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April 12th 2014 saw 200 delegates from 25 countries descending on Nijmegen in the Netherlands for the second European Cycle Logistics Conference exploring the power of cycle delivery in developing new business models and reducing congestion in inner cities.

Increasingly companies understand that using bikes and cargo bikes relives congestion in cities and saves money. DHL Netherlands replaced 33 of their trucks with 33 cargo bikes, saving 152 metric tonnes of CO2 and € 430.000 per year. “In the Netherlands, 10% of all our vehicles are bikes”, said Arne Melse from DHL Netherlands. “The trend is accelerating. From our pilots in four EU countries we see that, indeed, it is possible to deliver by cycle”.

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In fact, bike delivery is extremely cost effective and the rise of e-commerce raises more demand for delivery in cities.

“It is boom time for cargo bikes. Big international companies like DHL are using bikes for deliveries, integrating them into their model. This is because up to 70% of delivery costs are in the last mile and they can save money and increase efficiency. Those companies also show that this is a credible solution for young businesses”, says Dr. Randy Rzewnicki, ECF Project Manager for CycleLogistics The EU-funded project CycleLogistics aims to reduce energy used in urban freight transport by replacing unnecessary motorised vehicles with bikes for intra-urban delivery and goods transport in Europe. The project has helped establish the Cycle Logistics Federation.

“We are witnessing a shift in the industry. We need a strong European Cycle Logistics Federation in order to establish minimum standards for municipalities and industry, multiply our lobbying efforts at national and European level and provide extensive support for start-up companies”, said Richard Armitage, founding Director of ECLF.

“There are 2.000-3.000 cargo bikes today in London. We estimate that sales of cargo bikes will increase up to 20% in 2014”, pointed out Andrea Casalotti, importer of cargo bikes in the UK.

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It is not only in Europe that cargo bikes are being seen on city streets. Locally Cargone Couriers in Melbourne, Australia have also had to expand their operations as businesses recognise the efficiencies of deliveries by bike. Tiffins Melbourne is another small business making the most of the advantages cargo bikes have on city streets around Australia, along with window cleaners, gardeners, and a legion of coffee and food businesses.

Have you had a brilliant idea about a business on wheels? Check out our Working Wheels competition for the chance to win a Christiania cargo bike from psbikes.