Deliveries by cargo bike

By Alison Hill

During the pandemic we all witnessed the extraordinary and eery sight of the streets of Oxford empty of motor traffic, and sadly empty of people walking and cycling. Think back to what the congested polluted streets were like before the pandemic. We don’t wish for either scenario but instead want to look for a future where our streets are free of motor traffic and there is space for walking and cycling, with more attractive spaces and clean air.

Last week Cyclox held a public meeting on cargo bikes and we were able to get a glimpse of that future. You may have seen two cargo bike companies plying the city streets both in blue livery. These are Oxwash and Pedal and Post. The chief executives of both those companies presented a vision of that future.

OxWash is a wonderful sustainable space age laundry service that is aiming to become completely renewably powered and to minimise water usage and chemicals. Their customers include AirBnB and other hospitality clients, Oxford colleges, and private households. They use cargo bikes for all
their deliveries. These carry a huge 1500 litres of cargo, representing 350 to 450kg of laundry. They have sophisticated logistics software to allow them to plan journeys efficiently. This also provides data on pinch points and other hot spots that can help inform road improvements.

Pedal & Post is a bike logistics organisation handling a diversity of goods also aiming for a goal of zero emissions. Before the pandemic they were doing deliveries to shops and offices, online parcel deliveries, veg box deliveries and specimen deliveries for the NHS, but everything changed, as it did for all of us, when Covid-19 hit us. Parcel deliveries to students in colleges halted but increased to residents of the city. They started delivering online orders from lots of local companies, like Roots of Oxford, Jericho Cheese Company, SESI and many others. They do deliveries for the NHS of Covid related products, taking them to the station to get them onto high speed trains to London.

These pioneering companies are giving us that glimpse of the future where a sizable proportion of deliveries can be done by bike, but our streets need to be fit for this future. Both companies are finding the road infrastructure and congestion challenging. It is difficult to navigate some routes, such as the Hythe Bridge Street / George Street junction, so they are delighted that Queen Street is now open for cargo bikes. Along with many of us they support Connecting Oxford and better cycling infrastructure.

To ensure that motor traffic doesn’t build up to the levels seen before the pandemic they want to see implementation of the temporary bus gates and temporary pop up cycle lanes being proposed. Our councils need to know that there is a lot of backing for these emergency measures so write to
your local councillor to give your support and counter the vocal opposition to these plans and mention these will be essential for our local cargo bike businesses.

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