European Cycle Logistics Federation meets in Cambridge

This article was published in 2012, in Newsletter 104.

Over 30 cycle delivery companies from across Europe met in Cambridge in July at an event hosted by Outspoken Delivery.
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Cycle delivery companies from across Europe gathered in July to form a European cycle logistics lobby. Cambridge played host to the inaugural meeting of the European Cycle Logistics Federation, attracting over 60 people from 30 cycling groups across Europe. The weekend event marked a new emphasis on the rôle cargo bikes can play in urban centres.

The new federation was formed in the wake of the EU-funded Cycle Logistics project (see Newsletter 97), which gathers key players in the field to promote cycle-based delivery solutions. According to research undertaken by the project, 50% of all light goods, and 25% of all goods, could be moved by cycle. Similar studies in Breda (Netherlands) have found that of the 1,900 trucks that go in every day, less than 10% of the cargo being delivered requires a truck and 40% of deliveries involve just one small box.

Outspoken Delivery, one of the lead partners in the project, hosted the event at Chesterton Bowls Club. Alongside cycle-based logistics companies, there were academics as well as representatives from CTC, the European Cyclists Federation and the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. The newly-formed federation discussed ways to improve urban delivery and will act as a lobby group to promote cycle-based delivery solutions. The idea is that as a structured organisation we will be in a much stronger position to influence and convince stakeholders that freight bikes are a feasible option for delivering cargo in congested inner city areas. More cargo bikes delivering goods means fewer trucks in city centres and safer, more liveable streets for everyone. Participants at the event shared knowledge and experience on how cargo bicycles can reshape urban logistics. Speakers were adamant that cargo bike solutions are effective and can shift large volumes of goods.

‘I started three years ago, knowing nothing’, explained Matthew Linnecar, CEO at the London-based delivery company GNEWT, which uses cargo bicycles for last-mile delivery. ‘Today we’re moving 3,000 consignments per day for just one of our clients in London. We very rarely fail a delivery. We’re on time 99.99% of the time. We’re profitable, we’re successful. It’s going the right way.’

The event also won interest from a wider audience. Cambridge Cycling Campaign’s Co-ordinator was on hand to provide the bicycle-shaped pins and discuss general issues on cycling in Cambridge. As Dr Rachel Aldred (see, who directs the University of East London’s Sustainable Mobilities Research Group, said: ‘It’s fascinating to be here in the early days of a new logistics paradigm. I see a knowledge community taking shape, defining and addressing shared challenges.’

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert said: ‘Our city, which has the highest number of cyclists riding to and from work and school in the UK and a highly successful bike courier company, is a fitting place for such an event. Any changes that we can put in place to allow freight to be carried by bike have to be worthwhile. This idea has the potential to take vehicles off our roads, easing congestion and cutting carbon emissions. As a keen cyclist, it was very exciting to hear more about such great work.’

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From our own perspective, Outspoken’s business continues to grow and we’ve been successful in encouraging national freight operators such as TNT and APC Overnight to use us for Last Mile Logistics. We’re also delivering 18,000 Explorer magazines throughout the city in just two days every month on our new Cycle Maximus trikes – a real challenge, but evidently it works. Explorer uses us because we’re more reliable and less expensive than a van but most importantly because our couriers love their job and offer a really positive image for their end product.

The Cycle Logistics Federation plans to meet on a regular basis to discuss how to get even more goods out of trucks and onto bicycles.

Rob King, Outspoken Delivery