A new report by think tank Green Alliance has calculated that if the UK is able to switch just 7.5% of urban motor traffic from diesel vans to e-cargo bikes, the annual carbon savings would be greater than the impact of eliminating all UK domestic aviation emissions.
Sharing the load: the potential of e-cargo bikes found that while van drivers mostly see electric vans as the “logical next step”, the UK government needs to do more to tear down barriers to them switching to e-cargo bikes for shorter journeys.
The report estimated that a switch to e-cargo bikes could result in an annual carbon saving of between 0.35-1.76MtCO2e.
The report stressed that the number of vans on the road and the emissions associated with them keep on rising. It called for a new approach to cut fleet-wide climate impacts, and recommended a mix of alternative modes of transport and technology for a more sustainable footing.
Johann Beckford, policy adviser at Green Alliance, said: “E-cargo bikes are not only an exciting solution to reducing carbon emissions, they can also help tackle air pollution, while improving productivity and cutting journey times in urban areas.”
The report did recognise that many businesses need convincing before investing in e-cargo bikes. It found many tradespeople and fleet managers are unaware of the potential of e-cargo bikes, and called on the government to introduce further demonstrator projects to increase the visibility of e-cargo bikes in use.
“For many businesses swapping a diesel van for an e-van makes the most sense, but there is also significant potential for more journeys to be made using e-cargo bikes. We need to see the government do more to raise awareness and make it easier for businesses to make the switch,” added Beckford.
The Department for Transport should provide financing for rental schemes to be administered through local authorities, the report recommended. With loans available for several weeks or months to allow businesses to realise the social, environmental and commercial benefits.