West Yorkshire


A rural e-cargo bike delivery service.


Cargodale is an e-cargo bike delivery service in rural West Yorkshire, covering Todmorden, Hebden Bridge, Halifax and the surrounding communities. It was set up in 2020 as a pandemic response, to enable local small businesses to offer home delivery and support individuals who were self-isolating, using a hired e-cargo bike. It now has a fleet of seven bikes and employs four riders, delivering everything from bread and groceries to artworks.

Its key successes

In its first year, Cargodale undertook 2,500 deliveries for a wide range of local businesses, many at no charge. Its bikes were also used for welfare visits and food bank deliveries. Thanks to an award from the Emergency Active Travel Fund, it expanded its delivery area and shifted from using volunteer riders to paid employees. It was also able to open a micro-consolidation hub and delivery booking office in a local market with support from Todmorden Town Board.

It has demonstrated that e-cargo bikes are effective in hilly rural areas and has directly supported small businesses in reducing their environmental impacts. The bikes have also been used for showcase days where individuals, families and businesses can try one out for themselves and discuss e-bikes in an informal friendly environment. A number of people locally have purchased their own e-cargo bikes as a direct result of this.

Its key challenges

The start-up cost of a bike delivery service is high. Cargodale was initially self-funded and later received external funding that enabled us to purchase our own fleet of bikes.

There has been a learning curve with using the bikes in a rural area and finding out how hills, loads and cold weather affect range. Cargodale still get reasonable ranges of 20-30 miles from its bikes and the key is not to exceed these, as riding an unpowered cargo bike is very difficult.

The bikes have a maximum load of 100kg and limited capacity compared to a van, so size and packing of deliveries is an important consideration.

Navigation can be challenging as many rural addresses are missing from Google Maps and its routing function doesn’t cater well to bikes.

Cargodale has encountered unrealistic expectations regarding pick-up and delivery times. The city bike courier model where deliveries can be undertaken at very short notice doesn’t work well in less densely populated areas.

It can be difficult achieving sufficient density of drops to make a paid service profitable. To make a service financially viable, there either needs to be an element of subsidy or a lot of investment in engagement and marketing.

Cargodale director

Antony de Heveningham explains more:

Antony said:

“Cargodale has shown that efficient, environmentally-friendly e-bike delivery is possible even in a hilly, semi-rural area. Our riders enjoy using the bikes and we’ve been able to support a number of local people whose livelihoods were affected by the pandemic. The reception has been hugely positive and customers love getting their deliveries by bike.”


Please access the links below for further information, including the end-of-project report, a blog about Cargodale and customer profiles.

Contact details for the project: