Thursday, August 17, 2017

Consolidation Down Under: Sydney's CBD cycle logistics hub

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #23
Photo credit: TfNSW

Major infrastructure upgrades in Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD) have prompted State and Municipal authorities there to begin experimenting with promoting cycle logistics. Construction of a light rail line, upgrades and work on Central Station and the main ferry hub, and several large construction projects in central areas are causing disruption and changes to normal traffic flows. Perhaps traffic ‘flow’ isn’t the best term to describe traffic conditions which are, even at the best of times in this car-addicted city, congested to say the least. The average speed of vehicles in Sydney is said to be the worst in Australasia, and that was before the current disruption in the CBD.

In response, authorities have set up a cycle-logistics consolidation hub in a car park on the southern edge of the CBD. The project is a collaboration between Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW)(the State Government transport authority) and the City of Sydney (CoS)(the municipal authority covering the centre of Sydney). CoS owns the car park and TfNSW provided the cages and infrastructure. Several logistics companies are participating in the scheme, which began in early 2016.
The consolidation hub is located on the southern edge of the CBD.
The rationale behind the hub’s location is that it will allow last-mile deliveries to be made by bike, eliminating at least a portion of the CBD vehicle movements which would otherwise occur. Goods destined for the CBD are delivered by van to the hub and then loaded from off-street parking bays into secure cages. Bike couriers are then able to access these cages to collect and then deliver the goods to their final destinations. TfNSW estimates that at full capacity, the hub could reduce pressure on central loading bays by 4,600 hours (dwell time) per year and that 26,000 fewer kms would need to be driven in the CBD as a result.
Delivery vans unload goods into the cages from off street parking bays
It’s worth noting that this consolidation hub is different from those we’ve covered before in RIPPL; although it is on the edge of the CBD, it is still well within the city and in fact occupies a very central location. Outspoken in Cambridge or Foodlogica in Amsterdam, for example, are on the fringes of their respective cities and prevent vehicles from needing to enter urban centres altogether. In a sprawl city such as Sydney it could be argued that this is less practical, and in any case this project aims to have an impact on the CBD alone.

In order to test out the efficacy of the system, TfNSW ran side-by-side tests of delivery vans and bikes as they carried out 10 deliveries. The results were clear. Because bikes could travel via more direct routes, they travelled a third fewer kilometres than the vans. Bikes also took less than half the time to complete their rounds. Meanwhile, vans spent three times as long parked up compared to bikes. What’s more, whilst bike couriers hardly needed to walk at all, van drivers found themselves walking approximately a third of their total distance, all whilst their vehicle was parked up - it’s easier than driving around looking for a space.
Several logistics companies are using the facility. Photo credit: TfNSW
The scheme is an example of public-sector involvement in encouraging cycle-logistics, a trend we’ve covered before in RIPPL articles. It's a rare and welcome positive development for a NSW State Government which is not exactly renowned for cooperation with the progressive cycling policies of it's municipal City of Sydney counterparts. The Goulburn Street hub is not alone in Australia; a recent redevelopment of the Queen Victoria marketplaces in Melbourne set aside space for consolidation of last kilometre freight.

Innovations: Consolidation, Public Sector Involvement

Organisation: Transport for New South Wales / City of Sydney
Sector: State and Municipal Government
City: Sydney
Country: Australia
Basis: Permanent

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Gruten - turning coffee waste into soap... and how bikes are involved...

