Can Cargo Bikes Help Us to Replace Trucks and Minivans?

The mighty cargo bike.

I visited Amsterdam, also known as Bicycle Mecca, a few weekends ago and cargo bikes were in fact everywhere. They were carrying dogs. They were carrying kids (and not just one, but three). They were carrying groceries. They were carrying furniture. It certainly seemed that the cargo bike was the Amsterdam mini-van.

Amsterdam isn’t alone. In Copenhagen, 25% of families with two children or more have a cargo bike.

“But we don’t have the same bike infrastructure as in Europe,” you say.

It’s true, Amsterdam is one of those cities that’s well-known for its cycle culture, and it looks a lot different than where most of us live. There are, for example, about 780,000 people in Amsterdam, and an estimated 881,000 bikes, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t start embracing cargo bikes in a similar way. Many families across the country are opting for cargo bikes for family-friendly transportation, and even big businesses are getting on board.

The Whole Foods store on Third & 3rd in Brooklyn has partnered with People’s Cargo to to do all of their delivery via custom built cargo bike, for example. In Portland, Trailhead Roasters delivers craft coffee by cargo bicycle, custom built by Metrofiets. In Seattle, Freewheel Cargo works with a variety of businesses to deliver goods in the urban core. Red Riding Goods in Toronto runs a similar operation.

These are just a few examples, as more businesses are using cargo bikes to replace delivery trucks and vans. In big cities, cargo bikes instead of delivery trucks are a smart choice, as they reduce pollution, but also overall congestion, making a city’s urban core more pedestrian friendly.

Cargo bikes also provide an economic opportunity. In The Netherlands, shipping giant DHL runs 10% of their operation with cargo bikes. When they replaced 33 trucks with 33 cargo bikes, it resulted in a savings of 430,000 (about $578,000) per year.

When it comes to transportation, we seem to be stuck with the status quo. With better bike infrastructure across the country, though, we could make it easier for more and more businesses, and individuals, to opt for a cargo bike for transporting things, and people.

Cargo bikes aren’t going to replace trucks and minivans for all trips; I’m certain you don’t want to make the 70-mile drive to Grandma’s house with the whole family in a cargo bike. But for smaller trips, and particularly those in the heart of urban areas, using a cargo bike as a transportation option deserves credit, and we need more policy supporting them.

Imagine an urban center where there were fewer delivery trucks and more cargo bikes. That would mean less congestion, less pollution and fewer delivery people forced to sit in traffic. Doesn’t that sound like a good world to live in?

Photo Credit: Richard Masoner


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Warren Biggs
Warren Biggs3 years ago

We have finally to, reach the tipping point where Man's actions will have little to no effect to overall climate change. Have you read about the giant holes. They have now determined that these are places where the permafrost has melted enough to release its contents of CH4 and CO2. I don't know why it took them so long- anyone with a high school education could have figured that out. Anyway there are SIXTEEN BILLION TONS of rotting organic material which is being converted to methane and carbon dioxide. Methane is much, much worse than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. As the permafrost melts faster and faster, the only thing we can do is piss into a blazing inferno. So by all means drive your smart cars and ride your bicycles to give yourself a pat on the back, but keep in mind that, at this point, it doesn't matter at all. Yes, I am one of you- I don't drive everyday, I recycle, and rarely eat meat. It makes me feel better even if in the back of my mind, I realize that I have only added a drop of water into a blazing inferno. Anyone under the age of 50 should experience some "interesting" things. Anyone younger than 20 might get to see the collapse of the infrastructure of modernized countries. Where is my damned fiddle? lol

Ruhee B.
Ruhee B3 years ago

Gets my vote!!

Panchali Yapa
Panchali Yapa3 years ago

Thank you

Rosa Caldwell
Rosa Caldwell3 years ago

I seriously doubt it.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G3 years ago

Within city limits and some solar electic enhancement, sure!

Janis K.
Janis K3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

James Craigie
James Craigie3 years ago

I do hope more frieght travels this way, but somehow I doubt it will!

Alan Lambert
Alan Lambert3 years ago

It's a decent idea in cities with the infrastructure to handle it like Chicago and New York, It'd be kinda tough in the more spread out cities like LA and Phoenix.

Lisa Millar
Past Member 3 years ago