Councils turning vans to cargo bikes could save taxpayers £660 million

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If UK Councils switched from vans to e-cargo bikes to carry out public services it could save taxpayers £660 million in fuel and maintenance costs over four years, according to new research by Cargo Revolution.

Cargo Revolution is a campaign that provides a directory of companies and tradespeople from across the UK who deliver by bike. It is funded by Impact on Urban Health and carried out by the collective Glimpse, the consultancy MP Smarter Travel and Clean Cities Campaign.

To get to this result, the researchers considered the current number of council vans, Transport for London’s (TfL) Cargo Bike Action Plan and the Department of Transport’s (DfT) calculations on the cost of vans versus cargo bikes.

The campaign’s calculations show that 17% of deliveries in urban areas could be done by e-cargo bikes. This would save £270 million in capital costs and £390 million in fuel and maintenance over a four-year cycle. 

By adopting e-cargo bikes for tasks such as litter cleaning, parking maintenance, and council estate repairs, local authorities could remove over 8,500 diesel vans from the roads. 

Figures may be underestimated as many councils have outsourced their fleets to private contractors, according to the study.

Cargo bike charter

Calling for councils to shift from their vans to e-cargo bikes, Cargo Revolution has today launched the ‘Cargo Bike Charter’. The document includes a five-point plan to improve the infrastructure for cargo bikes and support individuals and businesses to switch away from polluting vehicles.

By signing up to the initiative, councils pledge to make the switch where possible. So far, Camden, Hackney, Hammersmith & Fulham, Lambeth, and Westminster have joined the initiative.

Oliver Lord from the Cargo Revolution campaign, told Zag Daily: “Cargo bikes can be a real boon for councils and businesses looking to save money, cut pollution and improve services. It’s great that we have five London boroughs on board with the Cargo Bike Charter already, with three others interested. We’d welcome support from other councils in London and the rest of the UK.”

Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said cargo bikes can be “real game changers for councils” when it comes to delivering freight and servicing trips, estate maintenance, and cleaning. 

“Not only do they provide environmental benefits by not contributing to air pollution, they also make journeys more efficient, and present a much lower risk of danger to people walking and cycling than vans and HGVs,” said Norman.

“The Mayor and I welcome this new charter – it supports the aims of our own recently launched Cargo Bike Action Plan to grow the use of cargo bikes, help both the environment and the health of Londoners, and build a better, safer, greener London for everyone.”

On 29 June, a group of cargo bikes will travel through central London to highlight the campaign and celebrate the charter.

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