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #22
Founder Siri Mittet and Hurtigruten
Launched in 2014, Gruten is a small business which collects coffee waste from cafes in Oslo on an e-cargo bike. The bike has a name - Hurtigruten, after a Norwegian cruise ship operator. The coffee waste is used to produce hand made natural scrub soap and as compost for growing mushrooms.
Photo credit: Gruten
The e-cargo bike is integral to Gruten’s business model; founder Siri Mittet intended to use the bike for logistics from the very beginning. Indeed the company has a focus on sustainability in general; all profits go back into the running of the business and to social causes. For a business such as Gruten, an e-cargo bike is first and foremost a convenient form of transport. However using a bike can also make a statement about the ethos and aims of the organisation.
Hurtigruten (Photo Credit: GrowLab Oslo)
Gruten and the cafes enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship; the cafe has their coffee waste taken away and Gruten gets the main ingredient for the soap. The soap is sold in shops in and around Oslo; delivered by bike as much as possible. The finished soap is often sold in the same cafes the coffee grounds were sourced from; in these cases, a sticker is placed on the product saying so. The product is effective at getting rid of grease from hands, so is popular with people and businesses involved in bike maintenance.

Innovations: waste, recycling

Organisation: Gruten
Sector: Private
City: Oslo
Country: Norway
Bike Manufacturer: Bullitt
Basis: Permanent
Contact: Siri Mattet /


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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Waalre: Waste collection by e-trike and trailer

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #21
Photo credit: Gemeente Waalre
Gemeente Waalre, a small Dutch municipality located south of Eindhoven, has been piloting use of an e-trike with trailer for domestic waste collection. The 9-month trial, which ran from September 2016 in Voldijn, a small area of the town a 10 minute ride from the centre, aimed to reduce traffic in the area whilst increasing collection frequency. The e-trike replaced the truck which had previously serviced the area, and collections rose from once to twice per week in order to prevent rubbish piling up and beginning to smell.
The custom Redkutsche e-trike, which along with the trailer has a capacity of 200kg, allows all of the different waste streams (waste, nappies/diapers, food waste, plastic, metal and drink cartons) to be separately collected simultaneously. A third goal of the scheme was to reduce the amount of waste which was not recycled; in other words, to encourage residents to recycle more. Three months into the trial, the amount of waste going to landfill had approximately halved.
e-Trike rider Roel features in Newsletters sent to residents
Gemeente Waalre engaged the local community throughout the process and the trike rider, Roel van den Boom, featured in regular newsletters. Residents were able to put a human face and name to the scheme, a face which was present and accessible in the neighbourhood because he was riding a trike rather than a truck. This appears to have aided the popularity of the scheme, which has in turn increased cooperation and contributed to it’s success.

Gemeente Waalre are not alone in recognising the potential of bikes for waste collection; in fact, waste is a growing trend in cycle-logistics. Many other examples exist across the world and we’ll be featuring the most interesting ones in future posts.

Innovations: Waste

Organisation: Gemeente Waalre
Sector: Government
City: Waalre
Country: The Netherlands
Bike Manufacturer(s): Radkutsche
Basis: Pilot

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Disaster Relief Trials: Community, Racing and Preparedness

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #20
2014 Disaster Relief Trials-48
Photo credit: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland
The American Pacific Northwest sits on the Cascadia fault line, which runs north to south from Vancouver Island, Canada, past the cities of Vancouver, Seattle and Portland, before reaching northern California. The last major earthquake in the area was in 1700, but due to the nature of the fault, the next one could be very strong, with the potential to cause catastrophic levels of destruction in the area.

But what does this have to do with cycle logistics? In response to the threat of a future major earthquake, members of Portland's cycling community have held a series of events dubbed the Disaster Relief Trials (DRT), to test just how prepared they are.
2014 Disaster Relief Trials-13
Photo credit: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland
In a disaster it is critical that food, water and medical supplies can quickly reach the places they are needed most. Conventional supply methods are often unable to operate when roads are damaged or fuel is scarce. The group has therefore identified the bicycle, and in particular the cargo bike, as central to their response.

