To introduce the e-cargo bike innovation portal module, NICRE innovation associate Steven Morrison Cairns from Food and Drink North East (FADNE), who is passionate about transitioning logistics and supply chain activities within the food and drink sector to low carbon solutions, explains the background and how e-cargo bikes could be used in rural areas.
Cargo bikes first came onto the scene nearly two decades ago when Rob King (co-founder of Zedify) launched the UK’s first commercial cargo bike service - Outspoken Deliveries - in Cambridge in 2005, a city that has been synonymous with the humble bicycle for generations.
Fast forward to 2017/2018 and two companies emerge onto the e-cargo bike playing field - PedalMe and Zedify - offering last-mile delivery solutions in London and Cambridge. Up until the Covid-19 pandemic hit our shores in 2020, the e-cargo logistics businesses throughout the UK only operated in our densely populated cities. That was until a group of mountain bikers in rural Yorkshire decided to set up a delivery service in Calderdale using bikes with trailers and e-cargo bikes – Cargodale was born and you can find out more about them in this module. This disruptive business showed the logistics world that our rural areas have a place for e-cargo bikes too, and their operation is expanding.
My e-cargo bike journey started in mid-2019 with ZMOVE in and around Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It wasn’t until the late spring of 2020 that I started looking at our rural towns in Northumberland, with the aim of following Cargodale on the rural logistics journey, an interest that has been spurred on by my role at NICRE.