New cargo bike research Groningen supports nationwide findings

December 2019

Urban deliveries are historically associated with obstructing lorries, causing nuisance for residents, visitors and business owners alike. Exhaust fumes and noise always had a negative effect on the environment. With the rising trend of ordering goods and services online, it is expected that these inconveniences will only increase. The negative effects of the array of delivery vans doing their duties can even be felt on housing estates now, but it especially results into problems for city centres.

At the same time, new technology provides alternatives for the ‘good old’ delivery lorry. In the Netherlands, usage of LEVVs (Dutch abbreviation for Light Electronic Freigh Vehicles) is on the rise, with the electric cargo bike as the most popular alternative. Loendersloot has conducted various researches into the usage of electric cargo bikes and the effects on its surroundings.

Loendersloot’s latest research, in conjunction with Groningen City Council, shows that most problems with cargo bikes occur due to issues with rules en regulations. Because the electric cargo bike is a relatively new concept, it doesn’t have a clear place within different types of mobility. At the moment, the cargo bike is being categorised as a bicycle while the measurements, weight and speed can differ a lot per type of cargo bike and is very different in comparison to regular bicycles.

Legal status and infrastructure

This results in a lot of uncertainty regarding the interaction with other road users, both on day-to-day and legal levels. Also, as electric cargo bikes are being categorised as bicycles, they are often not allowed in pedestrian areas, not even if this is for the loading and unloading of goods. Issues regarding infrastructure mostly occur because of narrow cycling paths, steep curbs and obstacles within the infrastructure that block the passage from cargo bikes.

The conclusions of this latest research, which was conducted entirely in Groningen City, supports the conclusions of a Netherlands-wide research earlier this year. As commissioned by Connekt and delivered by Loendersloot and its partners, this research also applied to other forms of Light Electric Cargo Vehicles. The unclear legal status of the cargo bike and infrastructure shortcomings were also highlighted as issues in this research. Loendersloot is now endevouring to find solutions for these issues, to be incorporated in projects in 2020.