The DRT is an exercise that trains a diverse group of volunteers from across the community to be able to respond to disasters using their cargo bikes. The format of the DRT turns this rather serious exercise into something enjoyable; a race. This injects a realistic sense of urgency to proceedings, making it a community event that is, fun builds skills and provokes thoughts.
2014 Disaster Relief Trials-19
Photo credit: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland
Participants are challenged to carry heavy loads of water and supplies across rough terrain. Consignments of delicate medical supplies are simulated with eggs, which must make it to the end of the course intact. The courses are carefully picked to simulate a possibly hostile landscape, devoid of useful infrastructure. The competition format also encourages the collaboration that would be necessary in real life: competitors work together to help haul each other's loaded bikes over obstacles such as walls and ditches.
Photo credit: Kelley Stangl
The format proved so popular and effective in Portland that Seattle and San Francisco have followed suit, holding their own DRTs. The idea is spreading too; the town of Bend, Oregon, held it's own DRT in June 2017 and a Winter version of the DRT was held at the 2016 Winter Cycling Congress in Minneapolis. For a more detailed account of the DRT, watch the video or click on the links below for further reading. 
Portland DRT from Russ Roca on Vimeo.

Innovations: Racing, Disaster Relief

Organisation: Disaster Relief Trials
Sector: Community Organisation
Cities: Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Memphis
Country: USA

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Green to the Grave; Mortality as a Service

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #19
Co-operative Funeral Care's Tandem Hearse
Even in death there is a role for cycle logistics. In the UK the co-operative Funeralcare have made sure of that.

In 2010, in response to a request from the family of a cyclist, the UK-based funeral group arranged for a tandem hearse to be built. Co-op have since added a second tandem hearse to their permanent fleet and ‘last rides’ are now available on request at the group’s 900 nationwide branches. It is part of a wider trend towards alternative funerals; according to Co-op’s research, with 1 in 15 UK funerals in 2013 featuring a non-traditional hearse.
Wade Lind with his Tricycle Hearse. Photo Credit: Melissa Lind
The Co-op is not the only organisation to have had this idea. Over in the US, a funeral home in Eugene, Oregon also has a pedal-powered mode of transport. Wade Lind, owner of Sunset Hills Funeral Home, had the idea for an e-trike hearse, designed and then built it within the space of two weeks.

Lastly, The Netherlands are rarely outdone when it comes to cycling and it's often said that the Dutch are born on their bikes. To complete this journey from cradle to grave, Wim Koning built a beautiful funeral bike, which he presented at the ICBF in 2015.

We at RIPPL can't think of a better way to go.

Innovations: funeral hearse

Organisation: Co-operative Funeralcare
Sector: Private
Country: UK
Basis: Permanent

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Subsidised e-Cargo Bikes in Maastricht

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #18

A pilot scheme in Maastricht is allowing entrepreneurs and businesses to try out electric cargo bikes for free. Maastricht Bereikbaar (”Accessible Maastricht”, the city transport authority which is a collaboration between several government bodies, the local Municipality, the Province of Limburg and local businesses with an interest in logistics) is giving local initiatives the chance to test e-cargo bikes for six months.
Maastricht Bereikbaar are preparing Maastrichters for possible disruption when the Noorderbrug closes.
How does it work? Firstly, businesses buy or lease the e-cargo bikes themselves. In order to qualify for 100% reimbursement up to a maximum of €4000, participating businesses must make at least 4 journeys per day in and around the Maastricht area during the six month trial period. To ensure this condition is met, Maastricht Bereikbaar fits each e-cargo bike with a GPS tracker, which also provides valuable data about user behaviour. 

In August 2017 major works which will close the Noorderbrug, one of Maastricht’s main river crossings, so one of the scheme’s stated aims is to reduce traffic in Maastricht in anticipation of the disruption caused during this period. Therefore another requirement is that the e-cargo bike purchased replaces trips that would otherwise be taken by trucks or vans.

LEVV-LOGIC, a research project focussing on using light electric vehicles for freight, will evaluate the GPS data generated as well as the experiences of users, treating the trial as a Living Lab (we’ve covered CityServiceBike, another LEVV-LOGIC Living Lab in a previous post).

