team and cycle instructors use electric cargo bikes. A further five have been given to sustainable logistics company Zedify to support business deliveries across Brighton & Hove. Five other electric cargo bikes were awarded to local businesses.

The aim of this project is to build a strong business case that demonstrates that electric cargo bikes can largely replace diesel vans for urban deliveries and in turn encourages local businesses to adopt electric cargo bikes.

Brighton & Hove City Council’s eCargo Bike Accelerator Programme aims to boost the uptake of electric cargo bikes among small businesses. The scheme offers a £125 subsidy to local businesses that switch from polluting vehicles to use Zedify’s electric cargo bike courier service.

Project support also includes impartial advice on the best electric cargo bike to suit different budgets and business needs, free rider training, and the promotion of businesses on the eCargo Bike Accelerator project webpage.

Useful learnings from Brighton & Hove City Council

Raising awareness of benefits:
Success in getting local businesses to adopt electric cargo bikes has been in part due to the council raising awareness and engaging companies directly on the financial case and other benefits.

The benefits include cheaper purchasing and operating costs compared with cars and vans; easier and more convenient parking and loading in congested areas; zero emissions and access to car-free areas; and a positive image for the business.

The council first worked with Energy Savings Trust to gain knowledge of the electric cargo bike sector, and to support their application for grant funding. The council also worked closely with MP Smarter Travel, a London based sustainable travel consultancy that supported the local authority’s promotion and engagement with businesses. This included helping to identify companies which may be interested in e-cargo bikes, determining their eligibility for the subsidy scheme, and guiding them to take part or to buy their own bike.

Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic impacted on delivery and supply chains. However, manufacturers are beginning to build good stock levels of varying models so obtaining electric cargo bikes should start to get easier for other councils.

Giving council staff and business owners training to use electric cargo bikes confidently is essential to ensuring the electric cargo bike is used enough, whilst also ensuring that they have the right type of bike to suit their needs and local geography. This helps council teams and local business to ensure maximum benefits by getting daily use out of the bikes.

Brighton & Hove City Council's metrics

Council teams have been impressed with the bikes. For example, the cemetery team report that they make carrying tools and equipment much easier, as it has an open top box, whilst also being far quieter than diesel vans.

The impact has however gone beyond the council’s own use of the bikes. For example, providing an electric cargo bike to Brighton & Hove Energy Services Co-op has created an immediate impact, helping vulnerable community residents. By using an electric cargo bike, the co-op can survey homes and install energy saving measures in just one client visit, due to the increased storage capacity compared with the regular pedal bikes that the organisation was using beforehand. This allows the co-op to support twice as many households through their fuel poverty alleviation programme, and reduce delays that vulnerable residents can face in making their cold homes more comfortable.

The project has also had a significant impact on local businesses. Local business Brighton Gin received an e-cargo bike in 2020 and has now recorded over 2,200 miles that would have been made by their diesel vehicles.
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