Funding secured to grow e-cargo bike fleet

Oxfordshire County Council has secured £71,000 of funding to expand the number of electric cargo (e-cargo) bikes used to deliver goods in an ultra-low emission way across Oxford.

 The county council was one of 14 local authorities to secure investment from the government's e-cargo bike fund and will use the money to finance the ECObike (Electric Cargo Oxford) project, managed by local cargo bike courier service Pedal & Post.

 The ECObike project aims to increase the number of e-cargo bikes making deliveries in Oxford and encourage further uptake of the bikes among local businesses. The project will be delivered in two stages:

  1. The first will see three electric tricycles incorporated into Pedal & Post’s delivery fleet to increase deliveries in Oxford for a vegetable box provider from 100 boxes per week up to between 600 and 800.
  2. The second will see Pedal & Post establish a leasing scheme for ten e-cargo bikes, aimed at businesses and residents looking to adapt to Oxford’s zero emission zone (ZEZ). This will include training, maintenance and support.

Councillor Tim Bearder, Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “This money is an amazing opportunity to provide an alternative to businesses currently reliant on car and van travel. By using cargo bikes we can secure a future that is more positive, and help to deliver on the council’s commitment to reduce congestion in Oxford city, improve air quality and help businesses to reduce their carbon footprint by making their travel habits more sustainable. It will also mean they can travel within the pilot zero emission zone, which started on 28 February, without charge.

There are so many benefits and I hope our ECObike project will inspire other Oxford businesses to consider electric cargo bikes for their last mile deliveries.”

For the last two months, one of the electric tricycles has been used to support Oxford Mutual Aid, a community group that formed in response to the pandemic, to make over 1,000 grocery deliveries to vulnerable households. This helped to address gaps in charity staffing and a sharp rise in demand.

When stage one of the ECObike project begins, the operation of the three electric tricycles will be used to test out delivering larger weight and volume packages for the last step of the journey (from warehouse to a truck to the customer) in Oxford.

Chris Benton, Founder of Pedal & Post, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to engage with local businesses, schools and residents who wish to try out an electric cargo bike but haven't used one before and may not be able to afford the upfront cost. We will be helping to operate the leasing scheme and supporting people with maintenance, insurance, and training for newer less confident riders. It’s an exciting project that we can learn a lot from and has real potential to grow. The more cargo bikes in our city the better!"

The ZEZ pilot was developed in partnership with Oxford City Council. The ZEZ covers a small area of the city and will operate from 7am to 7pm all year around. All petrol and diesel vehicles, including hybrids, will incur a daily charge unless eligible for a discount or exemption. However, zero emission vehicles, such as electric cars, can enter the pilot area free of charge.