400 tonnes of CO2 emissions saved through bike logistics in 2020

Cycle logistics prevents CO2 emissions and thus protects the environment. By 2020, logisticians have saved 400 tonnes of polluting emissions by switching to cycling. This is the equivalent of around 100 light commercial vehicles being allowed to stand still. Thus, the 1.6 million kilometres cycled by muscle power and with electric power assistance last year make a significant contribution to the Climate Protection Programme 2030, which the Federal Government decided on 9 October 2019.

Study on the current situation of bicycle logistics

This is the conclusion of the Industry Report 2021 by the German Cycle Logistics Association, which surveyed 48 industry players over a period of about three weeks at the beginning of the year. The participation was anonymous, answers were collected by a questionnaire. The evaluation was carried out by the Institute for Logistics and Material Flow Technology at Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg.

Dynamic bike logistics on a clear growth path

In addition to a positive impact on the environment, the study shows further trends in bicycle logistics. Thus, the industry is a dynamic job engine - also due to its role as a system-relevant service provider in the Corona pandemic. Currently, 2,600 people are employed here, and last year they produced around 10,000 trailers, i.e. combinations of bicycles and cargo bikes. With a turnover of 76 million euros, the business - in contrast to other mobility sectors - is still microscopically small, but clearly on a growth path. 75 percent of the respondents expect an increase in turnover in 2021. And another 68 percent expect an increase in the number of employees.

STVZO could restrict growth

But difficulties also affect the industry, as the study shows. For example, there is currently a discussion about the legal classification of cargo bikes. In principle, the legal limits up to which a cargo bike counts as a bicycle should be defined in a much more restrictive way. If this definition is seen too strictly, there is a danger that cargo bikes will become uneconomical for many applications. However, in order for cargo bikes to be able to replace even more small cars in the future and thus avoid CO2 emissions, they must enable high payloads and transport volumes, in other words: be longer than a bicycle. Manufacturers - including VSC Bike - are already working on innovative models here. However, these could collide with the Road Traffic Licensing Regulations (Straßenverkehrs-Zulassungs-Ordnung, STVZO), which specify the length of bicycles at four metres in § 30a paragraph 3. "Here, the federal government should send a clear signal for environmental protection, remove the length limit in the STVZO and thus promote the production of innovative models of bicycle and cargo bike," says Raik Vollmann, Managing Director of VSC Bike GmbH.

Clear commitment of the federal government

With regard to the acquisition of cargo bikes, the federal government has already made a clear commitment to cargo bikes with the new funding guideline of 1 March 2021. This trend must be continued, because logistics has been growing at an above-average rate for many years. According to the industry report, cycle logistics has the potential to take over around 30 percent of the market share of deliveries in urban areas. In order for the industry to achieve this and continue to work towards reaching the climate goals of the federal government, it needs a change in the current conditions. Here, above all, urban development is called upon, because the expansion of the bicycle infrastructure with cycle path networks of at least two metres in width is essential. The introduction of a congestion charge - already successfully implemented in London, Stockholm, Milan and Gothenburg - could give cycle logistics an additional boost. Then the industry will achieve significantly more than the 400 tonnes reduction in CO2 emissions achieved in 2020.

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