No van needed here
The scheme, which runs between July 2017 and March 2018, is open to a limited number of participants and interested parties can sign up here before 30th September. Several similar schemes, in which public sector subsidies are made available to promote cycle logistics, exist in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. has compiled a list here.

Innovations: Public sector involvement as a catalyst, traffic reduction

Organisation: Maastricht Bereikbaar
Sector: Government
City: Maastricht
Country: The Netherlands
Basis: Pilot
Contact: Mark Luikens and/or Francoise van den Broek /

LEVV-LOGIC July 2017 Newsletter (Dutch)

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Pedal Me - MaaS by bike on the streets of London

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #17

London-based startup Pedal Me is taking the trend of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) and applying it to bikes. The company exists to carry a precious cargo around the city; passengers. To do this, specially adapted bikes, which were developed in collaboration with Dutch manufacturer Urban Arrow, are used. A smartphone app allows customers to request rides, get a price estimate and follow the progress of their rider as they approach.
Pedal Me's unique selling point in such a congested city is speed; bicycles can travel much faster across London than traditional vehicles. To prove this beyond doubt, trials were run in summer 2016 which included tests over five different 2 mile courses in Central London. Average times were compared to Google Maps estimates for a car taking the same trip (estimates which in practice are mostly underestimated, time-wise).

The test results were clear: on average, journeys took 10mins for the bike and 19mins for the car. The verdict; once Pedal Me are operating at scale they should be able to complete almost twice as many journeys as cars. This potentially puts them in an immensely advantageous position compared to other MaaS providers such as Uber; bikes cost less to run but can do more.

This extra capacity allows Pedal Me the financial space in which to operate a responsible business model where close relationships with direct employees working for reasonable pay can be fostered. This focus on good labour relations will allow quality control over how employees ride and eliminate perverse incentives.

The plan is indeed to scale up the idea, firstly in London and then across the UK. If it works in London, with the perceived intensity and hostility of the road conditions there, it should be able to work anywhere, although each new location would come with a unique set of challenges. London's network of separated cycle lanes is growing, but is currently nowhere near that of any city in The Netherlands. So as London makes the transition to a more cycle friendly city over the coming decades, as current trends suggest it will, business conditions for Pedal Me are likely to grow ever more favourable.

Despite this, founder Ben Knowles is pragmatic about working within the current situation: “The main issue we have here in London is training the riders to a level that we're happy with them riding in traffic with customers on board. The things that are generally good practice for riding in traffic are not that intuitive, such as riding in line with the vehicles and being confident about taking the whole lane. It's much safer but it is quite intimidating for new riders.”

“Our test is quite hard; you have to pass Bikeability Level 3, then there's a handling test away from traffic, followed by a 30 minute test similar to the UK driving test, with minor, major and serious faults. If there are any major or serious faults, that could potentially end up with a collision, then that rider fails. We'd review at that point and decide whether to invite that person back again. A serious fault is defined as one where you only have to do it 5-10 times and you'll have a collision and are taking evasive action; a major fault is any which fails the 'Bens Granny Test' - something which would either make my Granny nervous, or would result in a collision if you tried the same move 500 or 1000 times. It's based on a risk assessment and we wrote the requirements of the testing to suit that.”

Another aim is for Pedal Me to act as a catalyst, to inspire others to cycle and think about cargo bikes in particular. This has inspired the Pedal Me team lead to introduce elements of diversification into their business model. Regular school runs and delivery of small packages are already parts of Pedal Me's repertoire. Knowles adds: “One of the impacts I'm hoping it's going to have is to increase the number of people on cargo bikes, because you're showing people what's possible, getting people thinking. We quite often have conversations with passengers about where you could get a bike like this.”

