GIANT STEP TOWARDS ZERO-EMISSION?

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“Our new e-cargo bikes, walkers and growing electric vehicle delivery fleet will help us make more zero emission customer deliveries than ever before across London and the UK.”

-John Boumphrey, UK Country Manager, Amazon

Amazon having officially announced the launch of its first UK micromobility hub for more sustainable deliveries in Central London, van shaped electric cargo bikes won’t be a rarity in the London traffic. Amazon electric fleet, Amazon’s electric powered delivery vans, which are already on the roads of London, will be soon companioned by thousands of cute electric cargo bikes. These electric cargo bikes are nothing like the typical electric bikes or e-trikes used in package delivering. They are four-wheeled electric cargo bikes that look similar to a miniature delivery van, but use an e-bike drivetrain for propulsion. So that means the driver is in fact a rider who pedals the bike to engage an electric motor that magnifies his or her pedalling force. Eventually, the electric motor will be contributing much force to the bike, but still the rider has got to pedal to keep the bike going.

The vehicles are usually limited to a maximum speed of 25 km/h (15.5 mph), which is not an issue at all in delivering packages in the crowded city limits. ‘The new fleet of e-cargo bikes and walkers will directly replace thousands of traditional van trips on London’s roads and reduce traffic congestion’ says Amazon about their initiative. Now, the customers will be able to enjoy receiving their parcels to the very door step without being worried about the big delivery van blocking the road or desperately finding space to park the vehicle. “Tackling transport emissions is key if we’re to reach net zero. We’re really pleased to have worked with Amazon to support them to take traditional vans off the streets and replace them with e-cargo bikes. This will help to reduce emissions and improve air quality for people in Hackney and beyond” says the Hackney Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, Cllr Mete Coban.

However Amazon is not the only company which stepped forward to take a shift in traditional delivering methods. FedEx also has been deploying e-bikes for their delivering purposes in London while Domino’s recently partnered with Rad Power Bikes, a well-known electric bike service, to deliver pizza in a couple of cities. “E-bikes make a huge difference in my stores,” says Greg Keller, Seattle Domino’s franchisee. “While delivery on a traditional bike solved many of our traffic and parking issues, the hills in Seattle were tough on even our best cyclists. E-bikes were a game-changer for us. We have been able to save money, provide better service, increase hiring and maintain a happy workforce.”  has tested a battery-powered, four-wheeled cargo bike to haul cargo more efficiently in some of the world’s most congested streets and to reduce its carbon footprint. The company is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050. German delivery company DPD wants to use these mini-trucks that are actually e-bikes in disguise. In New York City, e-bikes are almost exclusively used by food delivery workers.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has also been using three-wheeled electric tricycles, which are built in the US by the American company Coaster Cycles and designed for carrying large loads such as an entire day’s mail route. There is a giant rear cargo box that provides 72 cubic feet (over 2,000 liters) of space for mail, and the bike is said to capable of holding up to 400 lb. (181 kg) of cargo.Powering the bike is Bosch’s Cargo Line e-bike drive system, which supplies the rear wheels with 85 Nm of torque. The drive system is paired with a 500 Wh battery to power the mid-drive motor, though multiple batteries can likely be swapped in to extend the range.

In Sri Lanka also, some leading food delivery services could be spotted deploying manual bicycles to deliver food, but not at all in the sense of zero-emission but because of the current fuel crisis. Nevertheless, it would be a great step towards sustainability if they continue it even after the crisis is resolved since electric cargo bikes in Sri Lanka is still a dream far-fetched.

By Induwara Athapattu