More and more people are switching to pedal powered couriers

Don’t be surprised if you see a bike piled high with parcels rushing past you in the cycle lane.

It’s probably one of the dozens of new cargo bikes that are replacing delivery vans across London.

From traders at Bermondsey Blue Market to businesses at London Bridge, more and more people are switching to pedal powered couriers.

It makes sense really – not only do bikes avoid the new Ultra Low Emissions Zone charges, but a Transport for London trial found them twice as fast as vans.

And with air quality of increasing concern in the capital, their low environmental impact is a plus too.

The scheme in Bermondsey, launched at the end of April, will see market businesses sharing a pool of delivery bikes, purchased with a share of a £170,000 pot from TfL’s Healthy Streets Fund for Business.


Apparently things get delivered much faster by bike than by van.

Jack Shah, chairperson of Blue Bermondsey Business Improvement District, said: “This is fantastic news for businesses at the Blue.”

Describing the potential for new cycle paths in the area, he added: “Business cargo bikes could use these routes for last mile zero emissions deliveries during weekday daytimes, to help reduce air pollution for our local communities.”

With TfL identifying a 20 per cent increase in goods vehicles in London since 2010, a solution which improves air quality, eases congestion and lowers road danger sounds like a great idea.

The two-wheeled deliveries will be fast too.

Faster than vans

Surprisingly, start up firm Pedal Me’s riders sped to victory in a TfL trial which pitted their bikes against van deliveries.

They weren’t taking a small load either – the riders dropped off construction materials at a Crossrail site in Whitechapel, having travelled from Wood Green.

Benjamin Knowles, founder and CEO of Pedal Me, said the supply contractor had been so impressed they were planning to continue getting deliveries by bike.

He said: “When people try our service they love it.

“Our highly trained employees can provide a better service than any traditional service running motor vehicles can in a city – faster, cheaper and cleaner.”

His firm – which also offers a cycle taxi service – have moved everything from furniture and food to lights and yacht supplies.

They have impressive green credentials too.

“Based on weight we estimate we offer a 97.5 per cent reduction in particulates compared to electric vans, as well as 90 per cent lower CO2 emissions once embedded carbon from manufacture is taken into account,” said Benjamin.

“Compared to traditional diesel vans, our figures will of course be even better.”

And, in 2019, even huge office relocations can happen on cycles.

Sustrans, the charity that helps people get about on foot and by bike, has just moved across the capital from Farringdon to Tower Hamlets, all using electric bikes.

The couriers covered 2.7 miles carrying an 117kg printer, 100 storage boxes, 50 crates full of IT equipment, three cupboards and two smoothie bikes,

Matt Winfield, Sustrans London Director, said: “Our office move here using cargo bikes just goes to prove it is possible to relocate the contents of a sizeable workplace in a busy capital city like London, in a way that is environmentally sound.

“We’re looking forward to continuing our exciting work, empowering communities across London to create happier places.”


But as the city’s streets get clogged with cars and climate concerns come to the fore, London seems on the brink of a cargo bike revolution.

Via My London