Innovations: Mobility as a Service (Maas)

Organisation: Pedal Me
Sector: Mobility
Cities: London
Country: UK
Basis: Permanent
Contact: Ben Knowles, +44 (0)203 189 1612, 

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Rita Bringt's - Viennese Meals on (Pedal Powered) Wheels

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #16
Started in 2014 by two Salzburgers; nutritionist Rita Huber and Gerald Költringer, Founder and Owner of an internet design company, Rita Bringt's is a catering and food delivery business based in Vienna, Austria.
Using a fleet of 13 refrigerated Bullitts, plus several trikes, the company delivers handmade meals to Viennese homes and businesses. Rita and Gerald have built the company with sustainability in mind: all of the packaging they use is recyclable or biodegradable, all ingredients used are locally sourced and organic where possible and customers must order before 4pm the day before meaning waste is minimised. It's easy to see where the use of bikes for deliveries fits into this sustainable business model. Compatibility with their environmentally responsible ethos combined with operational flexibility and efficiency makes using cargo bikes an obvious choice for Rita Bringt's.
Food delivery is one of the major trends in cycle logistics at the moment and there are a number of different models that organisations are using; organisations such as Deliveroo and Foodora come to mind, for example. However, Rita Bringt's is different; they are an example of a different breed of successful, city-based, small-to-medium sized food businesses using cargo bikes to transport self-produced; a similar example in Amsterdam is Marleen Kookt. Initiatives such as these seem to thrive in cities where good cycling infrastructure is present.
We were lucky enough to sample Rita Bringt's food when they catered for the European Cycle Logistics Federation Conference in Vienna recently and can confirm; food just tastes better when it's been delivered by bike.

Innovations: Food, Sustainability

Organisation: Rita Bringt's
Sector: Food
City: Vienna
Country: Austria
Bike Manufacturer: Larry vs. Harry / Bullitt
Basis: Permanent

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Bicylift: Euro-pallets... by bike

Register of Initiatives in Pedal Powered Logistics - RIPPL #15
The humble Euro-pallet; along with the shipping container, perhaps the most ubiquitous standardised design in logistics. The other thing Euro-pallets have in common with shipping containers? It's not really possible to use them for cycle logistics. Until now, that is.

Charles Levaillan is a Mechanical Engineer from Rennes, France. In 2014 he was working on boat design (amongst other things) in the day, and in his free time built his kitchen out of scavenged pallets; a project made more difficult by the fact he didn't own a car or van. These factors came together and Levaillan was inspired to come up with a solution; the Bicylift.

The Bicylift is part bike trailer, part pallet lifter and can also be used to manoeuvre pallets on foot; hence the strapline “Last mile by bike, last metre on foot”. Operation is very simple, but is probably best described in this video:

By March 2016 Levaillan's company, Fleximodal, had started up and manufacturing had begun with a partner company 40km from Rennes. In addition to holding the patent on the concept of lifting a pallet and attaching it to a bike for transport, Fleximodal also designs and makes custom containers for cycle logistics.

The Bicylift has a capacity of 180kgs, so although it cannot take the heaviest pallets, most will fall within it’s capabilities. In fact, organisations that begin to use the Bicylift can take this into account, perhaps adjusting the maximum weight of pallet they will accept. Refinements to the design are ongoing; brakes were recently added to allow greater control of movement on foot.

The advantages are obvious; deliveries of full pallets without repacking would represent a significant efficiency saving for many organisations. Previously, vehicles with tail-lifts (which tend, out of necessity, to be on the larger side) had to deliver pallets as there is always a height difference between the truck-bed and the ground. Another alternative involves having fork-lift trucks at either end of the delivery run.
It follows then that by eliminating these large delivery vehicles, not only is there a saving on running costs, but by keeping them out of town and city centres there are also many environmental and societal advantages to take into account. The Bicylift could also allow organisations to update their offerings to clients and end users, to include door-to-door pallet delivery where this was previously impossible.

Innovations: Palletisation, Trailer

Organisation: Fleximodal
Sector: Manufacturing
Cities: Rennes
Country: France
Basis: Permanent
Contact: Charles Levaillan,

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