Cargo bikes can provide powerful and cost-effective solutions to environmental, logistical, traffic and social challenges. They are available in a range of forms, with or without electric assistance, and enable easy and efficient options for the transport of cargo or people. Cargo bike use is growing fast in Cambridgeshire and the future is exciting.
What are cargo bikes?
Cargo bikes are cycles that have been specially designed to carry loads. They can have two, three or four wheels and can come with or without electric assistance to make them easier to pedal. There is a wide range of designs. Some cargo bikes have a cargo box or cabin (open or enclosed) in front of the rider. Others carry their loads on an extended ‘tail’ behind the saddle. Children and goods can also be transported in a trailer towed by a standard cycle or cargo cycle.
Cargo bikes carry a wide variety of loads, with some carrying as much as a small van. Many people in Cambridge use cargo bikes on a daily basis to transport their children around the city. Local businesses use cargo bikes to deliver food, wine and beer, flowers and laundry, among other goods. There are also local tradespeople – gardeners, decorators and a carpenter – who operate by bike and a growing number of kiosk bikes selling refreshments on the go, such as coffees and ice lollies.
Why choose to cargo cycle?
- A cargo bike is an excellent choice if you need to get somewhere on time, whether delivering a package to a customer or a child to school. You are much less likely to get stuck in traffic on a cargo bike than in a car or van, as you can travel in cycle lanes past stationary vehicles or avoid the queues by using paths and streets where motor vehicle access is restricted.
- It’s easier to find a spot to unload or leave a cargo cycle, than park a car, so you don’t need to worry about how much time it will take you to find a parking space.
- Cargo cycling is much better for the environment than driving. Cargo bikes (including e-cargo bikes) have a very low carbon footprint and do not cause air or noise pollution while in use.
- It is often cheaper to run a cargo cycle than a car or van. Both the initial outlay and the running costs are usually lower.
- Using a cargo bike for everyday journeys keeps you fit and boosts your mood.
- Cargo cycling is liberating and fun!
Cargo cycling for businesses and families
Families in Cambridge use many different types of cycle to carry children and other cargo including cargo bikes with boxes and cabins, midtail and longtail bicycles, child bike seats, trailers, tandems and adapted cycles. Find out more about the range of child-carrying cycles and where to go for test rides, cycle hire, loan schemes and cycle training.
Read more on our cargo bikes for families page, where you can also watch our video guide to cargo cycling with children.
The use of cargo bikes by businesses delivers action on climate change and benefits for local communities and businesses. Cargo bikes offer an efficient, low-carbon transport solution for people and goods and are often faster and cheaper than motor vehicles in urban areas. Read Camcycle’s draft policy on cargo bikes for businesses.
Read more on our cargo bikes for businesses page where you can watch our video guide to business by bike and find information about trying a cargo cycle for your business.
Our business by bike directory is a growing list of local organisations which use cycles for work journeys and deliveries.
Cambridgeshire cargo bike stories
The go-everywhere, carry-everything family vehicle!
Read how Cambridge’s own Hugh Salt brought the first Dutch-style bikes to the UK and kick-started a cargo bike revolution. See how a cargo bike transformed Clare’s life in Cambridge with three children for the better. Sarah explains how she switched from car dependency to cargo bike joy. Laura recounts how she kept on cycling as her family grew in size and her kids grew up. Harry describes his experiences trialling a cargo bike for the first time.
Sustainable and efficient transport for businesses
The time has come for an e-cargo bike revolution! Iconic British brand Raleigh explains why.
Many Cambridge businesses already benefit by operating by bike. Tradesperson Sam Groves explains how he hasn’t looked back since he switched his business to bike seven years ago. Read about the experiences of Calverley’s Brewery, local painter and decorator Kevin Sampson, Oxwash, and Stir Bakery.
Zedify carries out a large number of zero emission deliveries by cargo bike in Cambridge and across the UK. Online retail platform Click It Local delivers goods from independent retailers to customers in Cambridge by bike.
Resources and further reading
- Transporting children on the family bike (Cyclelogistics, accessed Feb 2022)
- The complete family cargo bike buying guide: Part 1 (London Green Cycles, 2018)
- The complete family cargo bike buying guide: Part 2 (London Green Cycles, 2018)
- A guide to cargobikes (Cycling UK, 2016)
- Cargo bikes for families: everything you need to know (Sustrans, 2018)
- Family cycling UK Facebook group
- Motherload (an award-winning documentary that uses the cargo bike as the vehicle for exploring parenthood; )
- 20 good reasons to ride a cargo bike (Cyclelogistics, accessed Feb 2022)
- Cargo bike heroes videos (Cyclelogistics, accessed Feb 2022)
- Ecargo bikes: Choosing ecargo bikes for your organisation (Energy Saving Trust, accessed Feb 2022)
- Why Cargo bikes? An empirical analysis of the Pedal Me fleet (Pedal Me, accessed Feb 2022)
- Businesses warm to electric cargo bikes as 90% cost savings realised (Cycling Industry News, 2021)
- “Is that difficult?”Cycling, training, and riding cargo bikes for a living (Pedal Me, accessed Feb 2022)
- The plumber challenging ‘white van man’ stereotypes (BBC, 2021)
- Cargo bikes deliver faster and cleaner than vans, study finds (The Guardian, 2021)
- Cycling brands gear up for rapid growth in UK cargo bike market (The Guardian, 2021)
Help Camcycle work for more, better and safer cargo cycling in Cambridgeshire
Become a member of Camcycle to help us work for the active travel issues you care about.
Our vision is for a thriving and sustainable region of healthy, happy people where everyone who would like to start or continue to cycle can do so. We campaign for inclusive cycling infrastructure suitable for all types of rider and cycle, including cargo bikes and other large and adapted cycles.