Pilot Project for Electric Cargo Bikes in Germany

electric cargo bikes
From agile courier bikes to heavy-duty transporters: with a capacity of 2300 litres, this cargo bike can carry up to 300 kilograms (load including rider). Credit: DLR (CC-BY-NC)

Despite their large potential to reduce emissions and increase transport efficiency, cargo bikes have thus far not been used to any significant extent for business purposes. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is seeking to exploit this potential to the greatest possible extent in the new nationwide ‘I unload cities’ project.

e-cargo bikes

Companies and institutions all over Germany can test one of the 150 e-cargo bikes in a roughly three-month trial period as part o fthe pilot project “I unload cities”. Credit: DLR (CC-BY-NC)

The project targets influencers and is intended to raise awareness for cargo bikes as a green alternative to the use of motorised vehicles. It is therefore seeking small to mid-sized companies from all sectors, as well as public institutions, trade firms or self-employed persons, who are interested in trying out the alternative transport vehicle for everyday business purposes. Scheduled to run for three years, the project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) as part of the National Climate Protection Initiative.

Research for sustainable and efficient, commercial transport in urban settings

“The provision of 150 cargo bikes puts ‘I unload cities’ on the list of very large-scale pilot projects in Germany, and even Europe-wide, which will create opportunities to test the commercial use of cargo bikes,” says Barbara Lenz, Head of the DLR Institute of Transport Research. “The project aims to raise awareness about cargo bikes as a green and economically efficient means of transport for broad commercial use and hence to demonstrate methods of designing sustainable transportation systems to influencers in the business and public sector communities,” explains Lenz.

‘I unload cities’ is coordinated by scientists at the DLR Institute of Transport Research and organised in collaboration with local government districts, chambers of industry and commerce, cargo bike manufacturers and other business partners. The close cooperation with regional partners from industry and public sector institutions ensures that the cargo bike idea will reach a broader audience across Germany, while also providing stakeholders with opportunities for vehicle tests and consultancy in the field.

Hop on and ride – test pilots are needed Germany-wide

Starting now and until mid-2019, a recruitment drive will be launched to find several hundred companies and institutions that are interested in trying a cargo bike as a commercial means of transport and who are willing to test its everyday suitability in a roughly three-month trial period. “This easy access to opportunities for testing an alternative vehicle type is particularly interesting to small companies, as they will not have to accept any financial risk,” says Johannes Gruber, project manager at the Institute of Transport Research. “We offer a broad range of cargo bike models, for instance tricycles, single-track Long Johns (extended wheelbase and load bed in front of the handlebars) or heavy-duty transporters with a load capacity of up to 300 kilograms,” Gruber continues. The choice of 17 different cargo bike models and the provision of extensive information material will allow even inexperienced users to get started immediately, while permitting a bespoke solution to reflect the transport needs of the individual companies. The ‘I unload cities’ project therefore gives interested parties the convenient and cost-efficient opportunity to test a cargo bike for their businesses.

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