Killian O’Brien, who acquired a cargo bike a year ago as a means to go green and save money by getting rid of the family automobile, says, “It’s just enjoyable.” You feel fantastic being outside in the fresh air and working out without even realizing it.
Nearby his home in Stretford, Greater Manchester, O’Brien now notices an increasing number of others riding identical setups, while non-riders are constantly approaching to ask inquiries. “We have many chats. Particularly if the dog or attractive kids are in the front.
Typically, cargo bikes have a platform or tub that can be used to transport items or people, supported on two or more robust wheels. According to the Bicycle Association, O’Brien is one of thousands of private customers who purchased one in the last year, helping to nearly quadruple sales in the five months leading up to the end of May.
That comes after a growth of more than 40% the previous year and amid a general decline in bike sales, which have fallen following the boom experienced during the pandemic lockdowns.
Dan Parsons, owner of the London retailer Fully Charged, claimed that despite sometimes lengthy order wait times brought on by post-Brexit import issues and shortages of some parts, such as battery packs and chips, he was still selling dozens of cargo bikes each week to a mix of businesses and individuals.
Prices for new cargo bikes without electrical assistance range from roughly £2,000 to more than £5,000 for the more opulent models. Parris stated:
“We have an embarrassingly large order book. We used to be able to get a bike next day now it takes five to 10 days. If we could get more we could sell more.”
Andy Holme from Warlands cycle shop in Oxford said he has seen a “gentle climb” in sales of cargo bikes about eight years ago he maybe sold two in a year but now it’s as many as one a week, despite tougher competition from online and high street rivals. He credits Oxford’s traffic-clogged streets for the rise in interest, with most buyers being parents looking for an alternative for the school run and shopping trips.
“Interest is definitely increasing. It’s fashionable as you can see as all the big boys like Raleigh, Ridgeback and Cube have started doing cargo bikes. The more people are seen doing it the more chance someone driving past in their car and think, ‘I might do that.’
“In general, individuals are reconsidering how they move objects, go shopping, and how much time they spend in their cars. Convenience plays a large part. One of my clients claimed that having a cargo bike had given him back an hour and a half of his day.
Despite what he calls the “glacial pace” of creating bicycle infrastructure in the city, Richard Armitage of Manchester Cycles reports that sales of cargo bikes are up 50% year over year.
For example, Urban Arrow, Tern, Bakfiets, and Babboe have seen a rise in interest as cities across the UK, from Birmingham and Glasgow to London, introduce low-emission zones that charge drivers of fossil fuel-dependent vans and cars. These companies are not included in the Bicycle Association figures.
This week, Amazon announced the opening of its first UK cargo bike delivery hub in Hackney, east London, and promised to open several more around the nation this year, providing evidence that the trend is becoming more popular. The US online store is following the Co-op, Ocado, and a number of specialized freight courier companies in promoting the use of people-powered transportation.
Zedify, a specialized delivery service, now operates in ten UK cities and has more than doubled its fleet, which comprises trikes and four-wheeled “quads,” to 122 since 2019.
The business, which this week collaborated with significant logistics group Evri (formerly Hermes) to test out an e-cargo bike hub in Bristol, anticipates having more than 1,000 bikes in use within the next two years as it works to expand to 45 cities by 2025, supplying businesses like Freddie’s Flowers and Blackwell’s Bookstores.
“The cargo bike is one of those things that essentially has struck its time,” Zedify CEO Rob King remarked. New operational techniques have been made possible by the way cities are moving and vehicle restrictions.
He claimed that changing consumer demands for more environmentally friendly deliveries and increased gas prices were to blame.
As the UK came out of lockdown, demand for Pedal Me’s 90 bikes in London, up from roughly 50 in 2019, increased. The company, which delivers huge items like office furniture and empty beer kegs to care packages for those sheltering during the pandemic, is planning to increase its fleet this year.
Customers “come to us in the first instance because they enjoy the idea of using bikes and think there’s a PR aspect, but the reason they stay is plain cheaper,” according to Ben Knowles of Pedal Me. A more effective way of conducting business is on cargo bikes.
Up to 30% of delivery and service journeys currently made in towns and cities by vans and lorries might be replaced, according to the Bicycle Association, which has urged the UK government to offer incentives to help businesses make the changeover.