Cargo bike delivery has the potential to save between 300 and 450 lives per year in London through the reduction in dangerous NOx and PM2.5 emissions from diesel trucks and vans.
Polluted air has reached a crisis point in London and other major European cities where air quality now periodically dips below the legally required minimums.
One of the urgent measures being introduced into London is the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), where standard vehicles will pay large charges to enter.
As part of the thrust a business group has launched Bikes for Business, an initiative to switch 15 per cent of all deliveries in central London to cargo bike.
As part of the scheme 60 businesses in London Bridge will be subsidised to make the change.
Chief Executive of Team London Bridge, Nadia Broccardo, said: “As the Business Improvement District for London Bridge, Team London Bridge is committed to getting business to switch to cargo bikes.
“This is a real opportunity to rethink how best to move freight over short distances in the capital. From groceries to medical supplies, cargo bikes can help businesses cut costs and journey times, as well as pollution that is blighting life in London.”
One example is Guy’s Hospital which is looking at using cargo bikes for pathology lab transfers, a task that typically deploys many polluting motor vehicles.
In London 9,400 premature deaths are estimated to come from long-term exposure to PM2.5 and NOx, so if the initiative is successfully rolled out across the city, it is estimated cargo bike deliveries could save between 300-450 lives per year.
The cost to the London economy of congestion caused by incidents resulting from driver behaviours is estimated to be £137 million in 2016, of which over half was estimated to be from freight vehicles. The London economy could save in the region of £10 million per year if all areas followed the lead of London Bridge.
Meanwhile the UK Department of Transport has set up a new $3.65M fund to help companies invest in electric cargo bikes.
The ‘eCargo Bike Grant Fundʼ is live and available to limited companies, sole traders, partnerships, charities and not-for-profit organisations operating across England.
The funding available is conditional on recipients signing up to a robust code of practice developed in association with the UK Cycle Logistics Federation and the Bicycle Association that includes cycle safety best practices.
“Funding to support the adoption of e-cargo bikes by businesses in England and enable low-carbon last-mile delivery across the country is a positive step in improving local air quality, tackling road traffic congestion, and reducing transport operating costs,” said Matthew Eastwood, Head of Transport at Energy Saving Trust.
Applicants can benefit from grant funding for up to 20 per cent of the cost of a new e-cargo bike up to the value of £1,000 per bike.