Electric Cargo Bike Hires: Oxford Road Corridor – Last Mile Delivery
Manchester City Council received funding to purchase four electric-assist cargo bikes for use free of charge by local businesses and organisations in and around the Manchester Oxford Road Corridor. The bikes have been loaned to various local SMEs, as well as partner university departments. The are being used to make low carbon, convenient deliveries of everything from parcels, food, and Lego
As the Oxford Road Corridor has restricted automobile access, the City Council had an interest in trialling new solutions for last mile delivery for the local businesses along the corridor. By facilitating a cargo bike hire scheme, local SMEs and the universities along the corridor did not need to invest in upfront costs for cargo bikes and were able to trial the solution before committing to it.
Manchester City Council received €40,000 from the Triangulum project. They procured the services of Manchester Bike Hire (MBH), a cycle logistics company. MBH offer a full wraparound service to bicycle users, with trial sessions to identify the most suitable bicycles and train riders. They also ensure the bicycles are maintained. These services, along with general logistics advice, have been invaluable.
Bicycle telematics log journey data programmatically via a web API.
The bikes have telematics installed. These monitor the journeys undertaken, and detailed information is available about journeys, as well as the emissions reductions achieved. The bikes are free of charge and available on a three month loan. They can replace a car or van journey, as well as being more convenient within the new traffic restrictions (no vehicles except bicycles,buses and taxis between 6am – 9pm) on Oxford Road. The cargo bikes can also save significant amounts of time on deliveries.
They also promote business’ ‘green credentials’.
Who was involved and what did they contribute?
- Manchester City Council – Facilitated the scheme between Manchester Bike Hire, the logistics company, the universities and local SMEs
- Manchester Bike Hire – Provided bikes for the hire scheme
- SeeSense – Cycle logistics, tracking and analytics
- Universities – Participated in the scheme to decrease the emissions outputs, encouraged within university departments
- Local SMEs – Participated in the scheme to improve last mile delivery down the corridor
Challenges & Lessons Learnt
- Procurement: we wanted to work with a local company who could provide the proper bespoke service
- Purchase vs Hire: we can usually “buy” things as a council – but if it’s a service then it can be more problematic – both within European funding and within the council – but we didn’t have the resource or experience to run a bike hire scheme ourselves
- Moving from a “free” model to a sustainable business model
- Making Data available from a proprietary API
- A ‘cycling champion’ within partner organisations is key. For those not already regular cyclists, the electric-assist function and size of the bikes can appear challenging. Moving to cycling from driving is also a behaviour change, which is why a champion is vital.
- Protective equipment, and whether this is required, has been challenging.
- Storage of a larger than average bicycle out of the elements has also proved a challenge for small organisations.
The bike hire scheme has allowed several SMEs to improve the logistics of their last mile delivery in response to the new traffic restrictions along the corridor without having to pay upfront costs for a solution they had not trialed. It has been very successful with the SMEs, more so than the university departments which were encouraged by the universities to participate. This is likely because the SMEs had a significant need to improve logistics due to the new traffic restrictions while the university still had vehicle access to alternate campus entrances from Oxford Road negating the necessity of innovative delivery solutions.
The cargo bike hire scheme is an active project that the City Council are managing under the Triangulum project.
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